Members of the Episcopal community gathered last week to celebrate an exciting new project – the Episcopal Athletic Field House. Students, donors, school leadership, staff and cheerleaders were on hand for the official groundbreaking ceremony that marks the beginning of construction on the first new athletic building on campus since 1982.
The field house is slated to be a multi-use facility where students of all ages can take physical education classes, participate in strength training and prepare for interscholastic sports. The building boasts 22,637 square feet of space for weight training, cardio training, individual sport locker rooms, coaching offices and collaboration spaces, conference rooms, classrooms, a concession stand, a sports medicine and training area and more.
Erecting a new building on campus would not be possible without the commitment and support of the entire Episcopal community. We were honored to have an array of members representing the Episcopal community participate in the groundbreaking. Participants included: Cameron Dumas ʼ18, 2018 Male Athlete of the Year; Adam Fishbien and Jennifer Price, GraceHebert Architects; Katheryn Flournoy, Board Chair; Gwen Graves ʼ88, Field House Lead Donor and Trustee; Todd Graves ʼ90, Field House Lead Donor and Spirit • Mind • Body Campaign Co-Chair; Ainsley Grigsby ʼ92, Leadership Donor; Victoria Guarisco, Leadership Donor; Hunter Heaslip ʼ18, 2018 Female Athlete of the Year; John Kojis, Director of Operations; Hugh McIntosh, Head of School; Randy Richard, Athletic Director and Robert Ward, Cangelosi Ward General Contractors. For a full list of field house donors click here.
We are especially grateful for our field house lead donors Todd ʼ90 and Gwen ʼ88 Graves. The couple, who are Episcopal alumni and parents of current Episcopal students, have generously stepped forward with a tremendous contribution to make the field house a reality. Gwen reiterated that the new facility will serve students from PreK-3 to Upper School and that it truly is a necessity for students and coaches. Todd, who is also the campaign co-chair, recognized the coaches in attendance saying the field house is dedicated to them and the work they do. “Coaches had just as much or even more of an impact on me as my teachers,” the former quarterback and track athlete shared. He went on to say that he learned the value of hard work, respect, leadership and teamwork thanks to the Episcopal coaches.
At Episcopal, we strive to serve the whole child, from spirituality and academics to athletics and the arts. Such an ambitious project as a new field house is needed to better serve our students, who excel in multiple arenas while maintaining academic excellence. This school year, the Knights fielded 62 varsity and sub-varsity teams, with more than 80% of Middle and Upper School students participating in at least one sport. Multiple teams advanced to state-level competitions and several athletes plan to continue their athletic careers into college. Our students truly are thriving on and off the field.
On any given day our varsity coaching staff can be found working with even the youngest Knights, as physical education at Episcopal begins in Lower School. The coaching staff are also integral to the success of our project-based learning units, often being called upon to assist with everything from the adventures of "Charlotte’s Web" to organizing a mini-triathlon for first graders. Physical education is a key component of a well-rounded experience and this new field house will only elevate that for students, coaches and families.
It truly is an exciting time to be an Episcopal Knight. We began this school year with a celebration of the renovated Lewis Memorial Chapel of The Good Shepherd. This fall we will celebrate the completion of the new Academic Commons, a facility dedicated to science and math. Now we eagerly anticipate our newest endeavor – the Athletic Field House. Episcopal is a community steeped in tradition, yet prepared for the future. We thank everyone for their support and belief in the Episcopal mission and ministry. We look forward to continued success for generations to come.
The Episcopal Athletic Field House is the third stage of the Spirit • Mind • Body Campaign, which has supported all of the recent new endeavors on campus. As of now, $7.1 million has been committed toward the $9.4 million project cost of the Academic Commons and $5 million has been committed toward the estimated $8.3 million Athletic Field House project cost.
For more information on the Episcopal Athletic Field House click here. For a list of additional Naming Opportunities click here or contact Capital Campaign Director Mellie Bailey at 225-755-2687.
The Episcopal Writing Center is a special place where fellows form lifelong bonds. In keeping with tradition, this year's underclassmen wrote Senior Tributes highlighting the graduating fellows and the impact they've had on the program.
