Having Julien, a student from France stay with me really challenged my definition of the word “normal.” After a few days of showing him my routine and how we live here in Baton Rouge, it became clear that our routines did not have as many overlaps as I expected. Perhaps the most significant was the fact that it is very common for teenagers to drive to school here in the United States, while driving is prohibited until the age of 18 in France. Our first drive to school together, Julien held on tightly to the handle of the passenger door as I backed out of my driveway. I looked over at him and asked him if he was feeling okay, and he explained to me that this was the first time he had ridden in a car not driven by an adult. I couldn’t help but laugh when he told me that. It was so odd for me to hear that he could not even take driver’s education until he turned 16, and here I am, responsible for the safety of myself, those around me, and knowing and obeying all traffic laws. It was crazy for me to think that something that is so routine to me was something so foreign and outrageous to his definition of normal.
As the days went by and Julien and I become closer, I grew more and more fascinated by the lack of overlap between our “normals” in little things. On a rainy day when I suggested we beat the rain by grabbing an umbrella at a Walgreens, Julien was surprised to see that American drug stores offered products beyond the pharmacy. Driving to Walmart for a late night run for some toilet paper, the same thing happened. As we pulled up to the glaring neon glow of the sign, Julien was surprised to see that the same store that housed carrots and canned goods also contained an optical shop, an electronics department and a tire center. It was odd for me to realize that a normal grocery store for me was planetary compared to the local grocery stores and bakeries that he frequented back home. To Julien, my American “normal” was, quite literally, larger than his surroundings in France--from the big box stores to my mom’s mid-size SUV. Even going to Starbucks to grab a cup of coffee, something that is a quintessential American experience for many, was something new to Julien and his friends. An ordinary experience for me was actually exciting and novel for our new friends.
viewpoint can be learned hands on with an exchange program like this one. By forming a friendship with someone who is not the same as you are, you are gaining a better understanding of their world view. You realize that the life that you lead is so different than the lives that other people live around the world, and being a part of an exchange is a way that we can celebrate our differences. I know that when I board that plane to France for the roles to flip, the world presented to me will be one that is still “normal”, just not my “normal”. Reframing normal to understand that there is more than one valid experience is a lesson that makes this program so special.
When it comes to being thankful, what tops the list for Episcopal PreK-3 students?
Being a stormtrooper at Halloween
The Knock Knock Museum
My mom reading books to me at night
Daddy swimming in the ocean with me
They may be the tiniest Knights, but they have very big hearts. Episcopal PreK-3 students studied Thanksgiving recently in their own version of a project-based learning activity. After teachers Kristen Cascio and Karen Murchison explained what it means to be thankful, the students were able to share what they are most grateful for this season. A sample of their list above reminds us that the world is truly full of blessings and gifts if we just look for them.
Surrounded by learning stations, books, puzzles and bright windows in the classroom behind the Greer Center stage, these youngsters explored Thanksgiving through food. Students and their teachers cooked popular side dishes such as satsuma cranberry sauce (aka red Jello in PreK-3 world!), honey butter, fresh green beans and pumpkin pie. Befitting a group of three year olds, the students got their hands messy and sticky while squeezing the juice from the satsumas. They also enthusiastically tried their hand at mixing and stirring and took turns following recipes.
To prepare for the annual PreK-3 Thanksgiving feast with parents, students also made one-of-a-kind handprint turkey hats complete with brightly colored feathers. Students enjoyed stringing the letters of their name onto a necklace to showcase their name on feast day. “At three they take such ownership of their name,” said Murchison as she sat at a little table preparing the hats for the big day. She says it was exciting to see the students recognize the letters of their name and make sure they had them all.
Cascio and Murchison say there is much more than stirring, gluing and stringing happening. They say while cooking the food is fun, it is also an opportunity to integrate a study of the five senses. As students were cooking, teachers asked them to smell, taste and even listen to their food (imagine the sound of a crunchy green bean). Students also shared their thoughts and ideas using complete sentences and used new vocabulary words they acquired through conversations, activities and books. Relating new foods to the senses even convinced some students to try the foods for the first time to the delight of many parents. While parents will enjoy the handprint turkey hat, Cascio says making hats and stringing beads is also a perfect opportunity to boost fine motor skills. All of this aligns with PreK-3 milestones and reinforces the overall goal of creating an awareness of the world around us.
Looking for a way to impart the meaning of Thanksgiving to your little Knights? Cascio and Murchison say the books "The Thankful Book" by Todd Parr and "Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks" by Margaret Sutherland have helped them with the Episcopal three year olds. After hearing the books at story time students were definitely ready to celebrate.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Episcopal Class of 2032!
