In sports there are stats, records and titles to defend. There is sweat, tears and blood that runs in team hues. Episcopal athletes are quite familiar with the hard work and dedication it takes to earn those titles and push the body beyond expectations. Soon the Knights will have a new athletic field house to celebrate the school’s scholar/athlete success. The Episcopal coaching staff is eager to go to work in the new facility, including head baseball and football coach Travis Bourgeois.
For more than two decades now, Coach Bourgeois has been a critical component of the Episcopal athletics family and he wouldn’t want it any other way. He has the most wins of any coach in Episcopal football history, taking teams to district championships and the state semifinals. But that’s not all. After coaching girls’ basketball for 15 years, including two final four appearances, Coach Bourgeois took over as head baseball coach in 2015. In just a few short years, his baseball teams have also earned district titles and made trips to the state quarterfinals.
Competition is in Bourgeois’ blood. He grew up the youngest of three boys in a family in which everyone played sports. “We always competed. I knew I was going to lose, but I wanted to play,” he says of competing with his older brothers. Coach Bourgeois’ first coach was his dad, who worked long hours but still made time for little league, pee wee football or whatever sport was in season. By the time Bourgeois was in high school at Donaldsonville’s Ascension Catholic, he played football, basketball, baseball and ran cross country and track. With such a wide range of athletic abilities, he actually didn’t have a favorite sport. “When it was that sport, I was all in.”
It was baseball that provided Bourgeois and his brother Troy the opportunity to go to college in Kansas. Coach Bourgeois packed up a shaker of Tony Chachere’s and joined Troy to play for Pratt Community College. Bourgeois appreciates the opportunity he had to venture out on his own and says the experience taught him to grow up and to wash his own clothes. He also developed a greater appreciation for home and family meals. With a family tree filled with coaches and a long history in sports, Bourgeois knew what he wanted to do. “I respected my coaches,” he says. “I knew I wanted to get into coaching.” At Pratt, Bourgeois earned Academic All-American honors. He served as the student government vice president and spoke as the student speaker at graduation along with Bob Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996. After graduating from Pratt, Bourgeois enrolled at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. At UAB, he continued his previous success, earning Academic All American team honors in baseball, the Kinesiology Award and Academic All-Conference recognition. After finishing his degree, it was time to return home.
Bourgeois married his high school sweetheart, Sheila. The two had known each other since freshman year and started dating as seniors. Bourgeois, the outspoken coach and Sheila, the elementary school librarian, have been together through it all. “She’s the calm to my storm,” says Bourgeois.
Upon returning home, Bourgeois also got a job working for his old high school coach Steve Baronich. That job was with the Episcopal Knights as a PE teacher and assistant football coach. Bourgeois says initially he wasn’t sure about signing on with the Knights, after all he’d played against them while at Ascension Catholic. But, the job was an opportunity to learn under the man he admired. Now, 24 years later Bourgeois is still here, having come to embrace the Knights and the community he calls home.
Coach Bourgeois is consistent. He’s been married 23 years. He’s been at Episcopal 24 years. He hasn’t missed a College World Series in Omaha in 20 years. He even runs three miles a day, six days a week. Part of his secret to success is his ability to treat others as he would want to be treated. He says he learned this after a brief stint as a construction worker one summer during college. He saw what it was like to do a job solely for money and he knew he wanted more. As a coach, Bourgeois also draws on his experience as a parent to treat students fairly. Bourgeois and Sheila have three daughters – recent Episcopal graduate Bailey ’18, sophomore Annslee and sixth grader Elaine.
Coach Bourgeois is looking forward to the next chapter of Episcopal athletics, including the new athletic field house. “It symbolizes health,” he says of the multi-use facility that will be used for physical education, strength training and interscholastic sports. He says the openness of the design will provide a “welcome feeling for non-athletes who want to take care of themselves” as well as the athletes who are preparing to compete. He hopes students will appreciate the facility and the commitment to health and wellness that it represents. He is also hopeful that the field house instills a stronger sense of school pride among students who find themselves wanting to be more involved.
