On Friday, April 30th, the class of 2021 gathered on the Field House terrace for their first official alumni event. A barbecue lunch was provided by The Episcopal Alumni Association, and alumni parents who have graduating seniors were invited to attend. Andy McCracken ’83 spoke to the group about community and the special opportunity to stay involved and have a support system long after their days as students. The event featured a meaningful component called “Thank Back, Give Back” where students were encouraged to write a note to a teacher, staff member or coach that made an impact on them during their time at Episcopal. With all the excitement and bustle of senior year, it was a significant moment to watch seniors reflect on their Episcopal journey and express gratitude to those who supported, encouraged, and inspired them along the way. This week, development staff delivered the notes to individuals who were recognized along with a door hanger they could proudly display to signify their influence in the life of a senior knight.
The 2020-21 school year has been filled with obstacles, but this senior class has come together and made the most of their last year. The event was an important reminder that while their days as students were coming to an end, the alumni community is ready to welcome them with open arms! Once a knight, always a knight!
Please join us in congratulating members of the Class of 2021 as they announce their college enrollment decisions. Look for more college announcements next week.
Please join us in congratulating members of the Class of 2021 as they announce their college enrollment decisions.
Anybody that knows me knows sports have always been an integral part of my life. I love to push myself and challenge myself to do and be better and whatever I choose to participate in, and my love for sports only further reflects that." Oliver Jack, Class of 2021
Senior Oliver Jack signed with the University of Louisiana Lafayette where he will continue competing in track and field throwing events like shot put and discus. Oliver, who has competed in track and field since sixth grade, looks forward to continuing his athletic journey. “Ultimately, college is what you make of it, and I feel ULL’s environment and atmosphere fits me perfectly, I am extremely excited to say that I am a Ragin Cajun.”
While the recent signing day announcement was one of celebration, there were times when Oliver wasn’t sure this day would come. “There were many restless nights and big question marks floating in my head constantly during quarantine, but no matter what I had to continue to do my part and do everything within my ability to turn my dream for college athletics into reality,” he says. “Looking back on all the time, work, and dedication I’ve poured into sports and finally getting to say I made it to the next level is truly a dream come true.”
Episcopal track and field Coach Claney Duplechin is thrilled to see Oliver continue his throwing career. “He is such an outstanding thrower, but he is also a super person,” says Coach Dupe. “He is our captain and is one of the very best individuals I have ever worked with. That kind of says much since I’ve been coaching 45 years. I hope he has a wonderful experience in college athletics.”
Oliver advises classmates with a similar dream to never stop competing with themselves. “If you are constantly comparing yourself to others, whether they are more or less successful then you limits your ability based on your perception of someone else,” he says. “Your goal each and every day should be to wake up and strive to get better and be the best version of yourself.” He advises classmates to remain persistent, focused and willing to learn and improve in their pursuit of a college athletic career.
In addition to competing in track and field, Oliver has competed with the Knights’ football and powerlifting teams this year. He is also the Class President. At ULL, he plans to pursue an engineering degree.
Join us in congratulating Oliver on this next step in his educational journey.
Senior Ryan Armwood joined with Oliver in making his college announcement. Look for more on his announcement soon.
After missing last year’s Field Day due to quarantine, Middle School students were especially excited to participate this year. The Peer Leaders and Student Council representatives helped Middle School Counselor Alicia Kelly plan an afternoon of excitement. Kelly says “Field Day is important so that our students can build community. It gives them a chance to bond, connect, and have fun at the end of a stressful school year.”
After lunch on Thursday, April 22, students travelled in a group with half of their grade level to six different stations, each set up and run by faculty members and volunteers. Traditional field day games like kickball and warball were led by the PE coaches in the spirit of friendly competition. Fine arts teachers held a talent show in the black box, where students demonstrated skills like singing, dancing, and even yodeling. Sixth grade student Tiffany Foxworth-Haley won first place in her group by showing off her beautiful artwork.