Bravo! Fairies. Pirates. Lost Boys. Brave Girls. Mermaids. The costumes were brightly colored, the set was spectacularly detailed and the audience was enthralled as Peter Pan, Jr. hit the stage this week. It’s been 15 years since the tale became the first play to be performed on the VPAC stage. This year the boy who wouldn't grow up and the cast of characters returned to the stage in honor of this anniversary. The show featured a cast of 152 kids between third and eighth grades. 1-5-2! The average age of the students was ten years old, with many on stage for the very first time. While many of the students were new to performing, you certainly could not tell.
From the moment Peter Pan and the massive cast filled the stage and the surrounding area, to the cast’s final number there was a sense of excitement and joy throughout the VPAC. The young performers belted out musical numbers with confidence. They danced and delivered lines with ease. The performance was filled with pride, youthfulness and yes, even pixie dust.
Peter Pan, Jr. showcased the Episcopal community’s support and enthusiasm for each other. Family, friends, visiting schools and teachers from across campus were present to cheer on the young thespians. Nightly performances were sold out, with even tickets for the final dress rehearsal going fast. Many on campus were involved in making the show a success from the light and sound crews to the art students who made headpieces.
Perhaps this show of support and the encouragement felt among family and friends provided these first time actors the boost they needed to tackle the stage for the first time. No doubt for many of them this certainly will not be the last time. As they continue to participate in theater productions they will find that they grow from each experience with exposure to new people and an empathy and understanding that comes from playing the part of someone else.
Peter Pan, Jr. was the first play performed on the VPAC stage fifteen years ago. It’s safe to say today’s cast made the original crew proud with their rendition.
When our student vestry gathered a few weeks ago to decide on a theme for chapel this month, the Spirit moved them to focus on the topic of “shoes.” Now, on the surface, shoes may not seem like a very spiritual issue, but actually, shoes and feet are mentioned many times in the Bible. In the book of Exodus for example, Moses is told by God at the burning bush to take off his shoes, and in the Gospel of Matthew, John the Baptist prophesied about a man named Jesus, whose sandals he would not be worthy to untie. So, even in biblical times, we can see that footwear was considered quite important.
When I think about shoes, I think about the different shoes that I have owned through the years and how almost all of them served a different purpose depending on the activities in which I have been involved. Perhaps the shoes
Those boots served me really well and enabled me to climb to the top of some of the highest peaks that I have ever been on. Being a novice outdoorsmen is a role that I have really enjoyed at different times in my life and that trip back in the year 2000 was probably the highlight of my outdoor experiences to this point.
So, can we possibly pick just one pair of shoes that actually define us the most?
For me, that would be extremely difficult. The shoes I wear most often are definitely my teaching shoes since that is my occupation, but even these well-worn shoes do not completely define me as an individual. When I look in my closet at my different shoes, it reminds me that it is such a gift to have so many different areas of interest and opportunities to explore different roles. I think that is one of the great things about this school as well, there are so many opportunities here to try new things and experiment with playing different roles.
Our school truly has something for everyone from the arts to athletics from Lower School to Upper School. True to our identity as an Episcopal school, we also integrate spiritual formation into all aspects of the educational experience. It’s just who we are and what we do.
So this November, let’s be thankful for the opportunities we have and the people surrounding us. And next time you’re lacing up your shoes, think about how they define who you are and who you strive to be.
Matt Holt is the Director of the Center for Service Learning and the Upper School religion teacher. Matt earned a bachelor’s degree in arts and sciences from Louisiana State University. While in college, Matt worked as a counselor at the Episcopal summer camp near Pollock, Louisiana. It was during that time that he discovered his passion for working with young people. This led him to a career in youth ministry within the Episcopal Church. After serving in that capacity for several years and teaching at the Episcopal School in western Louisiana, Matt moved to New Orleans to help lead recovery efforts for the Episcopal Diocese following hurricane Katrina. It was during this time in New Orleans that he attended Tulane University and earned his teaching certificate.
My favorite body part is ears because I like glamorous and beautiful earrings! I also like hearing Skip bark.
My favorite body part is hands because I like playing video games.
My favorite body parts are my joints. Those are your knees and elbows. They are my favorite because they help your legs and arms move.
From head to toe, Episcopal second graders are in-the-know about the human body! Students learned about six body systems in a six week project-based learning activity. At the end of the study, students wrote scripts and starred in videos explaining everything from the cerebellum to the diaphragm. Did you know babies have more bones than adults and there are over 650 muscles in the body? Click the videos below to see the second graders explain all of this and more about each system.
