Every sunrise is an invitation for us to arise and brighten someone's day. Richelle E. Goodrich, Author, Novelist & Poet
Longtime Episcopal volunteer Mary Burris has dedicated thousands of hours to the school’s students and staff. Since 1998, she has served in roles including room mom, cafeteria server and library assistant. In the library, she shelves 800 Lower School books a week and has placed 100,000 stickers on Lower School reading materials. On any given day in the Upper School library, Mary can be found covering books before they enter circulation. As a former cafeteria volunteer, she could be counted on to serve student meals with a bright smile and a friendly greeting. She has done this faithfully for more than 20 years, and in doing so, she has left her mark on the community she loves.
Mary’s time as an Episcopal volunteer began when she and her family moved to Baton Rouge from New Orleans. “I just love this school,” she says. She points to the curriculum and the access to sports as just two examples of everything Episcopal offers. “If I had gone to a school like this,” Mary ponders. As a young woman, Mary earned a degree in political science from UNO. As a mother, she dedicated herself to her children. Volunteering at Episcopal provided Mary the perfect opportunity to be involved with her children’s education and to be an active participant in their lives. She was that proud mom in the school cafeteria line. As her children passed through, Mary would loudly proclaim to everyone in earshot, “Look at my daughter. Look how pretty she is.” While such proclamations may have embarrassed the children then, Mary says they appreciate her now.
Although her children are now adults, Mary remains a library volunteer. “I love books,” says Mary, who doesn’t read fiction and enjoys a good true crime story or a popular biography. Mary’s natural talents have made her an ideal volunteer library assistant. “I have a keen eye for numbers,” she says. Such a skill proves beneficial when shelving hundreds of books according to a Dewey decimal number.
Mary is a dynamic, larger-than-life storyteller. As she tells of her adventures, the listener cannot help but be drawn into the stories of her passion for tennis and particularly Roger Federer. There is even the story of the time that she was actually the answer to a trivia question on the radio program “Walton and Johnson.” Mary is also an animal lover and enjoys sharing tales of her furry friends. At one point in her life her family included turtles, horses, sheep, ducks, goats, cats and dogs – all within the Baton Rouge city limits. No matter the day or the time, it seems Mary always has a story to share and those who know her are eager to listen.
The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again." Charles Dickens
Students and teachers from every division had joyful encounters this week. Teachers and staff delivered special yard signs celebrating the Distance Learning taking place at the homes of Episcopal students.
Since the transition to Distance Learning, students and teachers have used technology to connect and continue learning. This week’s delivery was a special opportunity for them to see each other in person. While maintaining appropriate social distancing precautions, everyone was delighted to see each other. The exchange was just what everyone needed to finish the school year strong.
With all of the stress and uncertainty in the world today, there has never been a better time to learn about or practice mindfulness. John Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic, defines mindfulness as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Sounds pretty simple, right? But it takes practice. The great thing about mindfulness is that it is always available. You can practice anywhere!
You can practice while brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, or taking a walk. Through mindfulness practices, we can learn to acknowledge our thoughts and feelings without getting stuck. We can learn to focus on the here and now instead of ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.
So much has been written in the last several years about the benefits of practicing mindfulness in our increasingly busy and stressful world. Mindfulness is said to decrease stress, improve sleep, increase focus, and improve emotional reactivity and relationship satisfaction among others.
Where should you start with cultivating a mindfulness practice? Kabat-Zinn suggests 9 attitudes that should be incorporated into your mindfulness practice:
1. Beginner’s Mind - Be willing to see everything as if for the first time.
2. Non-Judging - Recognize judging thoughts, then keep going.
3. Patience - Accept that things will happen in their own time.
4. Trust - Trust your intuition and honor your own feelings.
5. Non-striving - Instead of focusing on results, see and accept things as they are.
6. Acceptance - Recognize that things are the way they are.
7. Letting Go - Acknowledge your feelings and let them go.
8. Generosity - Bring happiness to others by giving them your full attention.
9. Gratitude - Bring your attention to all the good in your life.
There are countless ways to incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine.