Field day also gave the Middle School students a chance to support a worthwhile cause called the Ekam USA Foundation. One of the foundation’s projects is “Kids Feeding Kids,” which helps expecting mothers in India raise backyard vegetable gardens to support their families. Students purchased snacks, drinks, and popsicles, with all proceeds going to this foundation, and raised $530 in a single afternoon!
This year’s Field Day also included some new stations and surprises. In the “Teacher Challenge” station, students were tasked with two competitions involving their teacher group leader. The first challenge was a race to see which team could mummify their teacher first using two rolls of toilet paper. Moving quickly, but not so quickly that the toilet paper broke, students wrapped their teachers from head to toe. The second “Teacher Challenge” left the Middle School faculty covered in orange dust. Teachers donned shower caps, which were carefully topped with shaving cream. Students then gleefully threw cheese balls at their teachers, trying to get them to stick in the shaving cream.
The biggest surprise, however, was what awaited students on the back playground. Greeting the students as they walked up was a 24 foot inflatable slide, a giant human foosball table, and an inflatable archery set. The Parents’ Guild graciously donated the funds to rent the equipment for this station, which all the students enjoyed.
Field Day is a way for students to have fun together, build friendships, and enjoy the beautiful spring weather as they anticipate the end of another school year. Thank you to Mrs. Kelly, the Middle School faculty and staff, the Parents’ Guild, and the volunteers for making this year’s Field Day experience so successful.
Kristina St. George
Kristina St. George teaches eighth grade World Geography. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree in education from Northwestern State University. She began her teaching career in East Baton Rouge Parish schools in 2007. After living abroad in Saudi Arabia for three years, she joined the Episcopal faculty in 2017. She loves to travel and has visited over 30 countries throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. Mrs. St. George is excited to share her international experiences and hopes to encourage global perspectives in her students.
Hands-on learning experiences are a big part of what makes the Episcopal experience so powerful. Recently, the oldest Lower School students showed off what they’ve been working on. The QUEST Center was filled with excitement!
Do What You Love!
That was the idea behind the fifth grade Maracuja or Passion Project. For months now students have been exploring their passions, and this week they shared what they have learned in the first-ever Episcopal Maracuja Showcase!
The showcase was a celebration of learning and exploring. The soon-to-be Middle Schoolers shared what they love about everything from architecture and art to event planning and wood carving. Student paintings, photography and published works were on display as well as a custom-built robot named Vernie.
In addition to doing what they love, these students learned something about themselves. Many of them said the most challenging part of the project was narrowing down their many interests and finding the one they wanted to explore most. In speaking with the students, their natural enthusiasm for their topics of choice was obvious. As they discussed the topics, they spoke with ease and pride. Once their Lower School counterparts began rotating through the showcase, the fifth graders were eager to share the experience.
Years from now it will be exciting to see whether today’s fifth graders have continued fine-tuning their current passions or whether they have followed a different interest.
Fourth Grade Arcade Scores Big!
The excitement and creativity of the annual fourth grade arcade returned this year. The tradition, which challenges students to build an arcade game out of recycled materials is a student and teacher favorite. The fourth grade Knights did not disappoint!
With just tape, cardboard and simple gears, students created games that people of all ages would be happy to play. There was a unique take on The Price is Right legend Plinko. Students also created everything from a foosball table to a claw crane game. As younger Lower School students visited the arcade, there was a feeling of a traditional arcade setting with games dispensing tickets and students excited to get the high score.
Th Lower School arcade was inspired by the story of a boy named Caine, who built his own arcade at the age of nine. Click here to read Caine’s story and how it inspired a global cardboard challenge.
The Episcopal greenhouse by the numbers:
Hydroponics: Gardening for the Future
The greenhouse has come alive with the excitement of Lower School gardeners. From the littlest Knights to next year’s Middle Schoolers, students are planting seeds and preparing for their future. “We’re teaching kids something that they can do their whole life,” says QUEST Center Coordinator Dr. Elizabeth Lewis. She says while not all students currently grow food at home, the practice has real application for the future when students may live in crowded cities or even on another planet.
