Alabama Celebrates Nat'l School Choice Week, Les Paul Grant for Fairhope

Jan 26, 2016

Supporters and state officials are rallying at the state capitol today for National School Choice Week.

Alabama is celebrating the variety of educational opportunities for children throughout the state, allowing them to decide what type of school they want to attend.

Sonya DiCarlo is the Director of Communications for the Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund. She says there are scholarship opportunities for families to pick the school of their choice.

“We give out the scholarships on a first come, first serve basis. We gave out 2800 scholarships the first year. The second year, it was closer to 2200 scholarships. For those families who receive scholarships, it pays their tuition, their mandatory fees for them to leave a school that they are desperate to move from and get to a school of their choice.”

More than 4000 people are anticipated to be at the capitol today for the event headlined by Governor Robert Bentley.

Middle school music students in Fairhope will soon learn all about the electric guitar, thanks to the man that invented it.

The Les Paul Foundation recently awarded a grant that will fund a 12-week guitar course at Fairhope Middle School. In addition to playing his signature solid-body electric guitar, students will learn all about the life of Les Paul and some of his other musical innovations.

Cori Yonge is the executive director of the Fairhope Educational Enrichment Foundation. She says the students will be surprised to learn just how much Les Paul accomplished.

“Interestingly enough, when I asked the guitar teacher about it, she said ‘Kids just think that Les Paul is a guitar. They don’t understand that there’s a man behind it, and a man that really… He took a piece of wood, and he was able to turn that into an instrument that did change the way we see music today.’”

More than 40 Fairhope Middle School students are enrolled in the Les Paul course this semester. The class will culminate in a concert and showcase for students and faculty.

A federal judge will hear arguments later today in a lawsuit challenging Alabama's plans to use oil spill settlement money to build a beachfront hotel at Gulf State Park.

The Gulf Restoration Network filed a lawsuit against the state and federal trustees who approved the project.

The environmental group argues a hotel isn't a proper use of funds meant to restore the coast after the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Alabama contends the project will help people return to the beach after tourism and recreation dropped significantly during and after the 2010 spill.

U.S. District Judge Charles Butler will hear arguments today in Mobile on motions for summary judgment requested by both plaintiffs and defendants.

Alabama hopes to have the 350-room hotel and conference center open for business by the summer of 2018.