Britney Spears Brings Smiles to Girls of Katrina

The students of St. Catherine of Siena School in Metairie, La., have been through a lot together -- especially after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.

Lindsay Hernandez, 14, lived with 21 relatives and friends after her home was destroyed. See-Sha James Hayes, 17, lost her dog and her home, and is still living apart from her parents. Maycie Melerine, 13, misses her lost pictures after everything she owned was lost to the floodwaters. Auntrell Prosper, 17, still has Beyonce posters on her bedroom walls in her devastated home, but she and her family live in a trailer.

The girls sat down for breakfast with City Councilman Jay Batt to discuss the effects of Katrina, but were in for a surprise when they were joined by Louisiana native, pop star and new mom Britney Spears. She stunned the girls when she told them she was taking them shopping "to pick out some really good outfits."

The surprises didn't stop there. Their next stop was Emeril Lagasse's signature restaurant. There, the girls enjoyed a traditional Cajun meal of red beans and rice, fried chicken, and macaroni and cheese.

In between bites and girl talk, the group discussed the serious ramifications of the storm.

"We came back to Baton Rouge and there was no room. We had to go to a shelter," Auntrell said.

The girls were in for one last surprise, fleur-de-lis pins -- the symbol of New Orleans -- on blue ribbons. The pins represent rebirth, a reminder of a few happy hours amid the specter of Hurricane Katrina.

"It was awesome. I will never forget it," Lindsay said.

The Gatorettes

Spears also surprised the school's dance troupe, the Gatorettes.

After the storm, the dance team was spread all over the country. Now the Gatorettes are back together and ready to practice.

"Coming to dance, it's a relaxing time to have fun instead of worrying about other things from the hurricane," said Emily Lococo, 12.

The troupe's teacher, Courtney Gervais, said dancing was a way for them to forget their troubles.

"Some of the girls on the team don't have a home to go home to," she said. "So, this is their escape."

"I think when we come back to dancing it's getting away from everything," said Rachel Prange, 13. "You can just come here instead of going home and dealing with all the confusion."

Spears brought them gift bags with CDs, DVDs and shoes sent by Capezio.

"They dance so great. They're awesome," Spears said, after watching the girls rehearse.

The girls could hardly believe they were performing for one of the most famous pop stars in the business. One declared that meeting the singer was the "bestest" part of her whole life.

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