In case you haven’t heard, the fantastic after-school tutoring and youth writing workshop organization extraordinaire Big Class has moved its operations into the first floor of the Press Street HQ (3718 St. Claude Ave.). Inspired by the 826 writing centers run across the country by folks involved with McSweeney’s, Big Class offers a fun and welcoming environment for schoolchildren ages 6 – 18 to get help with their homework and—more importantly—take part in workshops and activities that spur the imagination and encourage young writers to hone their talents. Big Class also publishes books of some of its participants’ writing—thus far they’ve published themed editions about animals, robots, superheroes, sports, and New Orleans, and there’s one on the way that contains original fairy tales—giving an added incentive to young writers who want to see their work in print (accompanied by art created by some of the most talented folks in town).
In order to connect with community members who want to become involved in its programs, Big Class is hosting two open houses in the coming week at the Press Street HQ: from 12 – 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24; and from [5:30] – 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28. Families with children who want to take part in tutoring or writing activities, people who want to volunteer as tutors or potentially teach a workshop, and folks who just want to learn more about Big Class and see what they’ve got going on (and eat free hot dogs!) are all invited. Coincidentally, the Big Class open house on Feb. 28 will take place at the same time as the Happy Hour Salon for the launch of Press Street’s newest publication, We’re Pregnant, upstairs in the Antenna Gallery, so attendees of that event will get to witness an entire panoply of Press Street activities.
The open houses will immerse attendees in the world of Big Class as it’s being created. The Big Class team is in the process of decking out the first floor of the Press Street HQ according to the writing center’s conceit—an old (fictional) New Orleans newspaper, the Riverside Port-Reveler, which launched in the 1880s and mysteriously closed in the 1980s, but is back at it again seeking to save the New Orleans media landscape with the help of its intrepid workshop participants. Though the newsroom is not fully operational, the open house will guide those in attendance through the various projects soon to launch—weekly workshops for students ages 7 – 14 on food-centric personal essays, jazz-inspired poetry, and outlandish newspaper writing; after-school tutoring; and a variety of inventive Sunday workshops (comics, photography … you name it!).
Schoolchildren interested in the workshops and those interested in volunteering for Big Class will have the opportunity to obtain the requisite information and even sign up to participate. And did I mention there will be free hot dogs?