Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS - St. Michael Special School in the Irish Channel helps developmentally disabled children reach their full potential.

A recent visit showed us the kindergarten students - all busy, all smiles.

'They give me happiness and joy and love. They work extremely hard and give it their all,' said teacher Melissa Richard.

Principal Susan Munster has been at St. Michael's just a few months, having been appointed principal last year after the retirement of longtime principal Jane Silva.

'The students captured my heart, and it is truly a very blessed, very nurturing environment,' Munster said.

There are 200 students as young as age six, and adult clients up to age 54 working in the school's Joy Center.

'We never turn away a child who is in need of our services for inability to pay, but that gap is made up through various fund raising events,' Munster said.

The Chefs' Charity For Children is a major fundraiser for St. Michael's.

On Wednesday, Feb. 20 at the Hilton Riverside Hotel, 11 star chefs give the audience a cookbook and demonstrations that are as entertaining and educational.

This year's chefs include Andrea Apuzzo, Emeril Lagasse, John Besh, John Folse, the Wongs of Trey Yuen, Lazone Randolph, David Woodward, Greg Reggio, Gunter Preuss, Leah Chase and Goffredo Fraccaro.

The event was co-founded by former Channel 4 news director/assistant general manager and editorialist Phil Johnson and legendary chef Warren Leruth. It continues now, more than 35 years later.

'It is a great cooking lesson and better than that you get to taste everything that they actually demonstrate, and have a little wine chaser with it,' said Ann Higgins of St. Michael's.

But they still need to sell 300 tickets, and those are critically needed funds.

'That's a lot of tickets, and that's a lot of revenue to help our children,' Higgins said.

Tickets to the Chefs' Charity next Wednesday, Feb. 20 are $65 each and include lunch, the cooking demonstrations and a cookbook of the recipes. The event begins at 10 a.m. Call 504-524-7285 to order tickets.

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