Bourgeois has been a Knight long enough that his next chapter at Episcopal also includes coaching the children of former students or even working alongside former athletes. Bourgeois was at the helm of the girls’ basketball team when a young Taylor Mims and her teammates went to the final four and he is proud to see how Taylor has grown to become the head basketball coach she is today. He also enjoys sharing coaching duties with former athletes and Episcopal alumni Cody Day ‘15, Charlie O’Brien ‘13 and Jimmy Williams ’97. Such an experience shows that his coaching career has truly come full circle. Coach Bourgeois enjoys being around students and seeing how they develop over the years. He says no matter how much the times change he still strives to instill the lessons he’s learned over the years because that never changes. Continuity, consistency, teamwork and drive are as important today as they were when he first became a member of the Episcopal family so long ago.
We look forward to seeing how this next chapter unfolds. As construction progresses on the new field house there is a sense of anticipation and excitement, similar to that feeling before the start of a new sports season. Don’t miss your opportunity to be a part of the action. Click here to learn more about the giving opportunities still available. What a great opportunity to honor a beloved coach, successful alumni or favorite Knight. Go Knights!
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District titles and playoff wins could not happen without the support and commitment of many, including the Episcopal Squires Club. This service organization supports the school’s entire athletic program, providing the extra support that helps make participation in Episcopal athletics an even more rewarding experience for student athletes.
Over the years, Squires members have done it all. The organization financially supports the coaches’ wish list, which has included items such as a sled for the football team, soccer goals and nets, drum corps equipment and batting helmets. But the wish list is only the beginning.
Years ago when Episcopal first established a baseball program, Squires members rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Members helped build the field, moving dirt and hammering nails. Members also built dugouts for the softball team and raised the original concession stand. “Whatever needs to be done – you organize and do it,” says longtime Squires dad Kelly Root. Root and his wife Stacy have been involved with Squires since 2009 when their oldest daughter began attending Episcopal. Root says the Episcopal Diocese stresses the importance of giving of your time and talent and Squires was the right opportunity for the Roots to do this. “It’s a family affair for us,” says Stacy, who says the experience has allowed her to get to know other Episcopal families.
Lower School religion teacher and Squires faculty liaison Laura Portwood shares the Roots enthusiasm for Squires. Portwood first became involved with the organization in 2006 because she wanted to be a part of what her children were doing. Both the Roots and Portwood stress that Squires is for all Episcopal sports and all athletes.
Another important role of Squires is promoting and building school and team spirit. What better way to do this, than with food? Kelly Root says Squires members cook special team meals and even host tailgating events for the entire Episcopal community. Squires has also sponsored bus trips to ensure the Knights Nation can travel with the teams for playoff action across the state. All of this is in an effort to promote school spirit and the athletes giving their all in competition. “There’s something an athlete feels and feeds off of when they know someone’s behind them,” says Portwood.
Squires is now evolving. Kelly Root says the organization is getting more involved in capital projects, which will make Squires even more valuable to the school. Expect to see a significant Squires presence in the new athletic field house, which is under construction now. Root says this type of involvement will allow the organization to have a more physical and long-term contribution to Episcopal.
“Squires is a representation of how parents and coaches can work together to give our student athletes the best opportunities to succeed,” says former Athletic Director Myra Mansur. Episcopal athletics has experienced tremendous success over the years, thanks in part to the partnership of the school’s coaching staff and the supportive members of Squires. The support of the Episcopal community makes it possible for student athletes to successfully compete in multiple sports, while also excelling in the classroom. As long as there continues to be a Squire behind every Knight, that legacy of excellence with endure.
Want to get involved with Episcopal athletics? Click here to learn more about Squires.
Did you know that members of Squires receive free admission to all Episcopal home games? To receive this benefit and others, become a Squires member by registering here.
"You just gotta' go for it."
In August of 2002, the star of the American Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and the Washington Redskins was Class of 1997 Episcopal graduate and current Assistant Athletic Director Jimmy Williams. During the matchup, which took place 7,002 miles from Baton Rouge, Williams batted away a pass, forced an incompletion and even sacked Redskins quarterback Danny Wuerffel. Williams had a great game at cornerback that day, but there was much more to the magic than simply pressuring the offense.
“If you want to win, do the ordinary things better than anyone else does them day in and day out.” Chuck Noll, Head Coach Pittsburgh Steelers (1969-91)
While Williams was only a freshman, he was wise enough to recognize that he wanted more out of life than what he saw others settling for. With both parents working long hours he also knew he needed to fill that space between the last bell of class and the time they arrived home. So Williams went for it and explored all the options available to him at Episcopal. Not only did he play football, baseball, basketball and track, but he was also in select choir, theater, ROTC and even Japanese Club. It was his unlikely interest in and skill with the Japanese language that would make him the star of the game just a few years after graduating from Episcopal. Williams was among a group of Baton Rouge students selected to participate in a six week Japanese exchange program during the summer of 1996. While there, the students stayed with several host families and were immersed in the culture. They even attended school with Japanese students. “I got to see a whole different side of the world,” says Williams, and this was only the beginning.