Major: International Political Economy and Business
You could always find Senior Writing Fellow Louise Andreeff hard at work at the sun-lit table beside the window in the Writing Center. Her positive energy was ever present, as well. Louise made the choice to become a part of our community after attending her first appointment, as she realized just how helpful the Writing Center is to students. Louise wanted to be a resource for others, which is just one example among many of what makes Louise such an inspiration. Being a part of our community, as said by Louise, has helped her learn that “age doesn’t matter,” that anybody can benefit from learning from others, regardless of his or her grade, which is an important lesson for us all. Louise says, “The Writing Center is the only service you can get on campus in which the helper gets as much out of the experience as the other person.” Needless to say, Louise has helped the Writing Center grow in innumerable ways. Whether she was leading a Spooky Waffle Workshop or helping students tying their papers’ content back to their main claims, Louise was always making a positive contribution to our school community at large. As for current and future Writing Fellows, Louise says to always try to form a relationship with the student you are tutoring. “Try to say hi if you see them around,” she says because it’s always nice to know someone new on campus. While Louise is leaving our community next year, her lasting impact on our Writing Center will always remain.
-- By Olivia Grice
Major: Psychology with a focus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Elliott Kellam has contributed to numerous Episcopal groups and teams, an important one being the Writing Center. I was able to experience his exceptional skills prior to knowing him as a Writing Fellow. I met Elliott on the swim team during my freshman year. As a freshman, I was intimidated to be on a team on which I frequently practiced with upperclassmen. Fortunately, Elliott warmly welcomed me. He helped introduce me to my teammates and taught me about how the Episcopal swim team worked. I quickly adapted to the atmosphere of the swim team and felt completely comfortable in no time. As a junior, and especially as a senior, Elliott was an obvious leader of the swim team. He was able to keep everyone accountable of their work and made sure that everyone was having fun no matter how hard the practice. The physical and mental challenges of the sport just made us closer. My experiences on the swim team with Elliott may seem irrelevant in a piece about the Writing Center, but I find the experiences similar. Elliott also acted as a leader in the Writing Center. He introduced me to how the Writing Center worked and answered any questions I had about how I should interact with students that I tutored. I am confident that he has been successful in making the students that he tutored fully comfortable, just as he made me feel as a freshman. In a recent conversation, he gave me advice that I will use in my fast approaching years as an upperclassman. He told me that the main purpose of being a Writing Fellow is to give back to Episcopal. Episcopal has given me the gift of skills and knowledge of writing. As a writing fellow, I can spread knowledge and teach others lifelong skills. Elliott also advised me to be a strong leader for all. I have learned from him that a good leader will be stern, but will also be kind and spread positiveness. He told me of the importance of speaking the truth, and being okay with not knowing the answer. I will not only apply these skills in the Writing Center but in my life. When I become an upperclassman, I will remember the kindness that Elliott showed me, and spread that kindness to the future underclassmen who look up to me.
-- By Sara Be
Rachel Posner: one of the sweetest, most down-to-earth gals I know. Whether she is helping her friends with papers, visiting the Writing Center, or organizing waffle workshops, Rachel can be described as a “ray of sunshine.” She began her journey as a Writing Fellow during her sophomore year. She distinctly remembers her first session. She was paired with a senior, adding to her nervousness, but through this, she was able to grow more confidence in herself as a tutor and a writer. Besides her growth in confidence, Rachel also stated that through working in the Writing Center, she has been able to expand her writing skills through collaboration with others. She enjoys seeing the different writing styles she comes across, as well as the new faces she meets while tutoring. Another aspect of the Writing Center that Rachel has always loved is the community and the general space that she has utilized not only for its productive atmosphere but also as a place where she can interact with new people within the writing community. As for her specialties as a writing tutor, because Rachel excels in skills such as clarity and writing solid introductions/conclusions, her favorite writing to work with is historical essays and literary narratives. She leaves with this advice for potential and current Writing Fellows: “Being a part of the Writing Center is a great opportunity to meet new people you would not otherwise associate with. Do not take yourself too seriously and remember you are a student, too.” With that being said, we will miss Rachel greatly, especially her bright smile and positive energy she exudes through all that she does. We wish you the best of luck as you transition into the next chapter of your life at Princeton University -- we know you will kill it!
