The final buzzer sounds, and the girls basketball team has done it again! The Knights are all smiles and the crowd roars their appreciation for a great team effort. This season, the Episcopal girls basketball team has earned wins against 5A schools Walker High and St. Joseph’s Academy. They’ve bested St. Michael and St. Scholastica. They have come together as a team and it’s exciting to watch.
Like most teams, this group of girls runs drills together, lifts weights together and spends hours practicing on the court. But it’s the behind the scenes focus on service that tells a bigger story. These athletes volunteered at a church youth camp and at the Shepherd’s Market Food Pantry gather the supplies they needed for their homes. For Christmas, the team wrapped gifts they donated to the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child program. They have even attended Episcopal Lower School girls basketball games where they cheered on the mini Knights with enthusiasm and spirit. Why would a group of high school students dedicate so many hours to service?
“God gave us the talent of athleticism,” says senior forward Sydney Summerville. “God allows us to play on the court as a team. Service is our way to thank Him for that.”
This is a powerful reminder of why service is as much a part of life at Episcopal as academics, arts and athletics. Service examples can be found throughout every division. For example, a fifth grade lesson on the cultures of Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas led to the creation of the global marketplace. Students sold handmade items to generate funds, which were donated to Heifer International to purchase livestock for residents in poverty-stricken nations. Middle School project-based lessons have benefitted Friends of the Animals, Catholic Charities and Support Our War Heroes. Ninth graders began this school year with a service learning retreat in August. Students volunteered at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, Melrose Elementary, the Knock Knock Children’s Museum, Front Yard Bikes and the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired.
While service learning is required in Upper School, many students participate in the projects simply because they want to help. Coach Taylor Mims says the girls basketball team made a commitment to service this season. “We want to think outside of us,” she says. “We are fortunate to be here and this is our norm, but we must think about what we can do for others.”
This commitment to service runs throughout Upper School. To empower students and encourage participation, there is a student service learning team. This group of students meets monthly to discuss potential projects and how to make them enjoyable for the Upper School community. “As co-president of the center for service learning, I’ve tried to advertise service as a fun activity, not as a graduation requirement,” says senior Ryan Whaley. “By pushing groups of friends to complete service together and by working with administrators to find fun new service projects, I think that our team has done a great job branding service as a ‘fun activity.’”
Collectively, the Episcopal community can do tremendous good. In November, members of the community donated more than 3,000 pounds of food to the Shepherd’s Market Food Pantry. More than 3,000 pounds! Each year, members of the Episcopal community participate in a school supply drive benefiting our partner school Melrose Elementary. When Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and surrounding areas, members of the community donated supplies to help residents recover.
Next week, there are numerous opportunities for Episcopal students and staff to serve, including the 2020 MLK Fest presented by the Walls Project, City Year’s Day of Service and the Front Yard Bikes effort to refurbish their outdoor spaces. Beginning February 1st, Episcopal volunteers will once again work alongside a new homeowner to build a home through Habitat for Humanity. Summerville, who is great at the three point line, says the basketball team has plans to work a Habitat shift together. Episcopal students and staff have participated in the student Habitat build for nearly 20 years.
It is often said that those who serve others reap more benefits than the people they are serving. In an educational setting, service learning helps students connect what they learn in the classroom to real world issues. It helps spark innovation and imagination as they explore and work toward meaningful solutions. It also fosters empathy for others that will hopefully generate understanding, a willingness to help and a desire to make the world a better place.
Thank you to everyone who makes service a priority, especially our student volunteers.
January marks the beginning of the college selection journey for Episcopal juniors. The journey they begin this month will culminate next school year with a chapel announcement and a plan for the next phase of their lives.
“This is the time to be getting on college campuses,” says College Counseling Director Justin Fenske. Fenske says students should be exploring and researching the types of universities available. In fact, he says the upcoming Mardi Gras break provides an ideal time for Louisiana students to tour out-of-state colleges since most will be in session. Fenske advises that a campus tour is much more than attending a college game day experience. Students should register for an official information session or tour even if they are fairly certain a particular school is the one for them. “We want students to be intentional in their decision making and they need the information to do that,” says Fenske.