When Williams returned to Episcopal for his senior season, he was heavily recruited by the likes of Steve Spurrier, Urban Meyer, LSU and even the Toronto Blue Jays. But it was Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee that caught Williams’ attention. “I like Nashville and they stressed academics,” he says. With a full scholarship to one of the top academic institutions in the SEC, Williams earned his degree in human and organizational development with a minor in health and human services. He continued to excel on the football field as a Commodore, being named to the Freshman All-SEC team for his contributions as a running back and later earning All-SEC team honors for his role as a cornerback. In fact, he was so successful that he could have declared for the NFL draft early, but Williams elected to finish his degree.
“Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.” Vince Lombardi - Head Coach Green Bay Packers
In 2001, Williams was drafted by the Buffalo Bills. After a brief pre-season stint with the Bills, he got a call from his old Vanderbilt roommate, who was playing with the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers were interested in Williams and wanted him to come to California. In his signature style of going for it, Williams embraced the opportunity and signed on with the team’s practice squad. He remembers arriving at Soldier Field for the matchup against the Bears thinking he wasn’t going to play. Unexpectedly, the coach brought Williams in and said he would, in fact, see playing time and they were actually signing him to the active squad that very morning. After the ink dried on the contract, Williams made his way to the team locker room. Inside he found a jersey with his name emblazoned upon it and it was the best feeling ever.
As a member of the 49ers, Williams made the trip to Osaka, Japan for that American Bowl in 2002. The NFL learned of Williams’ previous high school exchange trip to the city and arranged for all of Williams’ host family members to attend the game. He says they made signs and cheered. He was the star of the game. Williams was named a captain for the team that day and even called the coin toss in Japanese before kickoff. “It was all because of a class at Episcopal,” he says looking back on the experience.
Williams would go on to play for the Seattle Seahawks, the New Orleans Saints and the Houston Texans. He remembers the Seahawks experience fondly. “Nobody cared who scored as long as we scored,” he says of the camaraderie and team cohesion that existed. Williams signed with the team not long after Hurricane Katrina ravaged his home state and he says his teammates immediately began offering help and support. That teamwork and spirit of brotherhood eventually earned the squad a trip to Super Bowl XL in 2005.
“The most valuable player is the one that makes the most players valuable.”
Playing sports has always been about more than wins and losses for Williams. He simply always wanted to be a part of the team. “Once you realize how to be a good teammate playing time takes care of itself,” he says. Looking back on high school, he remembers the bus rides to and from competitions and the shared team meals. He remembers the feeling of family and the importance of the coach within that structure. “Coaches are family,” he says.
Now in 2019, Williams is happy to be a part of the Episcopal family and for the opportunity to support and guide students at his alma mater. He wants students to go for it the way he did when it comes to trying new things. “Get outside of your comfort zone more. True character gets revealed when you’re in an uncomfortable situation,” he says. That is certainly reflective of how Williams has lived his life. When he became an Episcopal ninth grader he was the only African American student in his class. While the situation could have been uncomfortable, he went for it with courage and determination and says it actually helped him learn more about himself.
Williams’ son Ace is now at his dad’s alma mater. Unlike Williams, Ace became an Episcopal Knight at three years old. Williams hopes his son takes full advantage of the variety of opportunities available to him. As for himself, Williams is taking advantage of the opportunity to focus on his wife, Chandra. With a nomadic football life, the two never had the opportunity to travel for leisure, there was no official honeymoon and there were no free summers. He says his goal now is to support Chandra in the same manner she supported him through the ups and downs of a NFL career. He says he’ll also have his hands full keeping up with young Ace.
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After this week’s cold snap, winter is definitely here. Episcopal’s winter sports are heating up just in time to fight the chill with numerous district title opportunities on the horizon. Here’s a look at the outstanding season so far.