-- By Kylie Madere
Major: International Political Economy
Never spotted without her sneakers tied particularly tightly or sporting a sweeping smile covered with small brackets from her senior-year braces, Sydney Veazie will be missed by every faculty member and student at Episcopal next year. Any person who has met her even briefly knows that she is someone worth spending a few extra moments with. Being a few minutes late to class is worth it when chatting with Sydney, and you will never leave her feeling unloved. Whether on duty or not, her place is always in the Writing Center. She says “(I) never comprehended the impact such a close-knit community could have on a high school girl, not until just recently.” Her writing stands out, and her voice never goes unnoticed, on or off of the paper. In fact, her presence is a force to be reckoned with… in the best way possible. Whether on the dance floor, backstage, center-stage as Madame Hebert, or sitting in the undisturbed opulence of Episcopal’s Writing Center, Sydney is striking. As she moves on to the next four years, she plans to participate in the Writing Center at Fordham University, where she will major in international political economy studies. Fear not, though, she “will never forget the significance the community of the Writing Center offered her through her high school experience, and [she] cannot express gratification to those who helped her enough.”
-- By Morgan Patty
The 2017/2018 Episcopal athletic teams did not disappoint. The players and coaches gave it their all and put up impressive results. Thanks to everyone who supported the teams and cheered them on. Here’s a look back at a great year of Episcopal athletics.
The team fought hard all season and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Team members Caden Dickinson and Cam Dumas were honored with the WBRZ Fan’s Choice Award for their performances on the field. The entire squad was recognized by Cumulus media group as the Team of the Week. Multiple team members will be playing collegiate football for their respective colleges next fall.
The volleyball squad had a tremendous year, finishing the regular season 20 and 13 and earning a first round bye in the postseason. Gracie Veillon was named to the All-Metro team and Emily Mendoza earned Honorable Mention.
The cross country runners continued their dominance in the sport with another state championship season. Head Coach Claney Duplechin was named the 2017 US Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association Coach of the Year, the 2017 Metro Cross Country Coach of the Year and a finalist for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association National Cross Country Coach of the Year.
The swim team truly stepped up this fall. The boys’ team finished second place at the annual state meet in Sulphur. Head Swim Coach Stephen Anderson was also named the All-Metro Boys Coach of the Year. Swimmers Sara Be, Lilli Pellegrin, Ben Levine and Ben Naquin were also named to the All-Metro Team.
What a season the basketball teams delivered!
The girls’ team advanced to the quarterfinals after a successful regular season. Senior Tera Snell reached Episcopal’s 1000 point club and was named to the LHSAA All Star Team. She has signed to play for the Loyola New Orleans Wolf Pack.
The boys’ team had a tremendous regular season and easily advanced to the playoffs. After taking down nationally ranked Riverside Academy the team finished the year as state runner up with an overall record of 33-4. Team leader Cam Dumas was recognized with All State honors and was a member of the LHSAA All Star Team and the Marsh Madness Tournament Team.
Episcopal’s Griffin Dynes placed third in the state wrestling championships after fighting back from the consolation bracket with a 9-1 win. This season Fox Garon secured his first varsity win over Hahnville and William Guffey won his first freshman tournament of the season against Zachary High School.
Celia Kiesel and John Pojman both placed third in the LHSAA regional powerlifting meet. Kolin Bilbrew placed first in the same event. Nicholas Miller earned the title of Best Male Lifter and Savannah York earned the title of Best Female Lifter.
After a tremendous season, the boys’ squad finished as district champions. The team ultimately advanced to the state semifinals to cap off the year. Head Coach Kiran Booluck also earned District IV Coach of the Year honors.
The girls’ soccer team was district runner up and was awarded the Team Ethics and Sportsmanship Award by the United Soccer Coaches. Skylar Yegge also earned the United Soccer Coaches Senior Excellence Award and All Metro honors. Caroline Glynn, Grace Moraes, and Sarah Whisnant were named 1st Team All District.
Both the boys’ and girls’ teams earned the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award.
Track & Field:
The boys’ indoor and outdoor track and field teams both came home state champions. The girls’ outdoor team finished state runner up. Coach Claney Duplechin was named the 2017 Metro Coach of the Year and the US Track and Field Coaches Association Coach of the Year.
The boys’ team finished as regional champions, shooting a 322. John Hayden Wood shot an even par 72 and earned the Regional Individual Champion title. At the state tournament the team finished third with John Hayden Wood earning the Individual State Runner Up title.