For those students who have not considered what university they will attend, the College Counseling team offers the following advice on where to begin. “We recommend that students tour LSU, ULL, Tulane and Loyola,” says Fenske. He says these institutions offer completely different experiences and each campus has a unique feel. After these initial tours, students can then begin to explore other state and national options with a better understanding of their preferences.
In addition to exploring and researching schools, Fenske says members of the Class of 2021 should be checking the following items off their lists this semester.
1. Get ACT/SAT ready.
Fenske says by the end of their junior year students should have an ACT or SAT score that they feel reflects their abilities and college goals. He recommends taking the exams two to three times during junior year with the understanding that students will likely take it once more their senior year. Fenske recommends that students plan ahead for which day they’ll take the test before family schedules get booked and the spring rush sets in.
Episcopal offers a range of test prep opportunities. The next SAT Bootcamp is set for Saturday, February 15th. During these sessions, students review writing tips, take timed practice tests and work on SAT lessons. To read more about Episcopal test prep, click here. To read more about testing success, click here.
2. Secure a recommendation commitment.
Later this spring is also the time for juniors to secure teacher recommendations. Students will need to determine which teacher(s) to ask, complete the teacher recommendation worksheet(s) and make the request(s). Each student will need to secure two teacher commitments. While teachers will not write the letters until next school year, Fenske says planning ahead results in a more meaningful message. A solid teacher recommendation letter is an important component of a student’s admission application. Click here to read five tips the College Counseling team provides for creating an application that will get noticed.
3. Establish a presence on the SCOIR platform.
It can be challenging to remember all of the academic and extracurricular accomplishments that occur over the course of four years. To help with this, Episcopal uses the SCOIR application which allows students to track their activities. Fenske recommends that students visit the site now to log in, register their information and become familiar with the app. This will certainly prove valuable when students begin the admission essay writing process later this summer.
4. Get to know your College Counselor.
The College Counseling team consists of Fenske, Shandi Fazely and Dr. Alan Newton. Fenske says now is the time for students and College Counselors to get to know each other. He encourages students to schedule meetings with their counselor now and take full advantage of the resources offered. “The better we know the students, the better advice we can give them,” says Fenske.
On January 15th, the College Counseling team hosted the annual Junior College Night for parents of juniors. The team also met with the junior class to discuss the journey ahead. While Fenske advised students that the success of their search is up to them, he reinforced that the counseling team and the Episcopal faculty are here to help every step of the way.
While it may only be January of 2020, May of 2021 will arrive quickly. Thanks to the support and guidance of the Episcopal community, this year’s juniors will be ready to make the college choice that best helps them reach their potential as leaders of tomorrow.
College Lecture Series
The College Counseling team offers a lecture series to help parents and students navigate the admission process. Common topics include expectations for senior year, financial aid opportunities and trends in higher education. Mark your calendar for the next discussion.
Pursuing the Arts
Wednesday, February 5th
6:30 – 7:30 pm
There will be a panel discussion on art schools and the unique admission journeys they present. Nine members of the Class of 2019 chose to pursue an arts education. Read more about them here.
Upcoming College Admission Events:
SAT Bootcamp Evidence Based Reading and Writing
Saturday, February 15th
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Upper School Student Center
Highlands Ability Battery Introduction Session
Tuesday, February 18th
Upper School Conference Room
Register to attend here.
SAT Bootcamp Math
Saturday, March 7th
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Upper School Student Center
Saturday, March 14th
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Sunday, March 22nd
Events for sophomores and juniors take place across campus
A new year means new project-based lessons in Lower School. Most grades are in the exciting initial stages of their new units. “Students are interested in learning if topics are meaningful to them,” says Lower School Division Head Bridget Henderson. “By starting out each unit with Phase 1: Making Personal Connections, students are able to draw from their own experiences to bring relevance to any subject.” During Phase II, students investigate and research their topic by participating in field trips and learning from guest speakers. Finally, during the last phase students share what they have learned with their classmates and families.