Don’t miss your chance to catch the team in action on the following dates:
Friday, February 1st at 6:30 pm versus Vermilion Catholic on the road
Monday, February 4th at 6:00 pm versus Family Christian Academy on the road
Saturday, February 7th - District tournament
Don’t miss Senior Knight on Tuesday, February 12th. Borskey, Garrido, Harrison and Jemison, along with student manager Bryce DeBourg will be recognized.
As the number one seed in the district, the girls team has had a tremendous season. Last Friday, the squad beat rival Dunham during a PINK KNIGHT overtime. The Knights were down by ten with five minutes left in the game and fought back to force the overtime in which they came up victorious. This week Episcopal is hosting the district tournament, giving the Knights home court advantage and a first round bye. Look for senior standouts Anna Scot Hixon and Savannah Hofman to finish their final season strong.
Don’t miss the upcoming hoops action:
Tonight versus Dunham in the second round of the District Tournament at Episcopal
Thursday, February 7th at 6:00 pm versus False River at home for SENIOR KNIGHT
DISTRICT CHAMPS! The boys’ soccer team has kicked their way to a division title this season. Look for senior leaders Raymond Gould, Jack Morganti, Eliott Reimann and Garret Spring to guide the team through the playoffs which got underway this week. Episcopal has a bye the first round and home field advantage once play begins.
Congratulations to Eliott Reimann who was selected as a member of the Louisiana High School Coaches Association East West All Star game.
DISTRICT CHAMPS! The girls’ team kicked it into high gear this season with a district championship of their own. The girls enter the playoffs for the first time in at least three years. Look for strong play in the final stretch from the team as they travel to Harvey, LA tonight in the first round versus Patrick Taylor Math and Science Academy.
Indoor Track & Field
The Knights will be in action tomorrow at the LSU Last Chance indoor meet. After that, it’s on to the indoor state meet at LSU’s Carl Maddox Field House on Saturday, February 16th.
The powerlifters are training for regionals on February 22nd and 23rd for a chance to qualify for the state meet in Alexandria in mid-March. The team had a strong showing at the Panther Invitational last weekend and hopes to build on those performances for state.
This year’s wrestling squad is led by Episcopal graduate Charlie O’Brien. Seniors Thomas Hugenroth, Taner Morgan and Graham Perkins are looking to finish strong in their final year. The Knights had to Dutchtown tomorrow for another chance to hone their skills before the state tournament later this month.
Congratulations to the 8th grade girls basketball team! The girls finished second in their division last night. Go Knights!
Field House Update
Construction is underway on the new athletic field house! The multi-use facility will be used for physical education, strength training and interscholastic sports.
Learn more about this exciting development at https://www.spiritmindbodybr.org/rationale2.html.
Hall of Fame Nominations
Please take a moment to recognize an Episcopal athlete for their continued success after leaving high school by nominating them for the Athletic Hall of Fame. Nominating someone is quick and easy. Simply click this link and complete the form.
Randy Richard is in his third year as Athletic Director at Episcopal School of Baton Rouge. He is from Baton Rouge and attended Catholic High School prior to earning a four year athletic scholarship and a degree in education from Louisiana Tech University. Since joining Episcopal in 2002, Randy has served in many capacities including Dean of Students, the Physical Education Department Chair, teacher, and coach for a variety of boy’s and girl’s Upper School athletic teams.
On Saturday, January 26th Episcopal placed 2nd in Division 1 at the Baton Rouge High Mu Alpha Theta math tournament. There were 142 students from six high schools and three middle schools in Division 1. Episcopal brought 37 middle and upper school students to compete in subjects from Algebra 1 to Calculus BC.
1st – Joie Lee
Honorable Mention – Sacha Dernoncourt
Honorable Mention – Carter McLean
1st – Joy Lee
1st – Abhay Basireddy
3rd – Arya Patel
1st Algebra 1 Team – Autumn Reynolds, Ivy Jiang, Hayden Singh, Joie Lee
2nd Comprehensive Math 1 – Carter McLean, Suzie Heneghan, Akshay Basireddy
1st Comprehensive Math 1.5 – Nils Dernoncourt, Eugene Jiang, Joy Lee
1st Calculus A Team – Clay Burton and Lara Rende
1st Pre-Calculus Math Bowl – Abhay Basireddy, Justin Dynes, KC Shimada, James Christian
3rd Upper Interschool
A government that reads its citizens’ emails, tracks its citizens’ movements, and listens to conversations of citizens in their homes was once the subject of science fiction novels. That such a society would exist in the democracy of America that was founded on principles of freedom and natural rights was unimaginable. But recent developments in technology that is in the hands of most Americans on a daily basis have made almost constant surveillance readily available to the government and to large companies. The founding fathers of the United States could never have envisioned the issues created by modern technology and terrorism.