The girls’ team finished second overall in the regional tournament with Riely Heaslip shooting a 76 to earn the Regional Individual Runner Up title. The girls also finished first in the Baton Rouge Metro League Championship tournament. Riely Heaslip and Caroline Glynn shot a combined score of 201 to earn the Metro Team Champion title. Heaslip also put up the best score in the field earning her the Metro Individual Champion title. Athletic Director and Coach Randy Richard was named the Girls Golf Metro Coach of the Year.
The boys’ team won the LHSAA regional tournament in Baton Rouge with several singles and doubles groups from both the boys’ and girls’ teams moving on to the state tournament in Monroe. Team members Edward Staib, Femke Maassen-Veeters, Elli SIm, and Casey Rigby earned All Metro honors.
Several members of the baseball team were selected to the 8-AA All-District Team. Congratulations to the following:
The softball squad put together a tremendous season, earning the district championship title! Corinne Talbot, Annslee Bourgeois, Bailey Bourgeois, Emily Mendoza, Sydney Summerville, and Savannah York all earned 1st Team All District honors.
Congratulations to the 2018 Episcopal Female and Male Athletes of the Year!
We look forward to seeing everyone on the sidelines next year. A special thanks to the cheerleaders and drum corps for their support this year. Go Knights!
Home Sweet Home
The PreK-3 construction lesson started by focusing on a building quite familiar to the students – their own home. Students brought in an exterior photo of their home and discussed structural features including shutters, windows, lanterns and doors. They also discussed similarities and differences among each other’s homes.
Ask the Experts
Students had the opportunity to see a neighborhood map when architect/designer and PreK-3 parent Mike Hogstrom spoke to them about the design and building process. In addition, landscape architect/pool designer and PreK-3 parent Jeb Barber spoke to the class about ways to beautify the exterior of a home. Children placed model trees on the project map and had the opportunity to plant flowers of their own. Many even went home and transplanted the flowers to their own yards. The class also learned more from books as teachers read aloud works such as, “How a House is Built” by Gail Gibbons and “Dreaming Up” by Christy Hale.
Students enjoyed the opportunity to test their own building skills as they constructed forts, fairy houses and sand castles, using foam blocks and Legos. They heard the story of the three little pigs and made stick houses on the playground. To end the project, students even had the opportunity to construct mixed media houses to replicate New Orleans artist James Michalopoulos’ bold paintings.
While students certainly had a great time creating their structures, they were also achieving important milestones. Students acquired new vocabulary words, were introduced to new concepts and learned to think of themselves as a part of a larger community.
Over the course of the year, the students have truly gained the building blocks for learning. It won’t be long before they are studying the blocks of the periodic table outside of the Academic Commons!
McMains Children’s Developmental Center studio - 10 students, 5 projects
Flood/Safer Sports studio – 12 students, 9 sports and 6 flood
Tactile Objects studio - 8 students, 4 projects
New Frequencies studio - 5 students, 3 projects
Middle School BattleBots - 12 students, 5 projects
The first year NuVu Design Studio tally is impressive. Students have worked on innovative solutions to reduce the risk of injury associated with fishing, running and golfing. They have developed objects, such as portable toy storage and exercise equipment, to assist those displaced by a natural disaster. They have also created a way for students with limited mobility to throw a ball, sail a boat and participate in daily activities. Along the way, the journey has introduced them to field experts and local professionals. Through trial and error they have had to refine and reimagine original concepts. They have made mistakes and learned from them and even celebrated when the concept worked as planned. They’ve learned to collaborate and cooperate in order to make their dreams a reality. After an exciting fall semester, the momentum continued on into the spring with the recent spring studio showcase.
Spring: A Sensory Experience
Can you imagine generating sound with color, or even fish? This semester’s Design Studio students did just that and more. Students focused the latter portion of the school year on projects involving tactile objects and new frequencies. Like the fall showcase, the projects were innovative and the students were engaged.
“This was different from any other class I’ve taken,” said Davis Singletary. Singletary and Stephen Barker created Sound Pipes, a device that uses color to produce a range of sounds commonly found in nature. “This project was designed to engage the users’ imagination through the use of sound,” wrote Barker in his project brief. Aimed at elementary school children, Sound Pipes allows the user to drop balls of varying color into a PVC pipe outfitted with a color sensor to detect the color. Once detected, an Arduino board and sound software are used to assign the color a corresponding sound inspired by nature. The finished product is easy to use and fun, making it a perfect concept for little hands.