A trip to the second grade classrooms was like stepping into a science lab. Walls were adorned with posters showing everything from the students’ eye color to how many youngsters have broken a bone. There were fingerprints, models of the ribs and skeleton creations. All of this learning was organized into phases – writing, investigating, experimenting and experiencing. There were also special guest speakers, who truly made an impact on the students.
Dr. Jason taught us that it is important to keep our bones strong and you can do that by eating healthy and exercising.
I learned you have to wear sunscreen to not get a sunburn. The sun makes you get moles.
Your hair keeps you warm. Also your brain helps you think. Bones help you not wiggle.
The students’ favorite adults even had the opportunity to get involved as test subjects. Using brightly colored yarn, the students measured their adults’ jaws, hands, height and even digestive tract. The group celebrated the project completion with a cookie and individual books written by the students about the journey a cookie makes once eaten.
What a great way to learn about how the body works. If only Anatomy 101 could be so much fun!
Girls Soccer had a very successful weekend in the Walker Jamboree, defeating Dunham, Catholic of Point Coupee and McKinley. The girls meet the Cubbies of U-High on Tuesday night at Burbank Soccer Complex Field 4 for their first regular season match starting at 6 pm. The team then travels to Pope John Paul in Slidell on Thursday.
Boys Soccer celebrated a win against McKinley High School last week and will meet St. Thomas More on Wednesday in Lafayette. The boys will return to Baton Rouge on Friday to take on McKinley High School again in regular season play.
For a full list of athletic events, visit our webpage http://www.episcopalbr.org/athletics.html. Follow @EHSBRAthletics on Twitter for in game updates! GO KNIGHTS!
Happy Veterans Day!
Most of us know someone who served our country in the armed services. Some of us may have experienced the loneliness of a spouse or parent’s deployment and the strain that time away can cause a family. There is also the pride and admiration felt when seeing your loved one through the lens of a uniform or a rank or the sense of wonder in hearing stories from days spent on a ship, in a plane or on the ground.
We are thankful for our veterans and the many roles they play in our lives and in our country. How appropriate that this season of thanksgiving includes Veterans Day, providing a tangible opportunity to celebrate these special men and women. Thank you to the Episcopal veterans who shared their information with us.
Lower School students and staff recently expressed their gratitude during the annual Veterans Day celebration. Head of School Hugh McIntosh, who is also a Navy Veteran, shared a special message with students and saluted veterans in attendance. In addition, the names of service members affiliated with the school were added to the Thanksgiving wall hanging in Greer.
Veterans from all branches were recognized during the Lower School event. In keeping with the many roles they take on, veterans in attendance introduced themselves and their student. This reminds us that our veterans are also a part of the American family as fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, grandparents and friends. We are proud to have them as a part of our Episcopal family as well.
The Episcopal community thanks you for your service. We thank you for your commitment to each of us. You bring a new meaning to #strongeruKnighted.
Episcopal and the Advancement Team have much to be thankful for this season with a successful donor social, a new team member and 100% participation of faculty, staff, the Board of Trustees and The eFund Committee in The eFund.
Episcopal's Annual Leadership Donor Social was a Success!
Episcopal’s Annual Leadership Donor Social was recently held at the home of Head of School Hugh McIntosh. The generous donors of Episcopal enjoyed reuniting with friends and the opportunity to celebrate in Mr. McIntosh’s recently renovated home.
Mr. McIntosh expressed the school’s sincere gratitude to all the leadership level donors who have helped Episcopal become what it is today. “It is through the generous donations of time, talent and treasure that we are able to continue to prepare our students for purposeful and meaningful lives,” said Mr. McIntosh.
A special note of thanks was extended to Mrs. Aimee Broussard ‘85 and Mr. Mark Broussard for their leadership as chairs of The eFund Campaign for the 2016-2017 school year.
The school’s Board of Trustees and administration also presented the new Spirit • Mind • Body Capital Campaign to more than 75 attendees. Special recognition was given to Capital Campaign Co-Chairs Mr. Todd Graves ‘90 and Mr. Sean Reilly ‘79, and Cabinet Members Mr. Tom D’Armond ‘85, Mr. Michael Ferachi, Mr. Gordon LeBlanc ‘78, and Mr. Ty McMains ‘84 for the campaign’s fundraising success thus far.
Additionally, Mrs. Candy and Dr. Robert Be were welcomed as the newest members of The Round Table Associates. Director of Advancement Mr. Andy Spencer, Director of Annual Giving and Stewardship Mrs. Katie Thompson, Athletic Director Mr. Randy Richard, Science Department Chair Mrs. Sarah Pulliam, and Capital Campaign Director Mellie Bailey ‘96, shared their visions for the future and their gratitude for the many exciting ways that Episcopal is thriving because of the School’s generous donors.