The students have started the year with exciting new topics. You can learn more about the projects below. We know you are going to love the final presentations!
Oviparous – producing eggs that develop and hatch outside the maternal body Merriam-Webster dictionary
Episcopal kindergarteners will soon know the definition of oviparous. That’s because they just started a project-based unit on animals. Recently, students had the opportunity to learn from the experts at the Baton Rouge Zoo who brought animals to the Greer Center.
Three little pigs and Jack and the beanstalk. A look down the first grade hall confirms that it is time for the annual enchanted engineering unit. Students analyze classic fairy tales and think about the engineering involved. For example, students discuss whether a straw house or a brick house can withstand strong winds. Look out for the big bad wolf!
Students recently had an opportunity to learn more about wildlife in Antarctica and how researchers live on this frozen continent. LSU PhD student Maddie Myers spent three months in Antarctica studying snow and living in a tent in the Dry Valley region. Students were thrilled to learn more about her adventures. How do you get your food? How long does it take to get there? Why is some of the ice not covering the rocks? These are just a few of the questions the students asked. Students are learning about the continents and will continue exploring throughout the unit. By the way, an average emperor penguin grows to 45 inches tall and weighs up to 88 pounds.
Third graders are in the beginning stages of learning the principles of business. The lesson is sure to spark their interest in entrepreneurship. Look for an exciting Phase III when students showcase what they’ve learned! Third graders already learned about Louisiana's culture and traditions in a project-based unit earlier this school year. Students enjoyed a field trip to the Old State Capitol.
Yellowstone. Denali. Crater Lake. Episcopal fourth graders were eager to share everything they learned about our national parks during the finale of their national park unit. Students shared facts about park landforms, animals and climate. However, there was much more to the project. Numerous students said their favorite aspect of the project was putting the presentation slides together, making clay models or brainstorming ideas on how to stop problems such as littering at the parks. The national park unit is a comprehensive study and includes field trips to the Waddill Outdoor Education Center and LASM. BREC Superintendent Corey Wilson even stopped by Episcopal to speak with students about the importance of parks for a community. Of course, he brought along some of his friends!
Fifth graders are learning about their place in the global community and the impact they can have on others. As the school year progresses, the teachers will continue to relate class material to this global theme. In English, students read the book “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. In science, they learned more about wind energy and other forms of renewable energy during hands-on activities. In April, the lesson will culminate in the annual global marketplace showcasing everything students learned.
Project-based learning is a meaningful way to learn, no matter the grade. This way of learning encourages exploration and discovery. It also boosts student confidence and helps them develop a lifelong love of learning. Isn’t that exactly what a school should be doing?
Greek and Latin have been the cornerstone of a classical liberal arts education since the very foundations of Western Civilization. For centuries, a sound education in the classics was the hallmark of a liberal arts education. But today’s students are growing up in a different world, one of rapid innovation that is constantly looking forward, not backward. So how do you teach today’s students about the importance of their past when they are always looking forward to the next big thing?
Latin teacher and Episcopal technology guru Steve Latuso’s goal for this school year was to make the Cambridge Latin course material accessible and exciting for his eighth grade Latin II students. He did this by issuing a challenge to students – build a digital model of the Roman baths found in Bath, England using the video game Minecraft: Education Edition. Gone were the days of recreating a structure with popsicle sticks and macaroni noodles. Students responded to this new technological challenge with tremendous enthusiasm. “The Minecraft project was something we had never done before because we had previously made drawings and sketches of buildings but never built them in 3D,” says Sam Messina. “I think this was the most engaging way to learn about the Roman Baths as we were able to recreate the baths using our creativity,” says Ayush Patel.