From the beginning, Bailey McLaughlin knew he wanted to incorporate a live animal into his project. That creature ultimately ended up being a fish. Using laser sensors, an Arduino board and sound software, McLaughlin’s Fish Frequencies created a method for making music based on the movement of fish. The prototype, which generates interesting notes when the fish activate the laser, was well received by his classmates, Design Studio coaches and teachers.
The team of Cruz Crawford and Luke Foster produced sound by going big. The two used surgical tubing stretched between outdoor columns to create a large-scale guitar. “This project was built for anyone to enjoy, regardless of whether you are a musician or not. If you like music and like to generate sound by the touch of your fingers put your mind to it and who knows what you can make,” wrote Foster in the project’s brief. The project, labeled the King of Strings, was successful in creating chord sounds and in delighting the Lower School students who tested it.
Another Design Studio team took on gravity for their spring project. Griffin Dynes and Hootie Freeman wanted to create an experience that would allow users to feel the pull of the force on different planets. Thus, the Gravity Table was born. The project involved numerous iterations. “Cultivating ideas for this project resulted in many different ideas, including a vest to simulate weight change on other planets. The idea eventually morphed into a table which held everyday objects such as, a water-bottle, a pencil and a hammer. One after another, cardboard models were broken and re-designed,” wrote Freeman in the project brief. After much experimentation, the team created a decorative, laser-cut box that demonstrates the weight of a hammer on various planets. The team’s stated goal, which was “to make learning about or educating others on gravity a more hands-on experience” was certainly accomplished.
NuVu Design Studio students have achieved so much in only one school year. Providing such a learning experience right here on campus is a fitting complement to the learning that occurs within the traditional classroom. It is a great example of the innovative and thoughtful opportunities that are purposefully made available to Episcopal students every day.
We can’t wait to see what the 2018/2019 Design Studio students create!
Members of the Episcopal Class of 2018 have lovingly referred to the school as a second home, a family and a place they will never forget. For seven seniors this is especially true as they are members of the school’s inaugural PreK-4 class so many years ago. After years at Episcopal, they are now moving on to their next chapter prepared for new opportunities and new adventures. Congratulations!
Members of the PreK-4 Class of 2005 who are graduating seniors of the Class of 2018:
John Daniel Davis
Russ St. Romain
We asked the students to answer two questions about their Episcopal experience. Read below for what they had to say.
1. Beyond learning the color wheel, the difference between their, they’re, and there, how to find the value of x, perfecting my Spanish accent, finding my voice on stage, that my expertise does not flourish on a volleyball team, mastering kinematics equations, learning how to code, the extraordinary uplifting faculty; beyond embracing my God given talents, Episcopal has taught me to believe in myself.
2. The supportive relationships that I have developed at Episcopal have shaped me to become my best true self. Episcopal’s nurturing spirit has prepared me and will propel me to tackle ambitious challenges, and in my heart, I know that no matter how far life takes me, Episcopal will always be my home.
There isn't much needed to be said about Episcopal, all that can be said can be seen just by spending a day within the community. Episcopal is truly something special and I would not trade my time there for anything else. I have met so many wonderful people and gained friendships I believe will last me a lifetime.
--John Daniel Davis
1. My overall experience has been great at Episcopal. I was able to participate in different academic, athletic, and artistic events in my time here that I have enjoyed. I’ve met some friends here that will be lifelong friends, and I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else.
2. This community has shaped me into being a better version of myself ever since I got here. Everyone here has pushed me to where I work hard and do the right thing. I am lucky to have gone to this school my entire life because it has prepared me for just about any obstacle in my way.
1. My journey through Episcopal has been a little unorthodox. I went here from pre-k to sixth grade, and I came back for my senior year. There is just something so unique about the welcoming Episcopal community, and I could not miss out on the opportunity to be a part of it again for my last year of high school. I am so glad I found my way back home, and I realized that there really is no place like Episcopal.
