Congratulations to these Episcopal All Metro athletes! 2020 Cross Country First Team: Callie Hardy and Scarlett Spender. Cross Country First Team Honorable Mention: Ivy Jiang, Mia Pulliam and Alex Hollier.
Congratulations to these Episcopal All Metro athletes! 2020 All Metro Swim Team: Eugene Jiang and Ben Naquin.
Congratulations to Episcopal’s 8-2A All District Football Team Honorees! Defensive MVP – Austin Sybrandt. Offensive MVP – Ryan Armwood. 1st Team: DL - Austin Sybrandt, LB – Oliver Jack, DB – Ethan Hook, P – Parker Sanchez, K – Parker Sanchez, OL – Bennett Gibson, OL – Adam Azmeh, WR – Peyton Pontiff, QB – Dylan Mehrotra and RB – Ryan Armwood. 2nd Team: OL – Val Rangelov, WR – Thomas D’Armond, RB – Oliver Jack, DL – Drew Sharp, LB – Allen Stewart and DB – David Cresson. Honorable Mention: Dylan Kong, Carson Duval, Ethan Carmouche, Tristan Rigby and Thomas Abadie.
District 8-2A Coach of the Year – Travis Bourgeois.
In this season of giving, I would like to thank this community for all you have given me. Despite all of the obstacles, this community has been a true blessing to my family and me. It was clear from the start that I was joining a group who had weathered a few storms together, and while the pandemic has challenged us all, it has forced us to have a little more patience, give a little more grace, and use a little more creativity than we might have otherwise.
Children are resilient, and I am extremely proud of how they have adapted to our current circumstances. They are creative problem-solvers, and this semester, they have found unique ways to shine. One such moment was the Middle School play, We’re All in this Together. To see our young actors on stage authentically portraying school in a pandemic and thanking the teachers for their heroic work was heartwarming. Lessons and Carols looks and feels different, but the virtual version is a special holiday treat. Additionally, many of our athletic programs have completed successful seasons, despite the challenges. Every day our students bring joy to campus and give us much to celebrate.
Episcopal is blessed with an incredible faculty and staff. I knew that coming in, but I’ve had the opportunity to witness their courageous, creative, and compassionate work. If you have not seen the Lower School version of The Knights Before Christmas, it is a must-see. Finding new ways to teach has been a daily challenge, but they have gone above and beyond to ensure student success. It is because of their dedication and leadership that we have been learning in person since August.
While I have not met as many of you as I had hoped to meet by this point, I count you among my blessings. Thank you for your gifts of kindness, prayers, and words of encouragement. This amazing school would not exist without you and the time, treasure, and talents you share with us. You are a very special gift to Episcopal, and we are incredibly grateful.
I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season filled with love and as much togetherness as you can safely manage.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Dr. Carrie Steakley
Head of School
Lessons and Carols 2020
The Knights Before Christmas
The Night Before Christmas
Santa stopped in for the annual second grade Polar Express Day! With hot chocolate, holiday pajamas and big smiles all around, this Lower School tradition is a special way to get everyone in the holiday spirit.
If we’ve learned anything this school year, it’s that we truly are all in this together. With that in mind, Arts Department Director Paige Gagliano set out on a mission to celebrate the resiliency and spirit of community that in-person learning has required from students and teachers alike. What resulted was a Middle School play that provided hope, humor and joy in a way that only the arts can achieve.
Creating art of any kind this year has required determination and flexibility. However, the arts faculty have never wavered from their commitment to a meaningful student arts experience because of their belief that art has a significant role to play in helping people cope and connect. This year, students have continued making music together by practicing instruments outdoors and even hosting an outdoor band concert. In order to share the traditional “Jazz Nutcracker” dance performance with others in the Upper School community, the dancers were filmed, and the video shared during announcements. The Episcopal singers even found a way to continue the tradition of Lessons and Carols with a filmed rendition that was shared with family and friends.
When the time came to think about a Middle School theater production, that same determination held true. With “We’re All in this Together,” Gagliano and her students developed an offering that told the story of school life during these unique times. The story addresses distance learning, face coverings, the longing for regular school and the loss of loved ones. Ultimately, a sense of gratitude for what we have and all that has been accomplished prevailed, and students celebrated the sacrifices and commitment of everyone who has worked together to make sure learning continues.
Organizing the play was no easy feat. There were ongoing adjustments to the script, stage blocking and role assignment revisions and numerous starts and stops. “You know how it is doing a show about a pandemic during a pandemic…things happen,” says Gagliano. After the roller coaster planning process, the show made its debut. Students, families, faculty and staff truly appreciated the experience, with Middle School Division Head Mark Engstrom offering “appreciation of the Herculean efforts.”