Before the virtual blocks ever began stacking, the class researched the bathhouses and their role in first century Roman culture. Using virtual reality glasses, students toured a Roman bath facility reconstructed by the British in Bath, England without having to make the long trek across the globe. It wasn’t long before they were discussing bathhouse components such as the apodyterium, caldarium, natatio and palaestra. In addition, this lesson in Latin bolstered their knowledge in subjects such as physics, engineering, environmental science and even coding. “We learned how Romans implemented arches in their buildings while researching the structure of the bath complex,” says Ayush Patel. “We learned how a hypocaust (heating system for the baths) system was built in Ancient Rome and recreated it using modern materials in Minecraft.”
Once students began creating their virtual bathhouses, Latuso says they let their imaginations run wild. Evidence of the enthusiasm can be seen in the images they created. One apodyterium features flickering torches and intricate details. There is a natatio that is open to the sky with lush greenery growing from the second floor. Using the book and quill feature in Minecraft, students even composed their own version of curse tablets that were found by archeologists who excavated the baths. These 21st century students have successfully brought the ancient world to life in a virtual world.
Energy, enthusiasm, focus and engagement. When it comes to project-based learning, these are the feelings a teacher hopes to elicit. The Latin Minecraft project accomplished all of this and more. “I think one of the reasons this project was fun was because it took a game that a lot of people like and play regularly and turned it into something educational that people still wanted to play,” says Messina. “It made the research more fun and the information stayed with me because I got to put it to use doing something fun.”
Latuso says the study of ancient languages and cultures has many benefits for students today. “While conventional wisdom acknowledges the usefulness of Latin in improving students’ communication and critical thinking skills, our class embraced a modern twist on an ancient subject in order to personalize the experience for Episcopal students,” says Latuso. By emphasizing 21st century project-based learning ideals, Latin students had an opportunity to transfer their knowledge of one subject to a variety of subjects through innovative problem solving. Clearly, this modern take on learning Latin resonates with today’s Middle School students. What a great example of the personalized and innovative nature of an Episcopal education.
We are excited to celebrate members of the Class of 2020 as they make their college enrollment decisions. Congratulations!
Picture it. The year was 1999. I began my last semester of high school. In the fall semester, I filled out and sent off only TWO college applications (much to the chagrin of my college counselor). I received word back from both by January. After being admitted to both, one offered me $300 a semester for books. The other, my eventual undergrad alma mater -- Centenary College of Louisiana -- miraculously offered me a full scholarship covering tuition, room, and board. After doing some cost-benefit analysis, even I realized that fully free was better than a $300 coupon.
Indeed, life was looking pretty good for a young William Ryan Pritchard. After over a decade in school, I had made it. College for free! My intelligence and above average work ethic had been handsomely rewarded far better than I deserved. Mission accomplished! Clearly, I deserved to coast, right? Surely, I could allow the dreaded Senioritis to envelop me in its warm, lazy, hedonistic cocoon.
As it turned out, my college scholarship was contingent on keeping a 3.5 GPA throughout high school. Going into that spring semester of senior year, I hovered at something like a 3.52. If I had attended high school nearly anywhere else in America, keeping the 3.5 would have been a cakewalk. I didn’t attend just any high school, though. I spent my junior and senior campaigns at Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, one of the most rigorous public high schools in the United States. Every quiz mattered if I were going to keep that college scholarship. Every assignment? Mattered. Every paper? Mattered.
In the end, I was forced to stay on my toes throughout the whole final semester of high school to set myself up for a more successful life. In the end, I was grateful that I did not have the option of coasting. Because I never had the luxury of downshifting from fifth gear to second (… or first… or neutral), I kept working as if the coming transition to college was not such a big deal that it required me to take a really lame four month vacation where I continued to show up to school but existed as an apathetic zombie.
Instead, during my first semester, I found myself surrounded by lots of other college freshmen who still had Acute Senioritis three to four months after they graduated high school. Students skipped 9 a.m. (even 2 p.m.) classes with reckless abandon. Dudes would just hang out in their dorm rooms for days at a time and play Goldeneye or Madden without regard for the normal rules of time or hygiene. The same dudes only ventured out of their dorm rooms for lunch and dinner in the dining hall. Like a sasquatch, they would lumber quietly into the cafeteria, grab a burger and return back to their overpriced increasingly squalid campus hovel.