Mass surveillance is not high on the list of concerns for the average American. Most adults are more concerned with the highly politicized nature of the government, the government shutdown, or the next big election. Perhaps following Edward Snowden’s reveal of the vast extent of government surveillance, people became more aware of the ways it can be used unethically. But many Americans believe that if “I have nothing to hide, I have nothing to fear” and do not consider the possibility that the government may use mass surveillance to invade their personal privacy. Now more than ever, the discussion of surveillance needs to be happening in our homes.
When our country was formed, the founding fathers wrestled with balancing the rights of the people with the need for a strong central government. Their solution was to create an amendment to the Constitution that protected American citizens from government involvement in their lives. We know this today as the Fourth Amendment. While the right to privacy is not specifically set forth in the Constitution, it is inferred from the Fourth Amendment in combination with elements of the First, Third, and Fifth Amendments. Case law including Roe v. Wade, Katz v. United States, and Carpenter v. United States have also contributed to the development of the right to privacy.
How does this right relate to technology? Technology is a normal part of the daily lives of most Americans. Most of us have cell phones, and many of us use features on our phones that can be used to place us at a particular location at a certain time (i.e. Find my Friends or Snapchat’s Snapmaps feature). Similarly, GPS devices can be found in modern cars. Many people have laptops with webcams or use home assistant devices like Alexa or Google Home. Theoretically, the government can access those devices to obtain information about Americans through two important laws: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT Act).
FISA establishes the protocol for the surveillance of foreign intelligence suspected of espionage or terrorism when that person is located outside of the United States. The PATRIOT Act, passed just 45 days after 9/11, allows for surveillance of both foreign and domestic suspected terrorists. These laws give the government vast powers with the potential for widespread and unethical violations of the privacy rights of Americans because they allow for surveillance not only of suspected terrorists, but also of people with remote connections to suspected terrorists.
To comprehend the privacy debate, it is important to understand the reason the government needs to access information of its citizens. National security became a priority following 9/11 and the War on Terror. In order to protect its citizens, the government has the power to use technology to access certain communications for the purposes of stopping terrorist acts before they happen. One way the government does this is to surveil and collect communications of suspected terrorists by accessing their cell phone records, bank records, GPS location, emails, medical records, etc. Many Americans feel that such surveillance is acceptable if it could prevent another 9/11, a school shooting, or some other terrorist attack. While this point of view is certainly warranted, we must be careful to avoid the proverbial “slippery slope” that could lead to even more amplified government surveillance as has been seen in Big Brother-esque societies like China, Singapore, and India, and even in western cultures such as Great Britain, France, Switzerland, and Germany.
China has developed frighteningly invasive technology to monitor the actions of its citizens. They have recently created a new robotic Dove that has the capability to blend into the environment because it looks and acts exactly like a bird flying in the sky. These Doves are fitted with high definition cameras, GPS antennas, and a flight control system, and they are able to climb, dive, flap their wings, and turn in the air. Because they look like real birds, they are able to evade both human detection and radar. They can fly up to 25 miles per hour for 30 minutes. The Doves have been used to surveil the Chinese people in provinces known for displaying anti-Chinese sentiment. The Chinese also have new facial recognition technology that scans the public for criminals. Huge outdoor screens at busy intersections display lawbreakers, including those guilty of minor crimes such as jay-walking, and they even list the names and show the faces of those that have not paid their debts. Chinese law enforcement is testing a new sunglass surveillance program that uses technological glasses to pick individuals out of a crowd. If the face or information matches a suspected criminal, police seize the person then and there.
Based on information gained from surveillance, the Chinese government arrests people that are deemed to be a threat to the government, even if they are not suspected of committing a crime. They are able to get away with this extreme extension of government surveillance because it is under the guise of preventing Islamic extremism and terrorism, much like the rationale of the American government.
Alarmingly, surveillance laws and technology similar to those found in Asia and Europe have made their way to the United States. Amazon’s Rekognition program, which allows photos and videos to be uploaded to Amazon and compared to facial scans from a live camera feed, has been used by law enforcement in Orlando and Oregon. Rekognition can identify over 100 faces in a crowd by just comparing photos to the real feed. There are undoubtedly some benefits to these technologies, but they can easily be used to target minorities, immigrants, protesters, and other groups.