Here are just a few examples:
Six Daily Questions to Ask Yourself While Social Distancing
1. What am I grateful for today?
2. Who am I checking in on, or connecting with, today?
3. What expectations of “normal” am I letting go of today?
4. How am I getting outside today?
5. How am I moving my body today?
6. What beauty am I creating, cultivating, or inviting today
Mindful Parenting Quick Tips
○ Notice your own feelings when you’re in conflict with your child.
○ Learn to pause before responding in anger
○ Listen carefully to a child’s viewpoint even when disagreeing with it.
Apps and Websites with Mindfulness Meditations and Resources:
Meditation Apps for Pandemic Anxiety: Calm, Headspace, Weightless
Other Mindfulness and meditation apps: Aura, Breethe, Buddhify, iMindfulness, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris, Mindfulness Daily
Mindful Parenting by Kristen Race, PhD
Sara LeBlanc is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Before joining the Episcopal community in 2010 as the Lower School Counselor, she was a school based therapist with the Capital Area Human Services District.
Sometimes a lesson is so much more than what it appears. A perfect example is the fifth grade project-based unit on renewable energy. Students could have simply learned about solar and wind energy in a textbook, but teachers Margaret Boudreaux, Nicole Engstrom and Christy Talbot had much more in mind. The teaching team planned a powerful lesson complementing the concepts in the book “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” by Bryan Mealer and William Kamkwamba.
The book tells the true story of a boy named William Kamkwamba whose ingenuity changes the lives of everyone in his village in Malawi. William used scrap parts to build his own windmill to generate electricity and running water. All he had to inspire his creation was a library book filled with photos of windmills, yet he was able to generate power.
At Episcopal, Mrs. Engstrom introduced students to a dynamo flashlight. Students had to take the gadgets apart and determine how they function. As the students disassembled the flashlights, their natural curiosity was peaked and there was excitement in the room. Later in the lesson, Mrs. Engstrom and the students spent time outdoors harnessing the sun. Students used tiny solar panels to collect solar energy on a bright, sunny December day. The students were rewarded for their efforts when their tiny fans began to spin and their lights began to blink. To round out the lesson, students worked in groups to generate as much energy as possible with their own water wheels and windmills.
The fifth grade renewable energy project showcased the expertise of a variety of experts, including an ExxonMobil chemist and Upper School physics teacher Dr. Xiaoyue Jiang. In addition, Academic Technology Coordinator Betsy Minton assisted with flashlight deconstruction. It was a project-based unit that tapped into the strengths of many.
Throughout each component of the lesson, the teachers found ways to relate the project back to William Kamkwamba’s own experience. As students explored the dynamo flashlight, Mrs. Engstrom reminded them that William used a similar method for generating electricity. As students explored the scientific concepts involving renewable energy, there was an underlying reminder that they can solve problems and make the world a better place. Even if the young students don’t realize it now, the lesson fits well within the framework of an educational institution that encourages students to ask questions, delve deeper and learn more while focusing on the beneficial impacts one person can have on others.
Like William Kamkwamba, Episcopal fifth graders are tomorrow’s leaders. William’s story has become an inspiration for many. Now the boy who couldn’t finish high school because of his family’s lack of funds has graduated from Dartmouth College. He has served as a TED Speaker and a Global Fellow with ideo.org. He is proof that anyone can make a difference. Just imagine what these fifth graders can do!
Episcopal has a tradition of encouraging environmental stewardship. Click here to read more about environmental education efforts. To read about the fifth grade planting project at the Bonnet Carre spillway, click here.
Happy Earth Day!
Episcopal students are celebrating tremendous success. Please join us in congratulating these students on their accomplishments. Look for more student success stories in the coming weeks.
Episcopal Students Lauded for Efforts on 2020 National Latin Exam
Of the 26 Episcopal students that took the 2020 National Latin Exam, 13 earned awards. This year over 120,000 students from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and 20 foreign countries took the exam. Congratulations to this year’s award winners!
