Former Penn student Elliott Witney has taught with the KIPP Academy, a special charter school for urban children, for several years. Witney was among the founding members of the Writers House "hub" or Planning Committee in 1995-96. Each year Witney and his colleagues visit Penn and are taught by several members of the faculty, and there is an annual visit to the Writers House. Members of the Writers House community are welcome to join this symposium.
For more information about the KIPP Academy, please see http://www.kipp.org
Folklorist Nick Spitzer is professor of communication and American studies at Tulane University where he began as a Mellon Humanities Fellow in 2004. Nick is also the producer and host of the radio program Louisiana Folklife: A Guide to the State (1985), and The Mississippi Delta Ethnographic Overview (1979) for the National Park Service. He helped create the Folklife Pavilion at the 1984 World's Fair, where he curated The Creole State: An Exhibition of Louisiana Folklife (1984-2004). He served as senior folklife specialist at the Smithsonian (1985-1990) and artistic director for the Folk Masters concert/broadcasts from Carnegie Hall and Wolf Trap (1990-1997) and the Independence Day concerts broadcast from the National Mall (1992-2001).
Nick has been a commentator/producer for NPR's All Things Considered and Fresh Air, PBS's Great Performances, CBS' Sunday Morning, and ABC's Nightline, and Evening News with Peter Jennings. Spitzer directed the film Zydeco: Creole Music and Culture in Rural Louisiana (1986), and has produced or annotated two dozen documentary recordings. In 2002 Nick co-curated 'Raised to the Trade': Creole Building Arts of New Orleans at New Orleans Museum of Art. He is co-editor of the book Public Folklore (1992, 2007) and co-author of Blues for New Orleans: Mardi Gras and America's Creole Soul (2006, Penn Press). A former resident scholar at the School of American Research in Santa Fe and a Fellow of the American Folklore Society, Spitzer received the Benjamin Botkin Award in Public Folklore, an ASCAP-Deems Taylor Excellence in Broadcasting Award for American Routes, and was named Louisiana Humanist of the Year in 2006 for cultural recovery efforts after the catastrophe. His interests include Gulf Coast ethnography, cultural creolization, American vernacular music/culture, and public cultural policy. Nick was a 2007 Guggenheim Fellow working on traditional creativity in Louisiana Creole communities.
Each year, we celebrate graduating seniors who have been closely affiliated with the Writers House community. Attending our "capstone" program are the families and friends of the seniors -- a joyous occasion for the community, truly.
Individual audio files: Al Filreis, introduction; Brooke Palmieri, introduced by David Traister; Gabe Oppenheim, introduced by Paul Hendrickson; Jen Green, introduced by Al Filreis; Zachary Smith Ferris, introduced by Erin Gautsche; Ellie Kane, introduced by Al Filreis; Aichlee Bushnell, introduced by Tracie Morris; Eric Karlan, introduced by Al Filreis; Al Filreis, Final toast.