While in some cases surveillance is seemingly beneficial in that it can lead to the arrest of criminals, it is crucial to understand that the government can use surveillance for sinister purposes. It is also critical to consider the limitless power that the government could gain over its citizens through surveillance that could be used to thwart fundamental principles of American ideology. If the government can use its surveillance powers to stop evil such as terrorism, it can also use the same powers to commit evil. In its most basic form, such powers could easily allow for the regulation of speech or press, to deny rights based on race or religion, or to silence critics of the government. This is not so far-fetched an idea to imagine in the current political climate. Those that believe such a society could never exist in America need to think again. It is imperative to understand the balance required between the need for protection against foreign terrorist threats and the inherent right to privacy.
If you own a smartphone, a home assistant device, or a laptop, you could be the subject of surveillance. These devices can easily be accessed by the government and essentially used to follow your every move. While this is cause for concern for many privacy advocates, it is not realistic to expect modern Americans to give up their cell phones or go off the grid. But you should be aware — be aware of what you say in your home, be aware of what you type on your phone, and be aware of how you act around your technology — you never really know who is watching.
David Whitehurst is a senior in his seventh year at Episcopal and a graduate of St. James Episcopal Day School. He is a captain and varsity runner on the Episcopal cross country team and a state champion track athlete. David became interested in the Constitution and technology through his AP Government class, and his thesis evolved to focus primarily on the right to privacy. David is the owner of a smartphone, a laptop, and an Alexa device.
My parents used to monitor my video gaming pretty heavily. Every good parent worries about exposing their kids to violence too early. If a game had a drop of blood, I couldn’t play it until I was twelve. So I sweat bullets as I shot at aliens spewing green blood when I played “Halo 3” at a friend’s house when I was ten. But when I was twelve, I was allowed to play “Team Fortress 2,” a multiplayer game sporting gentle violence - little enough to pass their test while entertaining my increasingly maturing interest. My parents’ focus was on the modest violence, but something far more dangerous slipped under their radar: the economic side.
In a time where people have an increasingly high digital presence from a young age, many children seek knowledge online, usually starting with math and spelling games. But many, like my young nerdy friends and I, progress to more complex lessons, whether knowingly or not. Often parents and/or schools teach children the value of money in a straightforward way. Whether through a chore system at home or some fake currency in exchange for privileges at school, a variety of controlled environments have been used to instill good economic habits in kids. They are physically handed money for their work, and they physically hand it back when they want to exchange it for something else. Children see that it is limited and represents a hard day’s work. However, due to a variety of institutions in video games like “Team Fortress 2” (TF2), “Counter Strike: Global Offensive” (CS:GO), “Fortnite” (the forbidden one), and many others, young gamers (especially those between the ages of 12-16) learn from distorted systems that ultimately harm their understanding of the economy and teach poor economic habits.
The most apparent layer of deception that often leads kids and adults alike down the rabbit hole of frivolous spending is a phenomenon called “invisible money.” Kids observe this phenomenon every time they go to the store and see their parent swipe their credit card to pay for groceries. Similarly, when money is used to in TF2, in the same way that many kids find it difficult to equate a piece of plastic with actual money, the tradable flashy cosmetic items in “Team Fortress 2” and “CS:GO” hold real monetary values, some ranging to thousands of dollars. Part of the economic crash in the early 2000s is attributable to the inability to identify credit cards and other online transactions as physical exchanges of currencies. Not even adults are immune to this phenomenon, and kids certainly are no exception when money goes even further from its true form, from credit card to virtual cosmetic.
Across various games and formats, fostering positive economic morality of young gamers is also in question. Though the numbers for this are a bit more ambiguous, scamming other players for their hard-earned loot in the name of making a quick buck is far too common. The community of traders in TF2 is more of a cutthroat bazaar of individuals, each trying to trick each other for profit than a supportive community enjoying the game. A far more tangible phenomenon is outright gambling in several games. The mechanisms mimic those of slot machines, reward players rarely (similar to casinos), and potentially instill the same addictive habits. The odds of children becoming frivolous spenders from playing these games are certainly higher than them becoming violent maniacs. It’s easy to look at the surface of any game with a “T for teen” or higher rating and determine its appropriateness based on the amount of blood. It’s hard to look past what’s highlighted by the media and consider the gentler, arguably more harmful aspect of these games. Any way you cut it, video games rarely foster the knowledge and positive economic habits that people need before they merge into the workforce and grow up. The best thing society and parents can do is teach children in a safe, straightforward environment how the world really works so that they don’t learn it from a parallel yet severely distorted one online, like I did.