The National Latin Exam, sponsored by the American Classical League and the National Junior Classical League, is a 40-question, multiple-choice test, offered to students on seven levels. Students encounter questions on grammar, comprehension, mythology, derivatives, literature, Roman life, history, geography, oral Latin and Latin in use in the modern world.
The philosophy of the National Latin Exam is predicated on providing every Latin student the opportunity to experience a sense of personal accomplishment and success in their study of the Latin language and culture. This opportunity exists for all students since, in the National Latin Exam, they are not competing with their fellow students on a comparative basis, but are evaluated solely on their own performance on the exam. The basic purposes of the NLE are to promote the study of Latin and to encourage the individual student.
Future Authors Place in Writing Contest
Several Episcopal Lower School students placed in the recent Young Authors Writing Contest sponsored by the Capital Area Reading Council. While the official placements haven’t been released yet, we congratulate these students on their outstanding efforts. In addition, we congratulate Lucy Fasullo for placing second at the state competition in the fiction category.
Episcopal Student Supports Area Patients
Way to go Annie Engholm! This talented third grader has been making jewelry and selling it in her Etsy shop to raise money in support of COVID-19 patients. She recently donated her proceeds to Baton Rouge General Hospital. We are so proud!
Summer of Musical Theatre
Congratulations to Cate Brien for being accepted to the Interlochen Center for the Arts’ Musical Theatre summer program. The Interlochen Center for the Arts is located in Michigan and provides six week programs during which students have the opportunity to work with professional guest artists to perform musical theatre productions. Acceptance into the program is highly competitive.
All-Metro Soccer Team
After an incredible season including a district title, a number one ranking and a state runner-up finish in the championship game, the Knights are now celebrating several players on the Division III & IV All-Metro Team. Congratulations!
Tochi Mbagwu - senior cornerback; D4D4 Overall MVP, First Team All-District, 9 goals and 2 assists, Three-Time All-Metro
Jett Turnley - senior defensive midfielder; D4D4 Defensive MVP, Four-Time All-Metro, First Team All-District, 15 goals and 9 assists
Josh Wilson - junior goalkeeper; D4D4 First Team All-District, 12 Shut-outs, Countless high profile saves
Congratulations to Tochi Mbagwu for being named the Defensive MVP by the Louisiana High School Soccer Coaches Association! Mbagwu was named First Team All-State in Division IV. In addition, Episcopal soccer coach Kiran Booluck was named the Division IV Coach of the Year!
Academic All Stars
Congratulations to powerlifter John Pojman for being named Academic All State in Powerlifting!
Congratulations to baseball player Ryan Field for being named a Composite Academic All State in Baseball!
Congratulations to runner James Christian for being named a Composite Academic All State in Track and Field!
If you have ever taken a flight, you have most certainly heard these instructions: “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.” The reason for this - If you don’t put on your mask first, you risk losing consciousness and being unable to help anyone else.
With words like “social distancing” and “distance learning” now being part of our daily lives and when we are filling multiple roles that are normally shared, we can find our emotional resources being stretched to their limits. We might feel more sensitive and reactive than usual. We may find our tolerance is low and our tendency to lash out at loved ones more prevalent. In times like these, it’s essential to put on our own “oxygen mask” - to take care of ourselves so we can care for those around us. One way to do this: self-compassion.
The University of Texas at Austin Associate Professor Kristin Neff, PhD has identified three elements of self-compassion:
What are some ways you can practice self-compassion?
These are just a few ideas for practicing self-compassion. Keep in mind - it is called a “practice” because it takes intention and effort, but the benefits are worth it. And remember, we can only care for others if we first care for ourselves.
Contact your division counselor for additional support and resources.
References and Resources:
Mindful. (2017, January 11). “Jon Kabat-Zinn: Defining Mindfulness.” Retrieved March 31, 2020 from https://www.mindful.org/jon-kabat-zinn-defining-mindfulness/.