Episcopal Chef Pat Mahon explains that the crop is grown entirely in water using a nutrient film technique system. Hydroponic gardening is a process of growing plants in water, adding only soluble fertilizer and maintaining a precise pH balance. The plants thrive in this environment and can be harvested year-round.
An Edible Education Starts with a Seed
The greenhouse, which was made possible by the Parents’ Guild several years ago, lets students get their hands dirty – or wet – while being introduced to the gardening process. The process is much more than simply planting a crop. The edible education begins with students learning more about how seeds grow. “Little kids are learning the life cycle,” says Dr. Lewis, who sees tremendous potential for hands-on learning and exploration in the greenhouse.
The learning doesn’t end when the plants hit the water. Teachers bring students back throughout the growing season to measure, chart, graph and even predict the size of their future crop. Dr. Lewis will introduce students to the concept of pollination and the importance of bees as students eventually try their hands at self-pollinating their little sprouts. In addition, the greenhouse teaches students about environmental stewardship. Hydroponic gardening reduces the overall carbon footprint when compared to that of commercially purchased food because the process doesn’t require gas-powered equipment or trucks to deliver it. Maintenance time and work hours are also significantly reduced.
Cultivating Healthy Choices
This is a gift that keeps on giving and growing,” says Chef Pat, who points out that at full production the greenhouse can sustain the lettuce needs of the entire Episcopal student body. He says it just makes sense to use fresh, local produce whenever it’s available and that it’s an added bonus that the greenhouse produce is herbicide and pesticide free. There is also the hope that if students grow healthy food they will be more likely to make healthy choices.
It’s exciting to see everything what is being cultivated one seed at a time!
What are you growing this spring? Tell us about your garden in the comments section below.
“Attending a prestigious school like the United States Naval Academy is more than I ever imagined. It is important to me because it is opening up new opportunities for me to grow in all aspects of my life, especially leadership and discipline.” Peyton Pontif, Class of 2021
Senior Peyton Pontif will compete with the United States Naval Academy’s track and field team as a javelin thrower next year. He says after participating in a track camp in Annapolis he “fell in love with the campus and the hardworking like minded people who created this amazing sense of camaraderie and team work.” Being a water enthusiast made the Navy a logical choice. “I was especially interested in the sailing, navigation, and diving courses that all midshipmen partake in,” he says.
As Peyton navigated Upper School life, he played football and participated in track for four years. In addition, he was a member of the Knights baseball team for two years. Head football and baseball coach Travis Bourgeois says Peyton had an outstanding senior season. “He led the team in receiving yards and touchdown receptions,” he says. “He also was valuable as a defensive end when the team had injuries on the defense.”
Peyton continues his javelin journey after finding that it was the right fit for him. “I have been throwing the javelin since my freshman year – it was kind of a whim that I started,” he says. “I also played baseball and I tried to be a pitcher but I struggled to throw strikes.” Realizing he could throw hard, Peyton found that javelin allowed him to use his natural ability. Going forward, Peyton says he may also get involved with decathlons. “I enjoy learning new things and the sense of being humbled that comes along with being a beginner,” he says.
Regardless of what he pursues, his coaches are confident in his potential for success. “Peyton is a tremendous athlete who I’m sure will excel at the next level,” says track and field coach Claney Duplechin. “Peyton has a vision on where he wants to be and I feel that he is self motivated enough to get there,” says Bourgeois.
As far as classmates who may also aspire to compete at the next level, Peyton offers the following advice. “First and foremost, work exceedingly hard at your craft – put in the extra time and effort, in addition to that I believe that it is so important to always be searching for better ways to take care of your body whether that is eating healthy, practicing yoga, or taking an ice bath, which are all things that I have picked up through my time as an athlete at EHS.”