As we celebrate the holiday season, we offer thanks for the spirit of a Knight that drives our community forward, whether it’s in the classroom, on the stage or on the field.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
School traditions are important, especially the annual Junior Ring Ceremony. The occasion marks the “passing of the torch” from the senior class to the junior class and means students are one step closer to beginning the next phase in their educational journey.
A delegation of seventeen Episcopal students participated in the virtual Louisiana YMCA Youth Legislature conference from Friday, December 4 - December 6. On Friday, each student presented bills they had written and debate bills in committee.
On Saturday, bills that passed committee were debated in a House or Senate chamber. Seniors Adam Azmeh and Charlie Roth, and Juniors Emily Berg, Ruby Friloux, Ryan Asefi had bills that passed committee and were debated in a House or Senate chamber. All bills that passed were then evaluated by the Supreme Court for constitutionality before heading to the governor’s desk for approval. Emily Berg and Ruby Friloux’s bill passed their House chamber, was signed by the governor, and was voted by the members and leaders in that chamber as the outstanding bill in their House chamber. Senior Charlie Roth was voted by members and leaders in his chamber as an outstanding delegate.
On the final day’s plenary session, Shreya Kamath and Sarah Theriot’s bill passed the full House of Representatives and was signed by the governor. Abhay Basireddy and Robert Xing’s bill was one of just four bills debated by the full Senate and, but unfortunately was not passed.
This year’s delegation included ninth graders Isabella Civello, Glynes Hill, Riley Posey, and Joey Roth; tenth graders Akshay Basireddy, Shreya Kamath, and Carter McLean, Thomas O’Connor, and Sarah Theriot; juniors Ryan Asefi, Emily Berg, Davis Eglin, and Ruby Friloux; twelfth graders Adam Azmeh, Abhay Basireddy, Matthew Bickham, Charlie Roth, and Robert Xing.
Dr. Rebecca Kuhn
Dr. Rebecca Kuhn, Global and Social Studies Director, Exchange Program Coordinator, and AP Psychology teacher, has taught social studies classes at Episcopal since 2016 including AP World History, World History, US History, and US Government. Prior to moving to Baton Rouge, she lived and taught high school in South Korea and South Florida. She holds degrees from Sterling College, The University of Kansas, and Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Kuhn enjoys travelling, reading, and singing. She is married to Dr. Alan Newton.
Sports have been a part of Episcopal head girls basketball coach and 2009 graduate Taylor Mims Wharton’s life for as long as she can remember. Her first athletic outing was playing tee-ball at three years old and even now she still remembers the experience and her teammates. The following year, at the age of four, Taylor dribbled a basketball for the first time as part of an organized team and she hit the pitch as a soccer player. With a dad for a coach, competing just seemed natural for young Taylor. As an only child, she also appreciated the camaraderie that existed with her teammates as they carpooled to practices and games and swapped stories about life in the same way sisters might do. Sports was a family affair from the very beginning, and it remains so to this day.
In seventh grade, Taylor earned a spot on the Episcopal varsity girls basketball team. In a basketball-themed scrapbook created by her proud mom, Kim, there are photos of Taylor in her varsity Episcopal uniform making her first appearance as an athlete on the LSU PMAC court. She was only 12 years old. In 2004 as a Middle School student, Taylor had already lettered in basketball, earning an Athletic Award signed by then head basketball coach Travis Bourgeois. Taylor’s success on the court continued with newspaper write-ups touting her performances. Then, on December 1st of her eighth grade year something quite unexpected occurred. During drills, Taylor pivoted in practice and heard a strange sound in her knee. After limping to the sideline and realizing that her knee didn’t feel right, Taylor made a visit to the team trainer. That sound turned out to be a torn ACL and meniscus. The injury required surgery and took Taylor out of the game she loved for eight long months. However, it gave her something even more meaningful and important than basketball.
“Basketball seemed to be everything but when it was taken away, I found my identity.”
As Taylor underwent surgery to repair her knee, her teammates and coaches rallied around her. Her parents, who have always been her number one fans, were by her side the entire way as she worked to strengthen her leg and get back to the game. As she spent time in bed resting her knee, Taylor devoted time to reading the Bible. She and her parents were faithful churchgoers, but during this downtime Taylor said she really “got it.” “I found my identity in Christ,” she says. “Basketball is something I love but it’s not who I am. I’m a Christian, that’s who I am.” For Taylor, an injury that hurt and took her out of the game actually brought her tremendous joy - the joy of discovering what she is made of and who she truly is. It is that joy and sense of tremendous faith that leads her in all of life’s adventures.