Morin, A. (2020, January 4). “Coping Skills for Dealing with Uncomfortable Emotions.” Retrieved March 31, 2020 from https://www.verywellmind.com/forty-healthy-coping-skills-4586742.
Neff, K. (2020). “What is Self-Compassion?” Retrieved March 31, 2020 from https://self-compassion.org/.
Pollak, S. M. (2019). Self-Compassion for Parents: Nurture Your Child by Caring for Yourself. The Guilford Press.
Suttie, J. (2018, October 24). “Five Ways Mindfulness Meditation is Good for Your Health.” Retrieved March 31, 2020 from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/five_ways_mindfulness_meditation_is_good_for_your_health.
Jodi Manton has served as the Upper School Counselor since 2015 where she provides academic and social/emotional services to Upper School students and their families. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC), and Certified School Counselor. She has a master's degree in education with a concentration in mental health counseling and a Certificate of Education Specialist with a concentration in school counseling from Louisiana State University.
We know that our teachers are amazing and we are grateful for each of them. In this time of distance learning, they continue to find ways to stay connected to students and to show how much they care. Upper School teachers delivered yard signs to members of the Class of 2020 reminding seniors that the school supports them. Younger students were also surprised by their teachers who dropped off a special delivery of Easter treats. (Teachers and students made sure to abide by CDC social distancing guidelines during all of the special deliveries.) Share your photos with us. Email them to email@example.com
Hats off to teachers who continue making a difference for students!
Taking a Break from Distance Learning
Spring Break is arriving at the perfect time for children and families to unwind, relax, and detach from our daily lives. If you don’t have any plans for spring break, and you’re wondering how to use this time to enjoy your family and shake up the repetitiveness, consider the following “staycation” options. Hopefully, these suggestions will encourage family fun and bonding while still adhering to social distancing guidelines.
Remember that whatever you choose to do is okay. You are not expected to be a travel agent, homeschool teacher, or party planner. Give yourself a break and a pat on the back for continuing to parent, work from home and survive during this local and national crisis. This New York Times article is a reminder that it’s okay if you aren’t renovating your kitchen or refreshing your flower beds. We are all doing our best and that is enough. Engage with your family in a way that feels right for you, but don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. Remember to take care of yourself, staying mentally and physically healthy. There is no “right” way to parent in a pandemic.
Many parents are working from home and serving our community as essential personnel. If your family falls in this category, thank you for your amazing service!
Tips for Family Fun
Spring break is also a great time to get outdoors with your family. The mental and physical health benefits of time in nature are numerous. Even in a time of social distancing, there are multiple options for taking advantage of the great outdoors, including the following.
BREC Parks and Recreation System. (n.d.) Refresh with BREC. Retrieved April 6, 2020, from http://www.brec.org/index.cfm/page/playandgrowprosREFRESH
Filucci, S. (2020, March 31). Online Playdates, Game Nights, and Other Ways to Socialize at a Distance. Common Sense Media. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/online-playdates-game-nights-and-other-ways-to-socialize-at-a-distance?j=7726481&sfmc_sub=170796032&l=2048712_HTML&u=144271724&mid=6409703&jb=230&utm_source=media_nl_20200403&utm_medium=email
Lorenz, T. (2020, April 1). Stop Trying to be Productive. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/01/style/productivity-coronavirus.html
Temple Health. (2020, March 25). 5 Tips for Staying Connected while Social Distancing. Temple Health. https://www.templehealth.org/about/blog/5-tips-staying-connected-while-social-distancing
Alicia Kelly has served as a School Counselor at Episcopal since 2001. As the Middle School Counselor, she has a passion for helping preadolescents reach their potential, academically, emotionally, and spiritually. Alicia holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, master’s degree in health sciences- rehabilitation counseling, and is a Certified School Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor.
