Episcopal senior Douglas Robins knows what it is like to make the transition to a new school. Now, after six successful years on campus he has advice for new students to help them become a part of the Episcopal community with ease. Read more from Douglas below.
Dear new friends--
Congratulations on getting your first week under your belt at the E. You’ve met all your teachers, met some new people, and after signing the Honor Code, you are officially a Knight. By this point, you should start to get a better feel for what it is going to be like on campus from here on out. Now I know that just because you have had one week down, you are by no means an expert and I also know that transitioning in can take some time. As someone who had his last first day of high school last week (I know, it still hasn’t set in) after six years at this school, I have some tips to help you navigate that will take you beyond the first week.
#2 Don’t be afraid to try new things
Part of what makes Episcopal so special is all of the diverse extracurricular options that are available. As you walk around campus, you will see this universal enthusiasm that seems to have touched all of the students and everything that they do. In the spirit of transitioning into the community, allow yourself to get swept away by the excitement of trying out some extracurriculars that you may not have had the chance to do elsewhere. Maybe that means joining the Cross Country team, or auditioning for the play, dabbling in slam poetry or crafting with the Pinterest Club. Don’t limit yourself to just one activity, take advantage of being able to try them all and see what sticks. You may not end up loving everything that you try, but don’t sweat it because no one makes you do something you aren’t into. But I promise, that something will stick and it may be the most unlikely thing. Before I came to Episcopal, I never would have dreamed of being on a stage in a play and I didn’t even know what the Student Vestry was, but by trying new things, I felt that passion and made some of my best friends.
Douglas Robins is a senior in his sixth year at Episcopal. He is an engaged member of the Episcopal community as a Writing Fellow, Student Vestry member, President of the National Honors Society and a part of the Honors Thesis program. Douglas also is an active member of the performing arts community and enjoys the flexibility of being able to explore his academic interests and his diverse extracurricular interests all in one school day.
The Episcopal community was busy all summer long. Here are highlights from the break:
Head of School Hugh McIntosh shared Episcopal success stories and stats with his Academic Points series. Highlights of the series include:
We’re Number One!
According to the 2019 Best Schools in America rankings released by Niche, Episcopal is the top ranked private high school in the Baton Rouge area. The annual rankings are based on public data and student and parent reviews.
Knights in the News
Four seniors spent two weeks at pre-college musical theater intensives at three of the nation’s top musical theater schools. Maggie Ewing and Ethan Wax trained at the University of Hartford and Ethan Massengale attended an intensive at Florida State University. In addition, Kate Oliver received a scholarship to attend an intensive at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. Read the Advocate article here.
Senior Cruz Crawford was one of 1,000 attendees selected to the West Point Summer Leaders Experience (SLE) in June. More than 5,000 students nationwide applied to the SLE, which offers outstanding high school students the opportunity to experience life at West Point. The one-week seminars are designed to help juniors with their college selection process, while giving them an idea of the importance of leadership and sound decision-making in their education, careers and lives. Read the Advocate article here.
Senior Wilson Russ was one of two Louisiana Boys State attendees selected to represent the state at Boys Nation in Washington, D.C. Last school year, he also had the opportunity to serve as a Senate Page in the United States Senate. Read the Advocate article here.
This spring, sixth grader Sophia Macias, who is an avid golfer, launched her own non-profit - No Worries Just Birdies. Her goal is to raise funds to support local schools. This summer she successfully organized her first charity golf tournament and plans to host a basketball tournament next year. Read the Livingston Parish News article here.
Episcopal alumni are making a difference and taking on new adventures.
Class of 2016 graduate Emory Ellis spent her summer in the Harvard Forest through Harvard University as a part of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates. Emory, who is the daughter of Episcopal graduate Randi Simoneaux Ellis ʼ90, led an independent study on forest nutrients. Read more about Emory's experience here.
Class of 2018 graduate Jack Melton presented his honors thesis “Collective Resilience: Preparing Communities to Help Themselves in the Wake of a Large Scale Disaster” at the 2018 State of the Coast Conference. Melton was the only high school student to be invited to participate in the event, which features policy makers, environmental scientists, government agencies, economists and others working on issues regarding coastal restoration and protection. Read the Advocate article here.