2. Episcopal has helped me develop lifelong friendships, while also providing me with an environment that fosters personal growth and learning. The school’s balance of spiritual, social, academic, artistic and athletic life has pushed me to try new things and have new experiences. I come to school every day knowing that I will be challenged to be the best student I can be in and outside of the classroom, which is an amazing feeling to have. Episcopal has also given me opportunities and connections that I would not have had otherwise. I am so grateful for everything that the school has helped me to accomplish, and I would like to thank my friends, teachers, coaches, and everyone at Episcopal who have supported and guided me throughout the years. Even though I am sad that my time here is coming to an end, it gives me a peace of mind knowing that I will always have the Episcopal community to come back to.
1. My overall Episcopal experience has been fun. I have met a lot of awesome people and made memories that I will never forget.
2. This community has given me a lot of opportunities that I would not have had anywhere else. I have learned a lot from the people I have met during my time here.
--Russ St. Romain
A group of small, eager four year olds begin a new adventure. For most, this is their introduction to “big boy” or “big girl” school. They don uniforms and carry backpacks and report to class for the first time as parents snap photos and swipe away tears. For these students, the transformation has begun.
From those initial days in Frazer Hall onward, children are immersed in an environment of purposeful play. Such an environment is carefully thought out and planned. Teachers Julie Mendes and Lindsay Smith create each lesson so that students feel like they are simply playing, while they are actually learning new concepts and new life skills. Students spend hours in the PreK garden each week planting, digging and caring for vegetation. Centers are set up to foster a sense of play and fun while also encouraging learning. Students learn to cooperate with others and to function as part of a team outside of their family. Fall is also the time to begin developing writing skills and to identify letters and the sounds they make in preparation for reading.
PreK-4 learning is done with the students’ insatiable curiosity and exuberance in mind. Questions and discussions are encouraged and oftentimes take lessons in unexpected directions. For example, a garden lesson on the creatures that live in the soil can easily become a discussion on digging wells for water. In a similar way, a visit from a paramedic can lead to pretend playground rescues as they process what they’ve learned.
The adventure is in full swing with half of the year gone. At this point the development and progression of these little adventurers is astounding. In just a few months, their vocabulary has exploded. They have gone from simply making a mark on a piece of paper to proudly and confidently writing their name and identifying letter sounds. In February, they celebrate a milestone – 100 days of school complete! To commemorate the occasion, students collectively complete 100 acts of kindness in just two weeks. The concept takes off and students continue to recognize each other’s acts of kindness for the remainder of the year.
Students, now wearing monarch butterfly wings, celebrate their own metamorphosis. They show their family members how they can stand on the VPAC stage all in a line and sing songs as a united group. Behind them, a video highlights the year’s adventures. There have been visits from paramedics, doctors, dentists and even a certified K-9 dog. While students will remember the year as fun, parents can rest assured that it has also been a time of significant and meaningful learning.
Students can now express a complete thought or idea through their drawings and writings. They are reading sight words and using new terms. That pesky sleeping mat that was once a challenge for little hands to roll, is now expertly folded and stowed in the cubby each day. They have made friends and learned how and why they should work collaboratively with their peers. They have emerged into the spring as new little people eager to learn more.
It’s no coincidence that Mendes and Smith choose the butterfly cycle as a theme for their students each year. PreK-4 truly is a transformative time in a students’ life with many milestones and achievements to celebrate. Similar to the miracle of a caterpillar emerging as a beautiful butterfly, it is amazing to look back at the changes a PreK-4 student experiences over the course of one school year. Just imagine where they’ll go next!
Our brains, our minds, our thoughts: are we really in control of them? According to psychologists, the answer is both yes and no. While we are aware of the conscious decisions we make everyday, whether it’s the food we eat, the people we talk to, or the clothes we wear, there are thousands of thoughts that our brain does not explicitly process. Sure, these thoughts may be harmless, such as the color of the bird that flies by or the sound of a faint voice in the distance. However, these implicit, hidden thoughts may also be the root of many of the social divisions we experience in our societies. When a stranger walks into a room, what is the first thing we notice? Their hair, their clothes, their skin color, their gender, right? The exterior appearance and the identities that this person carries creates a distinct first impression that settles into our minds.
