Isle De Jean Charles

March 6th, 2017

Just a few minutes ago I hit the submit button for our charter. It’s been a matter of herding cats: feral, skittish, pregnant, and purring– but finally all the documents are in one place, and it’s up to the charter gods to determine if we can take our dream and make it a reality.

The road to Isle de Jean Charles was just built in 1953. Until then, a boat was the only guaranteed way to reach the island. Check out the settlement of homes on the long, thin strip of land at the end of the road, and imagine what happens to this place when the water rises and land disappears. Photo credit:

The metaphorical road is long. It’s easy to get lost in the day to day of what we’re trying to do– writing a charter, collecting fingerprints of board members, touring buildings and trying to understand maps and models of our predicted future. Opening a school isn’t just getting the keys to an outfitted building and then magically kids show up. It’s a lot of detailed work and hustling, but it’s clear why it’s critical to do this work. Not just for the kids– but for the people and the land and the culture that makes Louisiana so incredible.

Isle de Jean Charles is an island way out south in Terrebonne Parish that is reeling from the effects of sea level rise and climate change. Isle de Jean Charles is in the news a ton, including this CNN story, and it’s certainly worth the time to roam around their Isle de Jean Charles website, if not to make a drive down the road to see it for yourself.

An aerial view of Isle de Jean Charles. Photo credit: William Widmer/Redux for CNN

Because I’m fascinated with the dialect, I love the videos from Isle de Jean Charles. Check out this CNN Climate Change video of married couple Wenceslaus and Denicia Billiot who have lived on Isle de Jean Charles for more years than most of us have been alive.

Isle de Jean Charles is just one reason we’re opening New Harmony High. There are countless more. My hope is to use this time before opening to paint a clear picture about what’s going on in south Louisiana, from science and data to art to people and ultimately to the kids who are going to create new harmonies in their efforts to help Louisiana survive and thrive today and well into the future. Stay tuned. Stay informed. Stay involved.

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