Members of the Class of 2018 briefly returned to campus before departing for college. The former students participated in the annual yearbook signing celebration in the Alumni House.
Teachers and staff were busy with professional development. To prepare for a new school year, teachers participated in everything from responsive classroom training to AP Institute for Statistics training. School librarians Tiffany Whitehead and Catherine Word presented at the American Library Association conference and a contingent of staff went to Boston to learn more about NuVu.
Educator Ros Won was highlighted in Nat Damon’s book Time to Teach Time to Reach. In the book, Damon explores the impact of the teacher/student connection. He interviewed educators from across the country, including Ros who shared insights gained from her 17 years of teaching. You can read more about relational teaching and watch Ros’ student handshake video here.
Upper School students were on campus prepping for their future. Seniors participated in college admissions essay writing workshops. This year’s LAUNCH participants worked on first drafts as they gear up for February presentations. Look for more on LAUNCH throughout the year as we follow students through this exciting process.
Congratulations to Episcopal Cross Country Coach Claney Duplechin! Coach Dupe was named the 2018 National High School Athletic Coaches Association National Coach of the Year! Coach Dupe has had tremendous success as the Knights Cross Country Coach, leading his teams to 22 consecutive state titles. Throughout his career he has earned additional honors including Cross Country Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations and the Gill Athletics National Boys Track & Field Coach of the Year award. Read the Advocate article here.
The Knights participated in summer league play as they geared up for a new season of high school athletics. Despite the break, teams took part in camps and strength and conditioning workouts. You can read more here.
Summer camps kept students active, entertained and learning throughout the break. From sports camps to Lower School theme camps and Middle School study skills sessions, there was something for everyone.
With the snip of the scissors and a roar from the crowd, a longtime dream was realized with the opening of the new Academic Commons on August 10th. The Academic Commons is the first new academic building on Episcopal’s campus in more than a decade and now serves as the hub of Upper School math and science. The 27,000 square foot building features 17 classrooms, lab and project space, an engineering and robotics suite and an entrepreneurial studies center. In addition, the entrance of the facility showcases a courtyard-size periodic table.
“This building is part of the Episcopal School of Baton Rouge dream,” said Head of School Hugh McIntosh. He added that the dream is to provide students with a nationally competitive education led by great teachers in modern facilities, preparing them to be productive, adult citizens of Baton Rouge.
Recently, construction has been a sign of progress on Episcopal’s campus with the ongoing Spirit • Mind • Body Capital Campaign. Last fall, the newly renovated Lewis Memorial Chapel of the Good Shepherd was completed. School officials broke ground on the Academic Commons in May 2017 with the project remaining on track for the August 2018 opening. With the completion of the Academic Commons, Foster Hall will be converted into a Lower and Middle School innovative learning center. Attention now shifts to the next phase of construction with work on the new athletic field house underway. School officials and Lead Donors Todd ʼ90 and Gwen ʼ88 Graves broke ground on the field house in May and expect the project to be complete by the end of the school year.
“You are going to unlock wonders within these walls!” said Spirit • Mind • Body Campaign Co-Chair and Episcopal Board Member Sean Reilly ʼ79, addressing students at the Academic Commons ribbon cutting. Jennifer and Sean Reilly are Lead Donors for the Academic Commons. Sean Reilly and Todd Graves are Capital Campaign Co-Chairs. Also in attendance was Katheryn Flournoy, Board Chair and Campaign Cabinet Member. Before the ribbon was officially cut, the Academic Commons was blessed by the Rt. Rev’d Morris K. Thompson, Jr., Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. The Academic Commons was designed by Bobby Boudreaux and Crump Wilson Architects, and the general contractor was Cangelosi Ward General Contractors L.L.C.
A walk through the Academic Commons begins by strolling across the periodic table plaza in the courtyard. Upon entering the building, students and visitors will quickly notice the modern and sleek feel. Classroom spaces are designed to adjust to meet the needs of the students based on the current lesson. To foster collaboration and cooperation, furniture can be rearranged and seats can be easily moved. The glass-enclosed NuVu Episcopal Design Studio contains all of the equipment and supplies students need to create innovative solutions to everyday challenges. The multi-level facility also includes space for visiting lecturers and instructors.