As distance learning continues, we are all finding ways to connect, whether it’s through video, email or simply talking on the phone. In times of hardship and uncertainty, being a part of a team and a community matters. For that reason, we are celebrating the Episcopal spring sports teams. These students have trained hard and we applaud them for their efforts. We also thank our seniors for setting an example for those who will come after them. (All photos courtesy of KnightPix)
When it comes to golf, Coach Randy Richard encourages athletes to “Respect the Game.” He advises his team to “get out and continue honing your craft. Golf is a sport that cannot be mastered, you must continue to build the different aspects of your game all year long, not just during golf season. Take a deep breath, be thankful for your many blessings, and continue to be a good representative of Episcopal.”
One outstanding representative of Episcopal is senior golfer Caroline Glynn. Caroline was a part of the Episcopal team that finished as runner up in the Division II state tournament last year. Coach Richard had the following message for his sole senior. “Caroline, you have had quite a run over the years in golf. I can still remember Coach McCrary telling me about you before you ever arrived at Episcopal. You have exceeded expectations on the course and you are a great representative for Episcopal. Thanks for all your hard work!”
The Episcopal softball Knights were ready to swing into action this spring with seniors Kennedy Clark, Sydney Summerville and Savannah York leading the way. Head Coach Heidi Hebert had this to say about the seniors. “You are an amazing group of young women. You have put in so much work to get where you are today and I could not be more proud of you. This year has thrown you some curve balls, but I know without a shadow of a doubt you are ready for what your next chapter holds for you. You are STRONG and COURAGEOUS, always reach for the stars!”
This year’s senior trio is joined by a strong and talented team. Coach Hebert offers the following advice for uncertain times. “I know your hopes for the 2020 season have changed from the excitement of our success to, will we step on the field again. Unfortunately, life does not always go as planned, but it is what has been put before us and my hope is that you have been able to find positives in your everyday life. I miss seeing your smiling faces, hearing your laughs and even hearing your groans when I tell you to run! You are KNIGHTS! You are capable of achieving many wonderful things. Continue striving for success in all you do!”
The Episcopal tennis team plays with the motto: Hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard. Although the season was short, this year’s athletes certainly demonstrated tremendous talent and effort. The team was led by seniors Sarah Collier, Jared Levatino, Will McCarthy, Casey Rigby, Halle Roman and Jack Sulzer. Coach James Clayton had this to say about these talented students. “Thanks to all the seniors who put the hard work and commitment into the tennis program. The coaches appreciate the leadership given to the team during the short time our team had together in 2020. Though every senior did not earn a trophy they earned the coaches respect as young adults that will carry into their next chapter in life.”
Coach Clayton reminds the rest of the tennis squad that the future of the program is bright. “The coaches want to thank the team for working hard and building a strong chemistry during our short time together in 2020. The commitment that each player showed reciprocated throughout the program. This gave us so much motivation and potential as a tennis program. This will carry as a building block for what lies ahead for the program.”
Track & Field
In keeping with Episcopal tradition, the track and field team has already had a tremendous year. The boys squad won the indoor state title and the girls finished the state tournament third. While Coach Claney Duplechin says it would have been great to complete the year with the outdoor title as well, he is grateful to have completed the indoor season and to have earned the victory. He had these words of advice for his team. “I just want all of our team to know how proud I am of them. They were one of the hardest working teams I’ve ever had. I feel very confident we could have won the outdoor title as well. These last couple of weeks have been so hard on all of us. We’ve discussed taking punches and coming back hard. God is truly testing us in these times. We must continue to have faith that things will work out. I know we can’t see the future but I know our team will be better people having gone through these trying times. I so miss our daily routines, the stretching, the talk, the workouts, etc. But what I really miss is each of you.”
This year’s boys track and field team includes seniors Ian Begnaud, James Christian, Alex Harlan, Trevor Heath, Gautam Mahes, Joe Patterson and Kendric Washington. The girls team includes seniors Makenzie Daugherty and Ella Clair Kimbrough. Coach Bill Jones had the following message for his seniors. “I want to let these two girls know that whether we get to complete our season or not that they have both been a pleasure to coach and have contributed greatly to our program.”
“I would like for the rest of our team to know that they are in my thoughts and prayers,” says Coach Jones. “I miss each and every member of our team immensely and can’t wait to get back to coaching them. I feel blessed to be a Knight!”