Implicit bias is defined as the human tendency to group people subconsciously, in accordance with their appearance or how they identify. These biases are essentially inevitable and we are all subject to them, as they are developed through our childhood, our experiences, and our culture. While implicit biases certainly pertain to all aspects of society, one environment in particular has been the focus of my thesis work: the classroom. Students are affected by implicit biases in several ways, in turn, impacting their experiences throughout their time in school and continuing into their adult lives.
A 2003 study conducted by Cornell University in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that students tend to perform in a manner consistent with opinions other people have about their particular race or gender, a phenomenon named stereotype threat. For example, girls who are told that they are bad at math tend to perform worse on a math test than girls who are told the opposite. Imagine a female student in a calculus class. She may feel pressure to perform well due to the stereotype placed on her. This pressure can be as simple as the teacher showing surprise when she answers a difficult question correctly, causing her to fear that any mistake she makes will confirm that stereotype. A 2014 study found that this fear takes up mental energy, making it harder to think on the spot, and emotionally heightens her reaction to mistakes, making her remember the wrong answer as strongly as she would the right answer.
Mary Anne Meeks, a Georgia Southern University researcher conducted a study in 2010 tracking microaggressions experienced by 342 students in a large, diverse high school over the course of four years. The results included students reporting they had experienced a majority of 21 types of microaggressions at least once during their high school careers.
Although my underlying message declares that we, as individuals, are subject to harboring these implicit biases, I want to motivate my peers, teachers, and members of the Episcopal community to keep this in mind going forward and work to counteract the effects. Personally, I’ve found that acknowledging the fact that implicit biases exist within us is already a step in the right direction, in terms of social success and equality. The Implicit Association Test, created by Project Implicit, an organization founded by researchers across the country’s top universities in 1998, provides an opportunity for people to uncover their implicit biases.
In my own experience with the IAT, I was extremely shocked by my results. However, that initial shock and guilt motivated me to reflect upon the way I approach my world. This reflection, I believe, has allowed me to be a more conscientious and understanding human being. I hope I can instill similar individual reflection by passing along this awareness to those in our close-knit Episcopal community.
Once we can acknowledge these biases, we can do everything in our power to limit its effects in our society, allowing all of us, regardless of gender, race, or appearance, to approach our world with an open-minded and accepting perspective.
Heeya Munir has attended Episcopal since the sixth grade. She will graduate with Honors on May 19, 2018. In addition to her involvement in the Thesis program, she participates in cross country, is the Co-Editor of the 2017-2018 Accolade Yearbook, Co-President of the Mock Trial team, and Founder of the Calligraphy Club. She will attend Tulane University in the fall of 2018, majoring in psychology on a pre-medicine track.
The Episcopal Writing Center is a special place. Fellows form lifelong bonds. In keeping with tradition, this year’s underclassmen wrote Senior Tributes highlighting the graduating fellows and the impact they’ve had on the program.
George Washington University
Major: Political Science
Having dedicated her time and effort to the helping others in the Episcopal Writing Center, Erin Alpandinar is always there to greet students with a smile. Erin was inspired to become a Writing Fellow during sophomore year because she enjoys helping others become more confident in their writing skills. Erin’s motivations as a Writing Fellow are very admirable, and any students who have worked with her are surely grateful for her dedication and her goal to help writers gain confidence in writing. Her favorite papers to work on with students are research papers and papers for history classes. In addition to her flexibility to work with different types of papers, Erin’s strengths lie in her ability to organize and help students find a major claim so that they can successfully plant it throughout the paper. Erin’s experience as a Writing Fellow has given her many valuable opportunities, and among these, she has been able to make unexpected friendships and develop skills that she will use in her future. These skills will not only enhance her writing, but also her ability to communicate, reflect, and tutor. During her time as a writing fellow, some of Erin’s best memories come from the retreat days that happen every year in August that combine all the new Writing Fellows and returning ones. At these annual gatherings, she has been able to hang out with the other returning Writing Fellows, and also make connections with the new Fellows. When asked what advice she would give to new writing fellows or students who are thinking about applying to the Writing Center, she said: “Don’t be intimidated if you are tutoring someone older than you, and utilize the space because it is cozy and good for studying, even if you are not a Writing Fellow.”
Erin, we appreciate your contributions to the Writing Center and all of your devotion and time spent helping students develop lifelong writing skills.
