by Lauren Pope, Staff Writer
The Better Together Homeschooling Co-Op meets on the first Friday of each month at the Zachary Branch Library. There’s a theme for every month, and October’s theme was art, music, and dance with a Hispanic Heritage tilt.
The day started with student presentations, including one by Julio Wheeless and his mom, Echo. Echo and Julio brought many items in from home, including a working accordion given to Julio by his grandparents in Mexico. The accordion plus a pair of maracas were the perfect start to a musical day.
Next, the students broke up into three groups. Outside in the courtyard, students learned a new dance. Inside, Palacios’ House of Arts’ Gloria Ruiz de Palacios taught students an Encanto inspired butterfly project while her son, Raudol Palacios entertained another group with his electric cello.
Raudol soon gained a reputation amongst students as “the guy who can play *anything*” and as the day went on, the requests became more and more unhinged. “Can you play the opening theme to Home Alone?” one hopeful student asked. Raudol said he hadn’t watched Home Alone since he was a child, but he did an impressive improvisation on the Fox Films Opening song. He also entertained the room with music from Encanto, several fan favorite pop hits, music from Star Wars, and classic Hispanic tunes from all over Central and South America, including a song from his native Cuba called Guantanamo.
I spoke with Raudol afterwards and learned a bit more about him and Palacios’ House of Arts. The Palacios family is from Cuba, but moved to Venezuela when he was 6, eventually settling in Baton Rouge. After high school, Raudol studied in Europe for two years, before getting a coveted spot and scholarship at LSU’s famed Cello program. There, he studied Music Performance, and what a performer he is! He uses a looper to layer complex melodies and beats which gives him the sound of many cellos even when he’s playing alone.
Naturally, Raudol teaches cello at Palacio’s House of Arts. His philosophy there is to find the best single instrument specialists that he can find. They offer classes in strings, piano, and voice. In addition to their classes in music education, Gloria teaches art classes from toddler to adult in both English and Spanish.
Palacios’ House of Arts has put the spotlight on the needs of the next generation of artists in the community. The goal of the program is to encourage a passion for the arts by having exceptional teachers to provide mentorship, training and support to both distinguished and emerging artists. Interested students should contact email@example.com
If you’re a homeschooling family that is looking for a good place to make friends and learn about different cultures, the Better Together Homeschooling Co-op is a perfect hub for cultural enrichment and community bonding. Each session is carefully curated, ensuring that the children not only learn but also form lasting memories. With the flexibility that homeschooling offers, events such as these provide invaluable opportunities for hands-on experiences and interaction with local experts.
It wasn’t just about the notes Raudol played on his electric cello or the vibrant butterflies crafted under Gloria’s guidance. It was about the stories behind the music, the shared experiences of dancing together, and the joy of creating something beautiful with one’s hands. It’s a holistic approach to education, where children get a blend of academic knowledge, cultural insight, and the sense of belonging that comes from being a part of a supportive community.