Peyton says all Naval Academy graduates earn a bachelor’s degree in science. He is considering a study of econometrics/quantitative economics and cyber/electronic operations and warfare. “I have a sense for what I want to do in the military after I graduate from the academy (special warfare or Marines), but most midshipmen change their mind at some point during their schooling,” he says.
Join us in congratulating Peyton on the next step in his journey.
Read more about other Episcopal athletes moving on to compete at the next level by clicking the names below:
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. John 13:15
A recent Holy Week service project performed by PreK-3, PreK-4 and kindergarten students is proof that you’re never too little to be of service to others. During Lent, Lower School religion teacher Laura Portwood focused her class lessons on the acts of service performed by Jesus including washing the feet of the disciples. Once students had an understanding of the importance of helping others, Portwood advised the little Knights that they had homework. She says the word homework caused a stir among the students because they had never had homework before. As their eyes grew wide and they enthusiastically discussed what the assignment might be, Portwood gave each student a little bag with a hand towel inside and asked them to go home and see how they could be helpful. It was a simple, open-ended task with tremendous learning potential.
“All the kids were happy to do it,” says Portwood. She says as the students discussed ways to be helpful the ideas started building upon each other until everyone was eager to do their part. Portwood says it was rewarding to see their enthusiasm for what they could do, and the assignment tapped into this age group’s natural desire to be helpful. “They think about others,” she says with a smile. The final step in the assignment was for family members to submit photos of the student service. Portwood was delighted with the work that was accomplished.
A lesson in service is an important part of the Episcopal experience. Portwood says that students must develop the service “muscle” early on or it won’t work as an adult. She hopes the recent Holy Week service project not only encourages the young students to be helpful but also helps them begin to develop compassion and empathy for others. “Hopefully it will grow on its own even as it’s fostered by school,” says Portwood. “It’s something that they could really do and experience the joy of serving somebody else and feel the excitement of being appreciated.”
From washing windows and counters to helping family members and pets, these young Knights are well on their way to being difference-makers in their communities, and we appreciate them. Congratulate these students in the comments section below.
One in four Louisiana middle schoolers is vaping. By the time those students reach high school, that number is one in three. Ochsner Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist Travis Costanza recently shared these statistics with sixth, seventh and eighth grade students. Costanza regularly speaks with students about the dangers of vaping, and his recent visit to Episcopal provided students the opportunity to learn more about common myths surrounding the practice.
1. Vaping is a safer alternative to cigarette smoking. - False
Costanza says while some people think of vaping as a safer smoking option or even a way to begin kicking the habit, vaping is not safer. In fact, he advises patients in the cessation program not to transition to vaping devices as a way to stop smoking. He points out that the ingredients in vaping liquids are harmful. “There’s a ton of unknown juices,” he says. “It’s like a science experiment in your hand.” In addition, Costanza advised students that while many people think that vaping liquid does not contain nicotine, there are high levels of the chemical present. “If you vape, you’re putting nicotine in your body,” he says. He says vaping allows for a deeper intake of nicotine because the chemicals are so much smoother on the throat and lungs.
2. Vaping is targeted at adults. - False
Costanza told students that teenagers have always been the target population for cigarette manufacturers, and the same is true for vaping companies. He says the companies, which are frequently owned by cigarette makers, use fonts, colors and flavors similar to popular candy, making the products eye-catching and giving the appearance that they are safe. Costanza says the developing brains of adolescents make them susceptible to experimenting with substances and becoming addicted, and once that happens it can be difficult for them to stop.
3. Girls are more likely to vape than boys. - True
Costanza asked the audience which gender vapes more, and many students speculated that boys are more likely to vape. However, Costanza says it is actually the girls. He pointed out that vaping devices are more discreet than traditional cigarettes making them easier to conceal. This ability to be discreet may lead some teens to try vaping.
Several students asked why vaping devices are allowed if they are known to be dangerous. “You have a chance to say no,” Costanza replied. He advised students that it is up to them to educate themselves and say no to harmful substances.
To learn more about vaping, check out the links below.