--by Maia Adams
Texas A&M University
Major: Mechanical Engineering/MBA
Originally, Charles Barksdale joined the Writing Fellows program in order to emulate the success his sister Mary Beth had in the Writing Center during her high school career. Nonetheless, as Charles discusses in his thesis entitled The Argument for Taking Risks: A New Approach to Adolescent Risk-Taking, practicing taking healthy risks is beneficial to the teen mind, and becoming a fellow certainly is a nerve-racking risk, one that pushes its members’ boundaries socially and academically. However, as time progressed, Charles became comfortable with being a Fellow and excelled in advancing the outreach that the Writing Center has to date.
Unconventional compared to most Fellows, Charles spent most of his writing journey at Episcopal outside of the actual Writing Center, gaining experience in ways outside of formal appointments. As a member at large of the football team, Charles spread his knowledge of and enthusiasm for writing to fellow team members. Eventually, after becoming a Fellow, Charles was booked consistently throughout the years by freshmen football players who were otherwise hesitant to make appointments in the Writing Center with other students.
As for future Writing Fellows, Charles recommends that they strive to be comfortable in themselves: it will make both them and the people they tutor feel like they gained viable information from their appointments. Additionally, Fellows should not be afraid to take on a piece of writing that is in a genre they don’t come into contact with frequently. Charles admires the fact that the Writing Center welcomes just about any type of writing.
-- By Mason LaFerney
Louisiana State University - Honors College
Morgan Bernard is exemplary of the Writing Fellow program to everyone around her. Even on her worst day, she could still devote time, care, and attention to every tutoring opportunity, while also maintaining a strong academic work ethic. For several years, students could always find her in the Writing Center, doing homework on the couch, talking to friends, or helping a student. She was good at her work because she believed that writing brought out the best in her and she wanted to share that with other people. Morgan especially liked to revise creative writing projects and argumentative essays. She was always incredibly calm with her clients and made sure they felt in control. Morgan was aware of her responsibilities as a Writing Fellow and made sure that she wasn’t concerned with the final grade that any paper received but rather with the progress the writer showed. The skill that Morgan displayed also benefitted her by making her better able to explain writing concepts and techniques. She was also a very organized fellow. Her most distinct memory, in fact, was a conversation between Alyssa Macaluso, Hallie Sternberg, Mrs. Spaht, and her about which planners are best and why. Morgan’s skill at her work and her enjoyment at its completion strongly reinforced her commitment to the position. Though being a Fellow is a lot of work, Morgan advises people who are familiar with its challenges to try it. She always believes that her job was rewarding and thinks that others will feel the same as long as they take the job seriously.
Thank you for being a part of the writing community at Episcopal. You made a lasting impact on the quality of writing at our school.
-- By Thomas Hugenroth
Louisiana State University
Nearing the end of her freshman year, Elizabeth Kharoba pondered whether to become a Writing Fellow. She had always loved to help others improve themselves, and wanted to improve her writing, as well. The decision was an easy one, and she has been a Writing Fellow ever since. She assisted her peers with their writing assignments, and especially loved working with creative writing or literary analyses. She worked best at helping with thought organization and idea development, and ensuring that clients felt welcomed and comfortable. All throughout high school, she developed friendships with her clients and other Writing Fellows, and enhanced her people skills along the way. The Writing Center opened many doors for her, providing a comfortable place, new friends to mingle with, and the ability to learn more about herself. This year, Elizabeth loved tutoring the seventh graders with short stories and getting a chance to see all the potential talent the Upper School can look forward to while preparing these students for high school level writing. She is hopeful that this early introduction to the Writing Center will inspire some of them to seek information about how it works and apply to be Fellows themselves, just as she inspired me. I remember talking to Elizabeth at cheer practice for advice on becoming a Fellow. I was scared that I would not be a good tutor or would not get the position. She told me, “Just do it, I know you can!”, and proceeded to describe all about her experiences and encounters there. She likewise faced a fear of applying, but has since had no regrets of proceeding with the process.
I am so thankful to you, Elizabeth, for pushing me to believe in myself. Thank you for helping me through it all. Thank you for your varied contributions. Thank you for being a Writing Fellow, for being yourself, and for being my friend.
-- By Sarah Collier
We are excited to celebrate members of the Class of 2018 as they make their college enrollment decisions. Congratulations!