Some of those students broke out of it after getting a less-than-desirable first semester report card (and an earful from their parents). They snapped out of it and realized the error of their ways, going on to become good students who eventually had meaningful lives and careers. To be sure, a senioritis diagnosis need not be terminal. It does create a habit of inertia that many people find is hard to overcome though.
Sadly, just as many of those students rarely completed college. They lost their scholarships by the end of their first or second semester. They ended up taking 100-level classes two or three times before finally just giving up and going home. Unfortunately, senioritis became a chronic debilitation that extended beyond high school into the rest of their academic lives. Even worse, those students who did not make it through college were now on the hook for student loan payments for the next decade.
Again, as a graduate teaching assistant and university instructor, I saw the same pattern hold true. Not all students who engaged in senioritis struggled in college and dropped out; however, every student I encountered in office hours who struggled in college and eventually dropped out had developed a habit of disengagement in their own education that dated back to high school.
Just to make sure that I wasn’t making this connection too quickly, I reached out to a couple of my previous Episcopal students who are currently in their Freshman year at large state universities. When I asked those Episcopal alums about the toughest part about the transition to college, most echoed the same sentiments. Going from a school like Episcopal where all teachers, administrators, and college counselors knew your name to a large university with large blocks of time between classes where no one checks in on you was tough. One student claimed, “Everyone warns you about academics, too much partying, and living away from home, but nobody really ever talks about how having such an inconsistent schedule can pose a problem when beginning college.” This student did not fall prey to senioritis in the final year at Episcopal, but wondered in our conversation how someone could let off the gas in high school and still handle the transition to a place like LSU, Texas A&M, or University of Alabama seamlessly. “I absolutely think it would be harder,” she said. “It takes a great deal of self control and time management to be able to negotiate a schedule like I had with ease.”
So, as seniors round the bend with graduation and college in sight, I have some suggestions about how and why to combat senioritis:
Seniors, stop thinking about life as having a finish line. You’re never actually finished. The dynamic, interesting, and successful people never reach the finish line. At least none of the ones I’ve worked with or encountered in my relatively short life. They always keep one eye on the present and one eye looking for the next adventure. Read any biography of a person you admire who has had long-term success in business, athletics, politics, or any other pursuit. Nearly all of them talk in terms of never settling but also sticking to it.
Dr. Billy Pritchard
Dr. Billy Pritchard is a native of Winn Parish, Louisiana. He and his wife, Lisa, came to Episcopal in 2015 after spending the previous decade in Buffalo, New York. Dr. Pritchard is a 1999 graduate of the Louisiana School of Math, Science, and the Arts. In addition, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Centenary College of Louisiana, a master’s degree from Ole Miss and doctorate from SUNY-Buffalo. Dr. Pritchard teaches U.S. History, Honors AP U.S. History, American Presidency and the Civil Rights Movement.
In 2006, Assistant Athletic Director Jimmy Williams ’97 was in the middle of spring workouts with the Seattle Seahawks when he got word that he was to be inducted into the Episcopal Athletic Hall of Fame. He remembers his coach instantly advising him to return home for the ceremony. He recalls his teammates congratulating him and telling him that being selected to your school’s Hall of Fame is truly an honor. They said Hall of Fame recognition means people remember your contribution and you have left a lasting legacy.
The Episcopal Hall of Fame celebrates the legacy of outstanding athletes and non-athletes who have provided significant support to Episcopal athletics. There are currently 23 Knights among this elite group. Some of the high school standouts have gone on to become professional athletes. Meghan O’Leary ’03 is a World Cup medalist, a National Selection Regatta Champion and an Olympic rower. Williams and fellow 2006 inductee Van Hiles ’93 both went on to play football in the NFL. Episcopal Hall of Fame inductees, such as Dr. Rubin Patel ’90, have earned athletic scholarships to top-tier universities. These Knights are leaders in their communities. They are ambassadors for their school. “This is a prestigious honor,” says Episcopal Athletic Director Randy Richard. “It means you were one of the best and you continue to represent Episcopal well.”