Those adventures included successfully competing in volleyball and softball in addition to her time on the basketball court. After graduating from Episcopal, Taylor played basketball for College of Charleston and Southeastern Louisiana University. In 2014, she returned to her high school alma mater to lead the Knights basketball program, and she has loved every minute of it.
“Eventually the basketball stops bouncing. Being a good person will last your entire life.”
As the girls basketball coach, Taylor shares life lessons with her athletes. She reminds them that there will be challenges in life, but they can and will overcome adversity. She says basketball teaches competitors to work hard, to bounce back and how to fail. She also stresses the importance of respecting your opponents, the officials and the opposing coaches. “Do your best,” she says. “Do it the right way.”
Part of doing things the right way means staying humble and caring for others in meaningful ways. Each year, Taylor and her team of Knights participate in community service efforts together. The team has assisted with food drives and helped with Christmas toy drives. Last school year, they even made it a point to cheer on the Lower School girls basketball team. In addition, the Knights host weekly Bible study sessions with the seniors choosing the topics and leading the discussion.
Taylor is assisted in her coaching efforts by her dad Raymond, who taught her a lot of what she puts into practice. Raymond is a former college athlete and has coached for more than 30 years. Taylor says it’s important to have a great assistant that you can trust and rely on to tell you the truth. Not surprisingly, Taylor says the two have the same basketball mindset with a passion for the defensive aspects of the game. During the season, the two spend six of seven days of the week together, and Taylor wouldn’t want it any other way. “It’s fun working with my dad,” she says.
When they aren’t coaching the Knights, Taylor and her family can often be found watching sports together. As you might imagine, the occasion is lively with so many athletic-minded fans in the same room. “We’re always talking to the TV,” says Taylor. “It’s hard to watch without dissecting each play.” This year, there’s an additional voice in the room as Taylor’s husband, Alex, has joined in on the action. Taylor and Alex were married earlier this year. The original spring wedding ceremony included a guest list of 300. In the midst of the pandemic, that list quickly had to be trimmed to 12. However, looking back Taylor says the experience was great. “We made the best out of it,” she says with a smile. In true 2020 style, the Episcopal coaches and players organized a car parade in Taylor and Alex’s cul-de-sac which is certainly something that won’t soon be forgotten.
Taylor is still learning and growing. This summer, she began working toward a doctorate in leadership studies with a concentration in athletic administration. Taylor gives her mom a lot of credit for her academic success, saying mom kept her focused on her studies even when Taylor was only thinking about the hardwood. She also credits Episcopal with her academic success saying college was a breeze after her experience as a Knight. She says as an adult she now appreciates that her parents enrolled her in Episcopal as a kindergartener. “They sacrificed a lot for me to be here with their time and finances,” she says. That commitment paid off. “The whole experience here shaped me,” says Taylor. “I would not trade a moment of it.”
The Episcopal community has long been a fan of Taylor. As a student, she was a recipient of the Webster Cup and Annslee Laura Phillips Female Athlete of the Year Award. As a coach and teacher, she continues to make tremendous contributions to the school’s athletics program and the students she mentors. Join us in thanking her for the difference she makes.
Compassionate, curious, subject matter experts. Teachers are often described this way. Educators in the year 2020 can also be described as adaptable, flexible, creative and determined. Most parents who spent time at home with their children during the spring’s quarantine would agree that teaching can be difficult. This year, more than ever, teachers are being challenged to engage students in creative and appropriate ways. They are rising to the challenge and finding ways to do just that through collaboration and innovative thinking.
How do you teach science six feet apart?
Middle School science teacher Stacy Hill loves teaching science, especially the hands-on experiences that her sixth graders enjoy, such as archaeological digs or constructing model buildings to withstand earthquakes. To make science come to life this school year, Hill teamed up with Roman history expert Steve Latuso and tapped into technology to create a lesson on volcanoes that wowed students.