August 10th was certainly not your average start to a new school year. Students returned to a facility, campus, and community that is sure to inspire them to achieve their dreams as the leaders of tomorrow. What a way to begin the 2018/2019 school year!
Research conducted by the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education shows the responsive classroom approach used by the Episcopal Lower School for more than 10 years now is linked to “higher academic achievement, improved teacher-student interactions and higher quality instruction.” According to information from the Center for Responsive Schools, Inc. the Curry School's three-year study also found that the responsive classroom approach to teaching is a predictor of gains in student math and reading achievement and that teachers’ use of the approach is associated with a classroom that is more emotionally supportive and organized.
Additional research from the Columbia University Teaching College also supports the responsive classroom approach. Center for Responsive Schools information shows that researchers evaluated the economic benefits of social-emotional learning (SEL) and found that improving SEL shows measurable benefits that exceed the costs.
What is the responsive classroom approach?
According to the Center for Responsive Schools, the approach “is a way of teaching that creates a safe, challenging, and joyful classroom and schoolwide climate for all students.” Basically, the responsive classroom approach is a classroom management philosophy that helps establish a community of empowered students who understand fully the expectations and behaviors required of them and the results of those expectations and behaviors.
Lower School teachers Renee Crousillac and Kelly Dorris have both received advanced training in the responsive classroom approach. “In my 28 years of teaching, I have never used such an amazing approach. It works! It eliminates a lot of behavior issues and allows for more meaningful teaching time,” says Crousillac. Dorris says the approach begins with the first bell on the first day of school. “Teachers take time to develop a sense of community at the beginning of the year so that at the end of the year the class is a well-oiled machine,” she says.
The responsive classroom approach empowers students. Dorris and Crousillac say at the beginning of the school year each child sets hopes and dreams that serve as academic and personal goals for the year. These goals are then used to establish the classroom rules and guidelines. Teachers also model and demonstrate the behaviors expected of students and use encouraging, positive language to remind students along the way. “Show me what a good listener looks like” and “remind me of how we are going to move to the cafeteria” are examples of the types of phrases commonly used.
The efforts put into establishing a classroom community early on, pay off in numerous ways throughout the year. Dorris says eventually teachers are able to work with small groups while other students work separately on projects of their choice without disturbing the room. “Everyone knows their purpose and what they’re doing in the room,” she says.
What can you expect from a responsive classroom community?
Students who are learning in a responsive classroom community greet each other daily as well as anyone who enters their room. In the video above, third grade teacher Amy Arceneaux leads a classroom morning meeting in which she shows students how to greet each other appropriately. In morning meetings students also share books and anecdotes and participate in a short daily activity centered on the theme of the first lesson. Responsive classroom teachers begin each day by posting a daily message for students to see upon entering the classroom. The message outlines what to expect from the day.
The responsive classroom approach has proven to be a perfect fit for Episcopal because of the school’s commitment to nurturing and developing the whole child- spiritually, intellectually, morally, physically and artistically. Dorris says the approach is also a great fit for project-based learning and experiential learning opportunities. In addition, the approach engages parents and families, including them in the classroom community and the larger campus culture as everyone works together with common goals and a commitment to learning.
The standards established in Lower School through this approach resonate throughout the Middle and Upper School divisions. “I am often proud of how Episcopal students communicate well with visitors to our campus- both adults and new students. Many are able to model appropriate eye contact, tone of voice, and instinctively know to greet a visiting adult or student with a handshake and welcome. Where does this come from? These skills are taught at a young age in our Lower School using the responsive classroom method,” says Middle School Counselor Alicia Kelly. Kelly says this type of learning continues in Middle School with a different name. “This summer, the Middle School teachers participated in a workshop on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) that will complement the positive work the Lower School is doing. This training will enhance and supplement a week-long training called ‘Developmental Designs’ that a portion of our current Middle School faculty attended several years ago. As educators, it’s not only our role to teach students our curriculum, but help them grow into productive young adults with purposeful lives. We are fortunate to work in a school that focuses on the whole child.”
