Young Audiences Charter School in Louisiana Celebrates First Graduating Class at Arts-Filled Commencement Ceremony

Photo of YACS graduates
June 01, 2023 |

On May 19, 2023, Young Audiences Charter School (YACS) graduated its first class of high-school seniors. Beaming students gathered inside Metairie’s Jefferson Performing Arts Center to receive their diplomas and celebrate the landmark achievement with over one-thousand friends and loved ones.  

Founded by Young Audiences of Louisiana (YALA), with support from National Young Audiences Arts for Learning (YA), YACS is the only fully arts-integrated public charter school serving Louisiana’s Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. It offers tracks in Visual Arts, Dance, Digital Media, Theatre, and Music, with creative career development and the motto “Academic Excellence with an Artistic Edge.” As a Type 1 Charter authorized by the Jefferson Parish Public School System (JPPSS), YACS is open to any student in Jefferson Parish.    

Many of the graduating seniors have been part of the YACS family since they were kindergarteners. When YACS first opened in 2013, it offered enrollment to students in grades K-3; since then, it has expanded by adding one new grade annually, until proudly welcoming its inaugural class of 12th-graders during the most recent academic year (2022-2023).  

Speakers at the YACS commencement included Representative Troy Carter (D-LA 2nd District) and local artist and activist Brandan “BMike” Odums. The mayor of Gretna (where the YACS campus is located), Belinda Constant, city councilman Rudy Smith, and YA National Executive Director David A. Dik were all present at graduation. During the ceremony, YACS CEO Rickie Nutik (formerly Executive Director at YALA) was honored for her efforts in championing the school's founding a decade ago. 

Also honored was YACS senior valedictorian Jamari Ross, who earned over $500,000 in scholarships and a full ride to New Orleans’ prestigious Tulane University, where she will be joined by two others from her graduating class. Following the formal ceremony, the Zulu Tramps, members of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, played the graduates out of the building with a second-line parade. 

A huge congratulations to all 77 YACS graduating seniors! And congrats to YACS for having a near 100% graduation rate! 

About Young Audiences Charter School (YACS)
The mission of YACS is to educate the whole child through arts integration and equip creative learners to flourish as leaders in life and learning. To accomplish its mission, YACS faculty and staff deliver a completely arts-integrated curriculum supported by project-based teaching and learning, authentic assessments, individualized instruction, and regular teacher and student collaboration opportunities.  

To help support arts education and creative career development at YACS, please contact Jen Gick, Young Audiences of Louisiana’s Director of Development, at

YACS graduating class
The Zulu Tramps performing at YACS graduation