Sixth graders are naturally intrigued by volcanoes. These disasters seem far away and more exciting than the summer hurricanes that are common closer to home. Students were eager to learn about the causes of volcanoes, the types that exist and the impact that volcanoes have on the planet. They were also excited to learn about historically significant eruptions such as that of Mount Vesuvius which buried Pompeii in 25 meters of ash in 79 A.D. To build upon student enthusiasm, Hill collaborated with Latuso who previously taught Middle School Latin in addition to his role in the Episcopal IT department. While Hill discussed the ash and its impacts, Latuso focused on the details of daily life in ancient Rome. “The kids felt like they had a guest speaker,” says Hill. “He’s an expert in something I’m not.” The collaboration provided the students the best of both worlds as they learned science and history in the same class period.
Would you stay or would you go?
To create a complementary hands-on experience, Hill and Latuso turned to technology. Using Google Earth, the duo took students on a tour of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii. Discussions quickly turned to the realities of living near an active volcano and whether the students would stay or go in the event of an eruption. For the lesson, students had to stay and devise a way to reduce the impact. In years past, constructing a volcano and an eruption reduction system would have been done in groups using modeling clay and props. In 2020, students brought their ideas to life using Minecraft: Education Edition. This tech twist was a hit. “I’m blown away,” says Hill. “I was completely amazed at the level of engagement.” Hill says students assisted each other and imagined the impacts to homes, people and even pets near their virtual volcanoes. Students who may not otherwise speak up in class had the opportunity to share their building talents with classmates, providing them a meaningful opportunity to shine. “It’s meeting them where they are,” says Hill. “It puts the engagement at another level.”
Latuso used Minecraft: Education Edition in a similar way last school year when he challenged Middle School Latin students to construct a Roman bath using the virtual blocks. “Student engagement was off the charts,” he says. He was pleased to see a similar reaction this year. “It’s not surprising, but it is inspiring,” he says. “It’s an inclusive way where everybody could experience it. Students worked individually and collaboratively simultaneously. I think it’s cool that we are a school that can do this.”
There is more excitement in store for students. Before the Christmas holiday, the volcano enthusiasts will participate in an archaeological project in the QUEST Center in Foster Hall. Center Coordinator Dr. Elizabeth Lewis teamed up with Hill to organize an exciting experience that is sure to send students home with visions of the ancient past dancing in their heads.
Episcopal math lessons include everything from the latest technology to tried-and-true instruments that humans have relied upon for ages. Recently, the QUEST Center in Foster Hall has been buzzing with the sounds of students crunching numbers in some very creative ways.
A sixth grade lesson on ratios and speed went well beyond calculators and textbooks. To start, students learned a lesson from the track and field playbook and ran laps around the field house track to study speed. For the culminating activity, teacher Nancy Calloway brought students to the QUEST Center’s Digital Media Lab where they used Lego Mindstorms EV3 robots to determine average speed and distance traveled. In small groups, students worked together to make observations and calculations. Calloway says the integration of technology provided the opportunity for collaboration with experienced students taking on the role of experts. “It has been a joy to see these students step up to the challenge and help others along the way,” she says.
Marking Time with Equations
As sixth graders explored speed, just across the QUEST Center eighth graders were creating equations to display the time on a clock. “During the last two or three weeks of this semester, I wanted to work on strengthening some important skills that my students would need for their Upper School classes,” says eighth grade math teacher James Moroney. “One of those skills is solving equations.” However, Moroney didn’t want to simply have students solve problems in the classroom, so he devised a creative, new way to make the lesson more engaging. For the assignment, students had to write an equation that when solved represents the number on a clock. After solving the equation, students then had to design the clock face and construct the clock with gears and hands. The clocks will later be gifted to the Episcopal teacher of their choice.
We Love Fractions
In Kitchen Chemistry, fourth graders baked cookies inspired by the book “The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street” by Karina Yan Glaser. The recipe required the students to use their new knowledge of fractions as they measured out brown sugar and flour. Students also learned how to sift flour and mix dough. When discussing the project and the ½ teaspoons of this and 3 tablespoons of that, the students were confident with fractions. Once the cookies were baked, students rotated to the QUEST Center Great Hall where they used Lego bricks to build a replica of the Vanderbeeker home. It was the perfect combination for a reading and arithmetic lesson.
QUEST Center Space Adds Up
“When problem solving, it is important for students to be able to experiment and test their results,” says Calloway. “Having a space where they can actually see and do the experiment and test the results in real time allows students to make conjectures, verify or refute the results and ultimately improve their ability to ‘apply’ mathematics to the real world.” With 14,000 square feet of learning space, the QUEST Center provides ample space for mathematical exploration. Calloway began using the robots last year, but she says this year the added space in the QUEST Center made a significant difference. “The QUEST Center allows for open spaces where the students are able to spread out (social distance) while still working with a partner or group to complete a hands-on task,” she says.