Being a student athlete can be challenging. Richard says students spend a full day at school, attend practice for as long as three hours a day and then return home to complete homework and prepare for exams. During the summer, many athletes dedicate themselves to the strength and conditioning program, as well as summer leagues to continue to hone their skills. "The planning and communication that a student has to commit to is multiplied when a student participates in multiple activities,” says Richard. A spot in the Episcopal Hall of Fame is a way to recognize the hours and the effort. “It validates all the work,” says Williams. “For me it was bigger than winning a state championship.”
The Episcopal Hall of Fame is about more than records and championships. For an athletic program to truly be successful there must be a community of supporters who may never wear a blue and gold uniform, but nonetheless have a tremendous impact. The Hall of Fame committee recognizes these contributions and includes noteworthy supporters. One example is former Episcopal math teacher Kay Fenton, who was chosen for the Hall of Fame in 2009. While she was not an athlete or a coach, the athletics staff recognized the tremendous support Fenton provided to student athletes. “She wasn’t a coach, but she might as well have been,” says Williams. “She was special.” Williams says students always knew that Fenton would be in attendance when they took the field or the court. “It means a lot when faculty are there in the stands,” he says. “I don’t think they realize how much it means to our students.” Richard says Fenton was also recognized because she understood the challenges that student athletes face when juggling athletics and academics. “She was dedicated to making sure our athletes succeeded the right way in the classroom,” he says.
Another inductee who did not play for the Knights is longtime Episcopal supporter LaRon Phillips. Richard says Phillips has been an overwhelming source of support for Episcopal athletics over the years and he continues that commitment even now with his support of the new field house. In addition, Richard says last year’s inductee, Althea “Chinkie” Cointment, was recognized for her efforts in bolstering female athletics at Episcopal. She was also a key catalyst in establishing a successful girls Middle School athletics program.
Like inductees in years past, this year’s honoree will be invited to speak at the spring athletic ceremony in May. This is a special occasion for those being honored and the students who get to spend time with them. “The Hall of Fame serves as a compass that points to people who were successful in the past,” says Williams. “It also provides a way to merge the athletes of the past with the next generation.” Williams says it makes an impression on the young athletes when a professional offers them words of advice and wisdom. It is especially meaningful when those words are coming from someone who worked out in the same locker rooms or played in the same gym. “It makes it tangible and gives students a sense of history,” he says.
Williams wants his fellow inductees to know that they are serving as an example for today’s students. He regularly fields questions from students about the people listed on the honorary plaques in the gym. “It gives them a bar to work toward,” he says. Richard hopes student athletes gain inspiration from past successes. “I hope they think about the future and continuing to represent Episcopal,” he says. “I hope they reflect on the influence they have on future generations with what they are accomplishing today.”
We invite you to recognize someone who has made a significant contribution to Episcopal athletics by nominating them for the Hall of Fame. You can submit your nomination online by clicking here and scrolling to the nomination form. Completing the form is quick and easy. The deadline to submit your nomination is Friday, February 28th.
Whose contributions will you recognize?
Congratulations to members of the Episcopal Athletic Hall of Fame
2019 – Althea “Chinkie” Cointment
2018 – April Brown ’95
2017 – P. Holden Spaht Jr. ’92
2016 – Andrew G. Loupe ’07
2015 – Shelby Seger Vickers '83
2014 – Meghan O’Leary ’03
2013 – Joseph Finley Clark '78
2012 –Charles Sentrell Kennon Jr. '88
Robert Louis Sindelar II '86
2011 – Neil Abramson '85
2009 – Kay Fenton
N. LaRon Phillips
2008 – David Abramson '84
Mark Elliott '84
Nikki Seger '80
2007 – Stephen Underwood '94
Rubin Patel ’90
Baker Vinci '80
2006 – Frances Compton
Fran Teeter Flory '80
Van Hiles ’93
Jennifer Meade McCarthy '94
Jimmy Williams ’97
We are excited to celebrate members of the Class of 2020 as they make their college enrollment decisions. Congratulations!