The spring sports season didn’t turn out like anyone expected. However, there is still the bond of being a part of a team and the connections that players and coaches establish. While we may not be discussing stats, scores and records, we will always remember the lessons, love and camaraderie.
Go Knights. Good People. Have Fun. District, Regional, State Champs.
The sports honors keep coming in for the Knights. Congratulations on the following achievements!
Senior baseball player Peyton Sybrandt signed with the Auburn Tigers for next year. Congratulations!
Senior softball player Sydney Summerville has committed to continue her softball career at Belhaven University in Jackson, MS! Congratulations!
Episcopal basketball players Izzy Besselman, Annslee Bourgeois, Jewel Jones, Sydney Summerville, DJ Morgan and Ricky Volland have earned spots on the 1st Team on their respective All District Teams and Coach Taylor Mims was named the All District Coach of the Year. Congratulations!
Adam Reid shared his project with his peers on LAUNCH Day, which took place on March 6, 2020. Adam, a member of ESTAAR, conducted research in an LSU lab. He designed and built a device that could identify fluids by measuring their electrical capacitance, and he hoped the device might make work in the oil and gas industry safer and help to keep the environment clean. Adam’s research responds directly to a need we have right here in our home state.
Living in Louisiana most of my life, I can’t help but have noticed some of the things that make this state so special. Everyone knows about how good our music is. Our food speaks for itself, too. Some people come here to enjoy the Cajun culture they can’t get elsewhere. Some come for the ultra-intense sporting events. Some just want to relax, enjoy, and explore the bayous. There are not many other places that have this in common with us. But Louisiana is unique for more than just being a cool place to live. Our economy is one of the most important in the nation and the world outside, and we have none other than crude oil to thank.
As is, there is a widespread motivation to improve the crude oil extraction process. Most of that motivation comes from the daily desires of ordinary people and consumers. It’s impossible to understate the near impossibility of living a life that isn’t impacted by crude oil in some way. Most people are aware of crude oil’s implication on transportation. Our daily commute, our grocery runs, our delivery services, etc., are all contingent on crude oil in some way or another. And so is the road surface. And tires. Electronics. Detergents. Food preservatives. Polyester clothing. Cosmetic products. Toothpaste. Shoes. And plastics, to name a few. Keep a list of all the normal things we do and use each day, and it’s easy to see just how much crude oil impacts our lives.
We have to get crude oil from the ground somewhere. But at what cost? As is, the way that we get most of it is simple enough. We dig deep holes where we think the oil is, wait for something to force itself to the top, and verify whether or not it’s a useful site. Workers can stand by and monitor what is being extracted as it comes out.
Here’s the problem: the mixture that comes from the ground usually isn’t a pure sample of crude oil, and the process of it coming out of the ground isn’t a gentle one. The mixture that arises is usually a mixture of things including water and other gases. However, there is little way for workers to know exactly what is in the mixture coming up from deep below the ground until it reaches the surface. If the mixture ends up containing too much water or, worse, too much gas, potentially disastrous consequences await. In many cases, the risks of working in an oil field are great. Any accident, though small initially, can escalate into something that is detrimental to our environment and is deadly for the people involved. No matter how we choose to get our energy and produce our goods, finding a way to preserve our own lives and the world that we live in needs to take priority.
And so, my research was born. I set out to demonstrate a way that crude oil extraction could be made to be safer for workers, to pose less of an environmental threat, and to explore ideas related to science and engineering that might inspire others to think and to cherish the amazing opportunities in the world around. Although the results of my research were mixed at best, I still managed to make a cheap, simple, and reproducible device, which was a proof of concept that can be used in future research.
Adam is a current senior. He is the Honor Council President, a National Merit Finalist, and is a member of the National Honor Society. He is a long-time member of the select Wind Ensemble group and is the current Treasurer of the Mu Alpha Theta club. When he is not inundated with school, he enjoys biking, inline skating, and catching up with friends.