This June, Episcopal hosted a responsive classroom training workshop that was attended by educators from across the country. New and returning Episcopal educators were able to take advantage of this professional development opportunity while connecting with teachers from other schools. Dorris says training a range of teachers in this approach helps keep the message consistent across the division so that students, families and teachers know what to expect regardless of their classroom assignment.
Choice. Trust. Community. These are words you may think of to describe a responsive classroom feeling. One benefit of having such a positive environment is that it means more time can be spent on learning, discovering and exploring the world. Such an environment sets a solid foundation for a range of academic possibilities that later express themselves in test scores, GPA’s and college acceptances.
Episcopal congratulates 2018 Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee April Brown ʼ95! April was named to the Hall of Fame at the annual sports banquet at the end of the school year. Hall of Fame honorees are selected each year based on their outstanding contributions to Episcopal during their time as a student or later on as a graduate.
April truly left her mark on Episcopal athletics, participating in basketball, volleyball, and track and field. She was the recipient of the Annslee Laura Phillips Female Athlete of the Year award and named the Advocate Athlete of the Year. In addition to lettering in multiple sports, April was a well-rounded student participating in activities including choir, French Club and Science Club. After graduation, she attended Division I DePaul University where she was a member of the women’s basketball team.
Nominations for the Episcopal Athletic Hall of Fame are accepted each spring. Previous honorees include Van Hiles ʼ93, Meghan O’Leary ʼ03 and Jimmy Williams ʼ97.
team. While at Episcopal, she was a member of the Spanish Honor Society, as well as a member of the Speech and Debate Team and the Student Council. She was a Writing Center tutor, an honors thesis student and active in numerous community service efforts.
We are #episcopalproud.
While the first bell of the 2018/2019 school year won’t officially ring until Friday, August 10th, there’s one group of students who are already gearing up for the new year. Episcopal athletes and coaches are in summer prep mode with summer league competition, team camps and sports camps.
Members of the baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and football teams are currently participating in city-wide summer league games with other area schools. Brenna Allphin-Smith Perez, Episcopal’s Head Girls Soccer Coach and Athletic Administrator, says summer league play is an especially great opportunity for incoming freshmen to get to know the team. She says coaches also encourage anyone interested in playing during the school year to play during the summer to get that extra preparation and exposure.
June is also traditionally when teams participate in team camps together. The boys basketball team recently spent time together at Birmingham Southern and the boys soccer team traveled to Southern Miss. Meanwhile, the girls soccer team trained at the Extreme Performance Team Camp in Bay St. Louis and the girls basketball team hosted a team camp at Episcopal. Team camps help athletes get to know their teammates and cultivate the relationships needed to succeed, in addition to boosting their overall skills.
Strength and conditioning work is a big part of summer sports prep. Students work out on campus three times a week throughout the break. In addition, on any given day you can find members of the Episcopal athletic staff on campus hosting summer sports camps for students of all ages. The camps are a great way to introduce students to a new sport or to help them fine tune existing skills.
While the start of a new school year may seem like a long time from now, student athletes will be suiting up and hitting the field, court, track and pool before you know it. We’re looking forward to another great year of Episcopal athletics!
Want to relive all of the best moments from the 2017/2018 season? Click here for a look back.
The Episcopal Writing Center is a special place. Fellows form lifelong bonds. In keeping with tradition, this year’s underclassmen wrote Senior Tributes highlighting the graduating fellows and the impact they’ve had on the program.
Major: Psychology and Education with a focus on Spanish
Elia Harper always walked into the Writing Center with an infectious smile -- be it a genuine, radiating smile or one plastered on to mask her stress. Despite all of the strain of a busy senior year, she still greeted every Writing Center client with a warm greeting and open mind. Elia loved being a Writing Fellow because it offered an opportunity for her to help students in the Episcopal community. She also greatly valued how students would open up to her through their creative writing assignments. Through her gregarious nature and unmatched social flexibility, Elia was able to collaborate with any student under any circumstances. Elia considers one of her most memorable appointments to be one with a student who was drafting a paper that was due at midnight that same day. The student was behind in a few classes and needed some ideas on where to begin his essay. More importantly that student needed to decompress, expressing his frustration and stress. Elia was empathetic and it meant a lot for her to be able to help that student when he most needed it. Through all of her experience in the Writing Center, Elia feels more connected to the high school community as she worked with students from each grade level. Going forward, Elia hopes that Writing Fellows remember why they joined the program: to assist others. In her words, “We’re all Writing Fellows to help other people. It’s such a rewarding experience to be the person that someone looks to when they need help. The feeling of being a person who people can always come to for guidance is unlike anything else.” Elia, next year your absence will impact the Writing Center community. Your bright personality and positive disposition will be greatly missed.