Moroney says the QUEST Center provides an opportunity for students to explore real world applications of math concepts such as ratios, distance and time. “One of the most important things that the QUEST Center offers to our students, especially in math, is the ability to do trial and error in problem solving,” he says. “The space that the QUEST Center provides as well as the different tools and technology in which the students are exposed allows them to experiment with mathematical (and scientific concepts) in a way that allows them to make mistakes and correct them in an incredibly engaging way.” Moroney plans to continue finding opportunities to use the space this school year. Liz Crawford, whose fourth grade class baked cookies and built houses all in one class period, appreciates the ease of conducting lessons in the facility. “The space makes it so doable,” she says in between measuring and mixing. The fourth grade lesson was appreciated by QUEST Center Coordinator Dr. Elizabeth Lewis. “This week, passing by the Chemistry Kitchen, one could hear fourth graders figuring out the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, the importance of sifting flour, and how to read and to double a recipe,” she says. “Baking chocolate cookies from scratch is a delicious way to practice math skills.”
The learning and excitement that fills the QUEST Center each day is inspiring for Dr. Lewis. “My heart is full when I see students moving around our new spaces, trying different solutions to problems, tweaking their solutions when they aren’t quite right, and then testing out the revised plans until they work just right,” she says. In just a short time, Dr. Lewis and the QUEST Center have already provided a range of new learning opportunities for Lower and Middle School students. We can’t wait to see what they do during the rest of the school year!
Despite the challenges presented by 2020, Episcopal athletes and coaches are putting together incredible seasons. The teams are giving it their all even during times of uncertainty. Congratulations to our fall athletes for accomplishing so much! Go Knights!
The boys and girls both brought home the Class 2A state championship titles again this year! The boys team for the 25th year in a row! For our girls team, Callie Hardy earned the 2020 Individual LHSAA Cross Country State Champion title and Scarlett Spender was the State Runner Up!
The Episcopal swimmers had a great state meet with the girls team finishing as the Division III State Runner Up and the boys splashing in at fifth. Both teams celebrated impressive results and even some record-setting finishes, courtesy of Eugene Jiang in the Division III 50 and 100 meter freestyle events.
Alexa Ryon Bennett - 3rd in 50 free
Abigail Gibson - 2nd in 200 free and 3rd in 500 free
400 yard free relay - 3rd (Gibson, Melancon, Simoneax and Bennett)
Top 8 - Kate Oehrle (4th in 100 yard breast), Rylee Simoneaux (5th 100 yard free, 6th in 100 yard back), 5th in 200 Yard Medley Relay (Simoneaux, Oehrle, Bennett, Ciesielski), 4th in 200 Yard free relay (Bennett, Ciesielski, Melancon, Gibson)
Top 16 - Olivia Melancon, Grace Ciesielski, Kate Oehrle, Andrea Thompson, Kaitlyn Vidrine
Eugene Jiang - Champion in 50 free and 100 yard free
2nd in 200 yard free relay (Jiang, Albert, Be, Naquin)
Top 8 - Ben Naquin (6th in 50 free, 4th in 100 back), Evan Jurkovic (7th in 500 yard free), 4th in 400 yard free relay (Jurkovic, Albert, Be, Jiang)
Top 16 - James Be, Evan Jurkovic
Updated: The Knights fought hard against Lafayette Christian and came up just short in the quarterfinal contest with a final score of 14 to 12. Congratulations on an outstanding season!
The Episcopal Knights are the 2020 District Champions! After an incredible season of football, #4 Episcopal will host a quarterfinal contest against #5 Lafayette Christian this Friday, December 4th at 7 pm. Congratulations to Oliver Jack who was selected as the WAFB Sportsline Player of the Week AND the WBRZ Fans Choice Award Winner! Oliver had a tremendous performance in the game versus Port Allen carrying the ball 13 times for 186 and three touchdowns!
After a great season, the volleyball Knights advanced to the regional round of the playoffs. Congratulations to Izzy Besselman for being selected to the Baton Rouge All Metro Volleyball Team and the 1st Team All District Team along with teammate Ryleigh Volland. Additionally, Francie Oliver and Maeve McCracken were named as Honorable Mention selections for the All District Team.
Teaming Up for the Community
Episcopal student athletes teamed up with members of the National Honor Society to deliver 4,600 pounds of food to the Shepherd’s Market Food Pantry just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you to everyone who supported this annual food drive and thank you to members of the girls basketball team and the football team for their assistance with delivery.