Taner Morgan is a senior at Episcopal and came from St. Luke’s as a freshman. He’s been playing video games like the ones discussed here and just about anything on the market since he was five, and they’ve influenced how he approaches the world, for better or for worse. In the case of shaping his economic habits, maybe for worse, as his thesis research follows. Taner is the captain of the wrestling team and has been wrestling for three years. He is also a part of the drum corps and co-president of film club. Taner plans to attend LSU Honors College and study mass communication.
Knights on 3! Knights on 3! 1-2-3! KNIGHTS!
This cheer, commonly used by Upper School athletes, has been used by a large group of enthusiastic, spirited and extremely talented Middle School soccer players this year. The Episcopal Middle School girls and boys Navy teams are both in the Baton Rouge Soccer Club’s Middle School Division I finals! Don’t miss your opportunity to cheer the teams on this weekend.
Girls Navy team - Sunday, January 27th at 5 pm on Burbank soccer field 22
Boys Navy team – Sunday, January 27th at 1 pm on Burbank soccer field 20
The Episcopal girls are undefeated so far this year. In fact, Coach James Moroney says the team’s defense is so strong that they have only allowed one goal over the course of the seven games played. He says he has been impressed with the hard work and maturity exhibited by the players. “They deserve a lot of credit for their success,” he says. “There’s not a lot of quit in them. They have put in a lot of effort to get wins.”
Coach Moroney says when the call came out for Middle School soccer players, 46 girls expressed interest. With such passion and strong talent, Episcopal was able to field two teams. The Navy and Gold teams are comprised of sixth, seventh and eighth graders competing together in a fun atmosphere. While Moroney has coached the Navy team in addition to his role as a math teacher, the Gold team has been led by Taylor Rosson. Moroney says his goal for athletes on both teams is that they improve their game, grow in their understanding of the sport, learn teamwork and enjoy the experience. The Navy team’s winning season has been an added bonus.
The Episcopal boys squad has enjoyed similar success. The Navy team is slated to play in the tournament final with a record of 3 and 3. Coach Jeff McLean says the sixth, seventh and eighth graders have unbelievable talent in soccer, as well as other sports, including football and cross country. While McLean has led the Navy team, Ben Westra has served as coach of the Gold team. Coach McLean, who also teaches Upper School science, says he thinks the experience has helped students develop a sense of school spirit and camaraderie as they come together and wear an Episcopal jersey for the first time as a team.
Both Moroney and McLean look forward to seeing how the Middle School athletes grow and develop as Upper School athletes. “I expect the high school teams to be really competitive in the district with the girls who are coming up,” says Moroney of his Navy squad. “Some of the stuff we do prepares them for the routine of high school practice,” says McLean of the transition athletes make between Middle and Upper School. The talent on the teams has certainly not gone unnoticed by the Upper School athletic staff.
“We’re thrilled to see our boys and girls Navy teams competing for the DI championship in the BRSC Middle School Soccer League,” says Athletic Director Randy Richard. “We have some extremely talented soccer players in our middle school, something that our varsity coaching staff has been aware of through teaching and coaching these students in PE. It excites all of us to see and hear the excitement of each of these players as they compete to win against other schools in the city.”
Both Middle School teams have enjoyed tremendous support this season, with four coaches and an entire division behind them. Richard says the support from coaches McLean and Moroney has been exceptional. “These two gentlemen stepped in this year as middle school soccer coaches and have poured their heart and soul into their teams,” he says. “Having Episcopal Faculty and Staff coaching Episcopal students makes a huge difference on these teams.”
Both coaches, who are in their first year on staff at Episcopal, say the experience has been a rewarding way to get more involved at Episcopal. “I like interacting with the kids outside of school. You see a different side of students. They are respectful, good athletes,” says Coach McLean. Coach Moroney says as a high school soccer player himself he enjoys being involved with the team now. “I like working with the students and helping them have fun with it,” he says. This weekend’s run at dual championships should certainly be fun.