-- By Abby Johnson
Michael Lee joined the Writing Center only at the beginning of his senior year but still made quite the impact on the Episcopal community through his work as a Writing Fellow. Michael is not only passionate about writing but enjoys helping others, which makes him a great asset to the Writing Center and a very understanding and helpful person to work with. Michael most enjoys tutoring creative writing, blog posts, or pieces about subjects he doesn’t know much about, which makes his sessions a learning experience for him as well as the writer he is tutoring. He remembers one particular session as really making an impact on him in his time in the Writing Center and being the best session he had all year. During that particular session, he felt that he connected with the student personally and not just academically. The advice Michael would give to tutors or those considering becoming a part of the Writing Center is to make people look at writing as not a chore but something they can actually enjoy. He says, “If you can get this to happen, the school and the Writing Center will be better off.” Michael’s passion and enthusiasm for writing will surely be missed in the Writing Center, but hopefully during his time as a Writing Fellow, he has impacted the school and shown people how great writing can be.
-- By Macie Sentino
"Cozy, friendly, and passionate" are three words Wendy Wang uses to describe the Writing Center. Wendy has always loved to write, so when the email about becoming a Writing Fellow appeared in her inbox, applying for the program was an easy decision. It was also a bonus that she received service hours while doing something she is passionate about. Describing how the Writing Center was a part her years at Episcopal, Wendy said, "The Writing Center did play an important role in my high school experience. I love writing and enjoy being called a Writing Fellow. I made friends with my clients. I became more confident and discovered my passion." When I heard her response, I realized that discovering your passion is why Episcopal gives us all of these opportunities, such as joining the Writing Center. Her favorite spot in the Writing Center is the desk and chairs by the printer, at which she studies and does her tutoring sessions. Wendy especially remembers a session with a seventh grader's short story. The story was very intriguing, but it needed work with character development; helping that student was one of her most fun experiences in the Writing Center. Wendy loves creative writing, but she enjoys helping people with all kinds of writing. Her strengths as a Writing Fellow are many, but I would say her greatest strength is showing rather than telling her clients how to tweak their papers through her series of questions. Wendy's most memorable moment in the Writing Center took place when she was a Freshman. She had just come to the United States, her English was not very good, and she was shy. Her tutor was so friendly and encouraging, and she inspired Wendy to become a Writing Fellow. Through her time in the program, Wendy grew less shy and more confident and outgoing. Her parting advice to other Fellows is to remember that clients are their friends, so it never hurts to have a small conversation before the session.
-- By Sydney Summerville
Netflix premiered the second season of its controversial series 13 Reasons Why on Friday, May 18, 2018. As you may recall from our communication last spring, there are many concerns about tweens and teens watching this series. Considering the timing of this release, the potential for binge-watching and isolated viewing is more prevalent during the summer months.
Parents should become informed about the show’s content before deciding whether this show is appropriate for your child. The actors expressed that the show may not be right for everyone, especially if you are or have struggled with depression, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts. Additionally, Netflix has created a resources page with links to social/emotional supports, information about the show, and a discussion guide with tips for watching the show and ways to talk about the show with your child.
Below are some resources you may find useful. If at any time you or anyone you know shows signs of mental distress or suicide risk, you should contact emergency services and/or a mental health professional immediately. Your division counselor is also available to support students and their families.
Resources for Suicide Prevention and Intervention
The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness. – John Muir
Episcopal graduate Emory Ellis is making a difference in the world through her research of forests across the globe. After graduating in 2016, Emory began studying at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. This summer she is spending her time in the Harvard Forest through Harvard University as a part of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates. Emory, who is the daughter of Episcopal graduate Randi Simoneaux Ellis ʼ90, says the experience truly is an honor: