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BR Parents - Thrive: Suiting Up Students to Honor Her Husband’s Legacy

First published on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website and in the July 2021 issue. Thriving after losing a spouse can almost feel impossible in the immediate aftermath. However, two years after her husband’s death caught their family by surprise, Denise J. Brown and her adult children have come together and launched a nonprofit organization to honor his memory. Eugene M. Brown Sr. was a master tailor who, with Denise, founded Brown & Brown Custom Clothiers in 1973, a business now run by their sons. Denise is a former educator and was a director of a Mentoring for Success program at Capitol High School. Launched in December 2020, Suiting 101 beautifully blends the talents and interests of Denise and her late husband. The nonprofit’s mission is to mentor and train at-risk, underprivileged students with life skills, focusing on the importance of appearance and presentation. “(Eugene) had a love for people, and he loved dressing his clients for success,” Denise says. “He loved ou

BR Parents: One Amazing Kid - Ivory Gipson

First published on Baton Rouge Parents Magazine's website and in the July 2021 issue. In high school, Ivory Gipson maintained a near-perfect GPA and was a three-sport varsity athlete, band member, fellow in the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition (BRYC), vice president of the Goal Society, and held down a part-time job. “I did every sport and every club that was there in my time at Northeast,” he says. The recent graduate was named one of six 2021 Louisiana Young Heroes by Louisiana Public Broadcasting. The program celebrates achievements of inspiring students who make their communities better places. Ivory found out he was named a Young Hero while on a college visit with Lucas Spielfogel, Ivory’s mentor in BRYC and the organization’s executive director, who nominated him. Ivory, 18, credits his mom, Latasha Gipson, for his success. “My mom is my superhero without a cape,” he says. “She’ll take her last $20 out of her wallet so I can do something.” Latasha also taught Iv

BR Parents: July 2021

As Education and Community sections editor, I wrote pages 14-24 and page 26 of the July 2021 issue of Baton Rouge Parents magazine . (I did not write the briefs about Summer Olympics on page 14 or about author Julie Sternberg on page 17.)

BR Parents Blog: Embracing the Cheugy - Yeah, I’m Basic!

First published on the Baton Rouge Parents magazine website. Gen Z is at it again–creating a new word to make fun of older people and the things we enjoy. First it was basic, but now it’s cheugy, which arguably seems meaner since it’s a made-up word with such hard consonant sounds? Also “basic” was popularized on the TV shows Parks & Rec and The Good Place , basic entertainment in themselves that somehow softens the blow. We’ll see how the “cheugy” term unfolds, but it’s definitely made the rounds in my corners of the internet. It was even in The New York Times : "cheugy can be used, broadly, to describe someone who is out of date or trying too hard." That last part is a little ouchy, as I am loath to want to seem to be trying too hard or at all…I know that trying is forever uncool! But honestly, I’ve always been out of date? I turned 40 last year, which makes me either a very young Gen X (my preference) or an elder millennial. I grew up in the middle of no

BR Parents: June 2021

As Education and Community sections editor, I wrote pages pages 14-21  and page 26 of the June 2021 issue of Baton Rouge Parents magazine. See the web layout on the magazine's website.

BR Parents - One Amazing Kid: Caroline Simpson

Originally published on the Baton Rouge Parents magazine website. Last summer during the height of stay-at-home orders, Caroline Simpson began her unique internship with the Baton Rouge Coroner’s Office, working for Dr. Beau Clark. A recent graduate of St. Michael the Archangel High School, Caroline’s focus on forensics began with reading. “In sixth grade, I read a book series that really got me interested in murder mysteries and crime,” I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. “She’s really interested in stuff that not many people are,” says Natalie Simpson, Caroline’s mom. In ninth grade, Caroline was able to view her first autopsy when her dad, Bill Simpson, won a “Spend a Day with the Coroner” at an auction. “I was so worried–am I gonna throw up and pass out on the ground?” Caroline remembers. “But luckily, I went in and  I was so fascinated. I could do this every day.” Now 18, Caroline was a leader in her school’s youth ministry and a soccer team captain her senior year.

BR Parents - Thrive: Going Viral: Teen Connects Through Poetry and TikTok Videos

Originally posted on the Baton Rouge Parents magazine website. Although he didn’t speak until he was five, Cohen Swain is finding his voice. The 15-year-old is on the autism spectrum and has written a poem, Hold On, I’m Trying , that has gone viral.  Originally an assignment for a resilience project in Catherine Lucas’s freshman English class last fall, Cohen’s poem has been copyrighted. A video of Cohen reading it was published by Ascension Parish Schools as part of Disabilities Awareness Month in March and has been shared more than 100 times from its Facebook page and viewed more than 50 times on its YouTube channel. The poem shares Cohen’s memories and struggles, each stanza ending with “Hold on, I’m trying,” something he says often.  “When I read it, I see everything separate; I can separate all of those memories,” says Krystal Swain, Cohen’s mom. “It was emotional for us and everyone that knows Cohen that’s read it.” A particularly poignant memory comes when Cohen