Good luck Middle School soccer players!
Do you love Middle School sports? Click here to check out the division’s athletics calendar.
According to a New York Life Foundation survey, nearly 70% of teachers have at least one grieving student in their classroom. The survey, which was conducted in conjunction with the American Federation of Teachers, also shows that on average teachers interact with eight grieving students each school year.
In keeping with a whole child educational philosophy, members of the Episcopal faculty seek to support and assist students in all aspects of life, including loss. Recently, the school earned the Grief-Sensitive School designation through New York Life’s Grief-Sensitive Schools Initiative. Initiative organizers seek to prepare teachers to support grieving students by providing access to teacher resources and training opportunities. To earn the designation, Episcopal Middle School teachers participated in a training in which they were introduced to the information available to them as a participating school. Middle School counselor Alicia Kelly says the training was a helpful refresher on empathy and compassion. “The training we received was a valuable reminder of the ongoing struggles our students may deal with, related to loss,” says Kelly. “Every child we teach is dealing with things that we cannot see. Being aware and sensitive to our children’s family lives helps us connect with them, and support the whole child, leading to better educational outcomes.”
Kelly says teachers now have access to resources to help them better communicate and understand students who have experienced a significant loss. She says offering the training during a Middle School staff meeting so that the entire division could attend highlights the school’s commitment to supporting students and families. In addition she says because of Episcopal’s small size, teachers and staff have the ability to reach out to families one-on-one to rally around them and offer meaningful support.
The Episcopal community is known for providing a strong support system. School counselors Alicia Kelly, Sara LeBlanc, Jodi Manton, and Robin Talamo work with students in each division in age-appropriate ways. Faculty and staff also offer a range of services for students and families, including the following:
As part of the Grief-Sensitive School designation, Episcopal received a $500 grant to support additional resources. The grant allowed the Episcopal school counselors to host a viewing of the documentary Screenagers, which explores the pressures and realities that today’s students face in a digital world. The documentary was shown this week to students and families. For more tips on dealing with children and technology, read this post by Upper School Counselor Jodi Manton.
I’m Rex Bigfoot and I talk to dinosaurs.
This was the premise for a story recently imagined by award-winning author James Ponti and Episcopal fourth and fifth graders. Ponti, whose children’s mystery series FRAMED! earned the Edgar Award, conducted a writing workshop with Lower and Middle School students. He led the young writers through the creative process for choosing the main character, setting and problem of a story. Students were engaged and eager to share their thoughts on the adventures of Rex and his dinosaur friends.
Episcopal students frequently have the opportunity to interact with national experts. Such an experience enhances the lessons learned on campus and inspires students to think beyond Woodland Ridge. “Over the past few years, we’ve had several opportunities for our students at Episcopal to interact with and learn from authors,” says Library Director Tiffany Whitehead. “When students are able to connect with the people who write the books they read and love, it makes the experience all the more memorable. The importance of reading and the value of the writing process are always common themes in author presentations, and having those ideas reinforced in a meaningful way is powerful for our students.”
Lower School Librarian Catherine Word was thrilled to share such an opportunity with students. “What impacted me the most about Mr. Ponti’s visit, and what I hope the students were able to take away is how reading opens up different worlds,” says Word. “Mr. Ponti’s love of books and reading was inspiring.”
In addition to conducting writing workshops, Ponti also spoke to students about his personal journey to becoming a writer. He shared that as a young child, he was not an avid reader and didn’t develop a passion for books until later on. Ponti began his career as a screenwriter for Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and PBS. He later began writing novels with the hope of inspiring an interest in reading among young people. Ponti has succeeded in this goal with mystery novels that are popular among students and adults.
While at Episcopal, Ponti’s message for students was captivating and entertaining for all ages. Students and teachers laughed loudly as he shared his personal childhood tales. Ponti was also generous with positive feedback for students as he led the writing workshops. “You’re the only one who can write the stories you write,” he said.
At the end of the discussion, Ponti reflected on the impact of teachers on his life. He told the story of how one teacher’s compliment inspired him to become a writer. “One day can change everything and make your life magic,” he said. He reminded students to thank their teachers and show appreciation for the educators who provide them with the skills to succeed. The VPAC resonated with applause. Who knows where Episcopal students will use their skills. The next great novelist may just be among them!
For more on the James Ponti visit, check out Library Director Tiffany Whitehead's post here.