Dutchtown teacher wins $1,000 grant for 'Rock n' Roll Fantasy Camp'

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

One of Dutchtown's own was recognized recently for his innovative teaching.

Dutchtown High School social studies teacher Julian Surla recently won a $1000 education grant from the Ascension Fund, which provides funds to qualified teachers for various learning projects throughout Ascension Parish. The Ascension Fund is a not-for-profit foundation that funds teacher grants through generous donations from businesses and organizations.

Surla's winning project is called "Rock n' Roll Fantasy Camp." Students will be put into groups and will create a fictitious band. They will be required to create a name, logo design, CD artwork, and create a music video which will be put into the form of a DVD. All of the requirements will use equipment and supplies funded by the Ascension Fund grant.

The purpose of the project is part of a new course designed by Mr. Surla called "The History of Rock n' Roll." The course provides an overview of the dynamic history of rock and roll by decades, from the roots to its many branches. It explores how music has intersected with culture and changed the political landscape. Through a variety of studies, students will be actively engaged in exploring the history of rock and roll, while meeting and possibly exceeding Louisiana Academic Content Standards for learning in subject areas such as music, language arts, social studies, and technology through live demonstrations, musical examples, video excerpts, and multimedia presentations.

Also, students will get first-hand experience with how the rock n' roll music industry functions as a business and how bands are created and sustained. This course is designed to not only teach them the historical aspect of being a professional musician, but to also help them understand the commitment and sacrifices that are needed.

"As a professional musician myself for over 20 years, I've learned the hard way that knowledge is power in the music business," Surla said in a released statement. "There are many students on campus with aspirations of becoming a professional musician and/or writer who I feel can benefit from this course."