Advancement Team Welcomes New Staff Member
The eFund Thank You!
We are extremely proud to share that Episcopal's faculty and staff, Board of Trustees and The eFund committee have reached 100% participation! They urge you to join them with your own gift or pledge, today. Please use the link below to make your commitment.
I write at the end of a weekend spent recovering from and contemplating the highs and lows of this year's 8th grade trip to the Mo Ranch Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) in the hill country of Texas. Upon arriving home close to midnight on Thursday evening, I found that beyond the fatigue I was feeling from a week of physical activity and the long bus ride back to Baton Rouge, I also experienced a sense of both relief and gratitude for another successful experience at Mo. Having released our students to their parents, who enthusiastically welcomed them home; responsibility for almost ninety students had shifted back to their families. Certainly, I was grateful to be free from that weighty load, but more than that, I was and continue to be thankful for the opportunities the trip provided for our students and the ways that I can sense that they have grown as a result.
In our middle school, the progression for grade-level travel begins in sixth grade through two day-long experiences, a friendship retreat in the early fall and a service learning day in the spring. In seventh grade, our students travel for three days to a large southern city (most recently Atlanta) to experience activities with both curricular connections and opportunities for fun and fellowship. The 8th grade Mo Ranch ELP experience is the culmination trip, a chance for students to experience even greater independence through a longer stay away from home.
All three trips require students to practice self-control and cooperation, to demonstrate good manners and behavior as they interact with bus drivers, venue docents, service personnel, and instructors who are not their regular teachers. Additionally, time away from school with their friends and classmates stretches our students’ capacity for patience, tolerance, and empathy in ways that benefit them individually and as a class. The time also provides the students with opportunities for both self-awareness and discovering more about their classmates and teachers. This social and emotional learning helps to solidify class identity and bonds of friendship, an added benefit for our school community as students prepare for the demands of upper school.
After more than three decades of experience with school trips, it seems reasonable to assume that traveling with middle school students would become routine and monotonous for me. The reality is that I still learn much that is valuable from these experiences, both about myself and about my colleagues and our spirited, multi-talented students. Undoubtedly, our travel experiences are demanding for all involved, but unquestionably, they are worth it, and we will continue to make them happen for our middle schoolers.
Lucy Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Millsaps College and a M.Ed. degree from Louisiana State University in school counseling. Additionally she maintains credentials as a Licensed Professional Counselor. After one year of teaching in the East Baton Rouge Parish School system, she joined Episcopal’s high school faculty in 1979. She has served Episcopal in a variety of capacities: high school English teacher, Upper School Counselor, Upper School Division Head, middle school English teacher, School Counselor, and her current role, Middle School Division Head. Throughout her tenure of leadership in the Middle School, she has taught sixth grade religion. She is the proud parent of two Episcopal alumni.
Bullying behaviors have received a lot of publicity in recent years, and for good reason. There have been laws passed against bullying, which can hold parents, children, and school systems accountable for a child’s aggressive acts. This is motivated by findings that repetitive aggressive actions can cause significant emotional distress, depression, trauma symptoms, and suicidal thoughts. Parents have fears that their child may be a victim or aggressor in a bullying situation and often feel ill-equipped to address the outcomes. However, parents and schools can partner to increase knowledge about bullying and lead prevention efforts in their home and school community.
An important first step in prevention is helping students understand what bullying is. Episcopal Middle School students are taught the acronym RIP to define bullying - unwanted, aggressive behavior that is Repetitive, Intentionally harmful, and involves an imbalance of Power, such as size, age, or social status. Bullying behaviors can take several forms, including:
How can we tell if a child is the victim of bullying? How do we distinguish typical adolescent “moodiness” and a desire for independence from something more serious? Below are some warning signs that your child may be experiencing bullying:
Below are some suggestions for supporting your child as he or she navigates their social world. Remember that while our older children may appear as if they have everything under control and don’t want our support, the truth is that they often are MORE in need as they get older.
friendship retreat, service learning experiences, and class field trips. In our Upper School, student vestry members speak in chapel on topics such as inclusivity and building community. Advisory lessons about choosing kindness, effective communication, and being an upstander continue in high school at a developmentally appropriate level.
Bullying is not a rite of passage and should not be viewed as a normal part of childhood. At Episcopal, we’d like to partner with parents and students to keep our school a safe and healthy community where all are welcome.
has served as a School Counselor at Episcopal since 2001. As the Middle School Counselor, she has a passion for helping pre-adolescents reach their potential, academically, emotionally, and spiritually. Alicia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Master’s in Health Sciences- Rehabilitation Counseling, and is a Certified School Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor.