On August 13, 2016, many people in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas awoke to water rushing into their homes in what was later referred to as the 100-Year Flood. Media outlets reported that more than 30,000 people were rescued and about 110,000 homes were damaged in the Baton Rouge area, totaling approximately $20.7 billion in damage. The reports of Harvey’s devastation in Houston and other areas of Texas and southwestern Louisiana are eerily familiar to those from our own city just one year ago.
Children and teens exposed to natural disaster might experience a range of emotional and psychological reactions, including sleep disturbance, anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, developmental regression, and withdrawal from friends and family. Parental and peer support are key to the recovery process. Here are some ways to help children cope with the aftermath of a natural disaster:
For additional resources, you can visit the following sites:
American Psychological Association’s Help Center for Disasters & Terrorism - http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/disaster/index.aspx
American Red Cross, “Recovering Emotionally” - http://www.redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recovery-services/recovering-emotionally#During-the-Holidays
FEMA, Helping Children Cope with Disaster - https://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/children.pdf
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.
2014 Episcopal Valedictorian
Former Class President, football trainer and tennis player
Current B.S.E. of Biomedical Engineering, Candidate
Class of 2018
For Megan, preeclampsia research happened organically because of the connection she formed with the leading professor, who shared real life experiences and made the topic relevant to her students. This motivated Megan, who then embraced the topic, which naturally fits with her ultimate goal of becoming a physician.
Megan always liked science and problem solving. She says Episcopal prepared her for further studies because of the emphasis on critical thinking and independence that teaches you to synthesize thoughts on your own. Looking back at her time here, Megan says tackling the 18 month Episcopal thesis program prepared her for anything. Because of that thesis experience, she never shied away from a few months of research or a semester long project at Tulane. Stephen Anderson, Megan’s thesis advisor and Episcopal’s Math Department Chair, says he’s not surprised to see Megan already making her mark. “Megan’s desire to make a difference in the world was obvious then when I was advising her Honors Thesis on homelessness four years ago. I am thrilled to see her continuing to pursue her passion to make a positive difference in the world.”
Now that she’s approaching college graduation in the spring, Megan has the following advice to offer today’s Upper School students:
If you are coming into high school and know that you are passionate about something, go for it. If it is not available to you, then be the person who makes it available.
Be involved. Do as much as possible.
Push yourself. Episcopal teachers are more than willing to help and they are experts in their field who are passionate about what they do and how they can help you.
Megan offers her sincere thanks to everyone at Episcopal who helped her along the way. She says because of the school’s focus on independent growth and learning she immediately knew how to be responsible for the lab and her own experiments. When asked about a favorite memory as a Knight, Megan recalls her junior year when she was tasked with planning prom. That year, prom was to be held outdoors and Megan worried about having a rain plan. The advice she received was to pray for no rain. She remembers how that simple guidance paid off and the rain didn’t begin until the event was over.
It is that sense of faith, fearlessness and passion that Episcopal instills in students, whether they are aware of it or not. Now, as Megan nears graduation this spring, four years after beginning her college journey, she eagerly looks forward to the next chapter. Her plans include applying to medical school, where she’ll continue to hone the skills and traits imparted to her while still on Woodland Ridge.
No doubt, she will make an impact in whatever she does. We wish you all the best Megan. Your alma mater is proud!
Are you an Episcopal alumni? We’d love to hear your story. Contact us here.
The first time I heard about One Word goal setting was from my smart, inspiring sister-in-law. The basic idea? Instead of using time-oriented, achievable, measurable goals as inspiration, choose just one word to focus on, to become a personal motto, a mantra, something that captures your passion.
This year, I decided to start the school year with a One Word activity. After explaining my choice to my students (POSITIVE), I asked them to pick a word for themselves. They wrote an explanation for the word they’d selected, giving me a quick way to gauge where they are as writers. As is always the case with meaningful writing, they showed me much more than their knowledge of punctuation and sentence structure.
They showed me their insight. One student chose SMILE as her word. “When I am happier,” she writes, “I accomplish more.”
As I rushed to get the last of the words displayed in time for Parents Night, it occurred to me that it’s not just my students who are entering a new phase of life. Parenting middle school children seems to require a new set of skills, a host of new strategies. Our children are growing and stretching themselves right into young adulthood, and what worked effectively just yesterday can seem like a lesson in futility today.
As parents of middle school kids, what one word might we choose? Honestly, there’ve been days my best inner pep talk boiled down to this: SURVIVE. So I asked three of my favorite moms what one word they’d suggest.
Mary Ellen Stickle, my book-loving aunt from Pennsylvania, has ushered three boys into adulthood. Even though some of the struggles they faced in middle school were things she thought she’d want to forget, she now sees them as stepping stones to the men they are today. Try to view struggles as accomplishment.
Simone O’Connor, a clinical social worker who’s been working with adolescents for years, recommends the word accept. Learn to accept the mood swings and inconsistencies of your middle schooler rather than fighting against them.
Carrie Sheppard offers this practical parenting hack: Find humor in the chaos. “If I don’t laugh,” she says, “I will cry.”
If you’re a new middle school parent, welcome. I wish you years of laughter.
Martha Guarisco is a National Board Certified English Language Arts teacher and freelance writer. Prior to joining the faculty at Episcopal 13 years ago, she taught in Ascension Parish, where she was Teacher of the Year. She earned both her BA in English literature and her M.Ed. in English education from Louisiana State University. One of her particular areas of recent study is literature’s effect on adolescents’ empathy development.
Tucked behind the VPAC and Frazer Hall lies a hidden garden where wonder and imagination bloom for our PreK-4 students. This space serves as an outdoor learning environment where children learn responsibility and experience science first-hand.
Last Friday, parents and students descended on the garden, wheeling wagons of fresh herbs, flowering plants and loads of soil and pea gravel to bring life back into the garden. Working side by side, families came together, weeding, planting and designing the new space. After the morning’s work was complete, everyone enjoyed refreshments and a time of fellowship to meet the newest members of the Episcopal community.
Now that the garden is complete, students will spend an hour of their academic block outside tending to their garden. A generous $500 grant awarded by Studentreasures Publishing allowed new equipment to be purchased this year. Over the course of the year, students will learn to care for plants, observe life cycles, study light and color, and experience hands-on science in this beautiful space that they have created together with their families. With hard work and patience, the learners will experience lots of success, some failure, but most importantly pride, as they watch the fruits of their labor grow and blossom this year.
Julie Mendes, a 2001 graduate of Episcopal, returned to teach Pre-K4 at her alma mater in 2012. She received both her undergraduate degree and MEd in elementary education at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. After teaching second grade in a Dual Language program in Texas public schools for three years, Julie moved abroad to teach first grade at a bilingual school in Gracias, Lempira Honduras. Julie enjoys teaching alongside some of her former teachers and seeing what life is like on the other side of the desk.
These have been strange days. There has been a mixture of emotions as we have watched the events around Hurricane Harvey unfold. On the one hand hoping and praying that Harvey kept his distance from us, and on the other hand having our hearts break as we watch others go through what we went through just a year ago.
In the Church we often talk about being of “one body.” It is a term that connects us to others in ways that we cannot always explain. In Romans 12, from the readings for next week, Paul writes, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another.” We are one body. What affects one of us, affects all of us. We connect with those people affected by Harvey in a unique and genuine way. In our case, it is empathy that we feel, not merely sympathy.
An aerial view from a Missouri National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the effects of flooding in Valley Park, Mo., Dec. 30, 2015. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, Army Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general of the state's National Guard, and members of an emergency management team flew in the helicopter to view the devastation. Missouri Army National Guard photo by Cpl. Alex Flynn
There will be much to do in the days, weeks, and even years to come. We are already working through channels in the affected Episcopal dioceses and SAES, the Southwestern Association of Episcopal Schools, to see how we as a school can help right now.
If you are looking for ways to help those in need, click here for a message from the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana and Bishop Morris K. Thompson, Jr. Right now for most of us, donations seem to be the most effective way to help. Please find an organization that you know and trust to help those in need. There will certainly be efforts and opportunities through Episcopal in the future.
Please join us in prayer as we ask for God’s blessings, healing, and peace in the time ahead for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
The Rev. Kirkland "Skully"Knight
The Rev. Kirkland “Skully” Knight has served in Episcopal schools for 24 years. The first ten were spent as a teacher and coach with the last thirteen as a teacher and chaplain. Skully has been at the Episcopal School of Baton Rouge since 2011 and serves as the Senior Chaplain and Associate Head of School for Service Learning. Skully earned his bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and his M. Div. from The University of the South at Sewanee. He has been married to his wife, Mary Sue, for 23 years and they have two daughters, Emily who is a senior and Katie who is in 9th grade.
Cleaning, labeling and organizing. This was the task placed before a group of Episcopal ninth graders who recently spent part of their Upper School retreat time volunteering at Melrose Elementary on Valcour Drive in Baton Rouge. Their work is part of a much bigger effort – bringing together children from different areas of our city to help them find common ground and connect in meaningful ways.
The Episcopal School of Baton Rouge/Melrose Elementary School partnership has encouraged camaraderie between students and teachers from the two institutions for many years now. While the partnership initially included only the Episcopal Lower School, it quickly morphed into a service learning opportunity for the other divisions as well. Children from both schools enjoy the opportunity to interact with their peers, whether it’s through school supply drives, planned sharing times or even providing assistance with school work.
One of the most exciting projects is the annual Easter egg hunt that is organized by Episcopal Lower School students for Melrose Pre-K and Kindergarten students. In advance of the event, our students collect hundreds of eggs, organize and deliver them to Melrose where they hide them for the younger children. The egg hunt has a lasting impact on the students, with this year’s ninth grade volunteers recounting memories of their own involvement with the project when they were younger.
I have had the fortunate and unique experience of being an Episcopal student, a Melrose staff member and now the Episcopal Lower School Counselor. During my time at Melrose, I remember seeing my Episcopal friends on campus. Now that I am here at Episcopal, it is especially meaningful for me to team up with Lower School Religion Teachers Laura Portwood and Sam Oakley on this partnership. It is a significant growth opportunity for everyone to connect and share. All involved have found the partnership invaluable.
Currently, Lower School is collecting school supplies to help our Melrose friends get off to a great start this year. If you would like to donate, please send supplies to school with your child. Students will have the opportunity to present their contributions at Morning Meeting. At the beginning of September, Mrs. Oakley’s fifth graders will load the supplies and hand deliver them to Melrose. This is usually a great experience for our students, who later reflect on and share how this act of kindness impacted them.
Sharing, mentoring and growing. While the ninth grade retreat day volunteers may have thought they were only doing a little, there was so much more taking place. We look forward to another year of continued partnership with Melrose.
Thank you for your support! #StrongeruKnighted
Sara is a licensed clinical social worker. Before joining the Episcopal community as the Lower School Counselor, she was a School Based Therapist with Capital Area Human Services District. She worked at Melrose for seven years. This is her seventh year at Episcopal.
Gone are the days of taking the ACT or SAT once and simply submitting your college application. Today’s Upper School students practice and prepare for the exams well in advance, with many of them taking the tests three or four times. At Episcopal, our team’s approach is focused on making the college application process more manageable for students and their families. In the end, we never want students to feel like they missed important information about the opportunities available.
As a college preparatory school, we must be competitive nationally. This means our students must be equipped to compete for and be awarded hefty scholarships or be positioned well to earn acceptance to highly selective institutions. Historically, Episcopal seniors have done just this by achieving a 100% college acceptance rate, including to elite universities, such as MIT, Harvard and Yale. Click here to see the 2017 college admission results.
To keep this momentum going our three college counselors - Shandi Fazely, Jody Kennard and I - begin working with students in the eighth grade and continue meeting with them throughout their time at Episcopal. Once a quarter, students and counselors discuss Upper School class choices and how these correlate to the goal of being accepted to the colleges and universities of their choice. Counselors also provide evening sessions for students and parents, where we cover an array of college-related concerns including financial aid planning, application trends, athletics and test preparation.
This year, our team is launching a partnership with Baton Rouge-based MasteryPrep to boost the school’s test prep offerings. The goal of this partnership is to foster more test awareness among the students and boost students’ overall scores. In addition, many of our Episcopal students and families are spending money and time on test preparations outside of the school day. This partnership will help us give families back those resources and provide students more time to focus on other areas of interest.
MasteryPrep provides our Upper School students with 30 minute sessions once a week during their College Block designated time. Students participate in test prep boot camps and take mini-tests throughout the year to help them become familiar with the real testing experience. After taking a mini-test, students then view a video tutorial on each question which explains the most effective strategy for choosing the correct answer. The importance of time management during test taking is also emphasized throughout the prep and during the practice tests. To prevent last minute test cramming, material learned over the course of the student’s school career is reviewed in intervals over time. This type of test preparation is what sets Episcopal apart in this region and puts us on par with similar schools across the country.
MasteryPrep reports that they have helped more than 250,000 students in 600 schools improve their ACT score, with more than 50 percent of the students seeing a three point increase or more. The program was created by Craig Gehring, who earned a perfect score on both the ACT and the SAT 14 years ago.
We hope you will take full advantage of everything our counseling services have to offer. For more information please click here.
Justin Fenske joined Episcopal as the Director of College Counseling in 2014 and has been in the field since 2008. Justin graduated from the University of Michigan and earned a Master’s in Education from Boston University. During his time at Episcopal, his team has implemented a comprehensive high school program priding itself on individual attention to students in all grade levels. Justin is a certified Highlands Ability Battery consultant and has also spent time developing and implementing online career and college tools for high school students in the state of Michigan and as an administrator at Boston University.
This year’s Knights football team is looking forward to a great season with experienced players returning and a lengthy roster of others excited to make a difference on the field. The Knights have fifteen seniors, including All District players Caden Dickinson and Howell Eglin to lead the team, pushing themselves and others to do their best. We are gearing up for some exciting extras to boost fan spirit including First In Night on September 1st, recognizing first responders and members of the military. (Don’t miss the chance to check out the fire truck donated by the state of Louisiana to New York after the events of September 11th - it will be on hand to mark this occasion!) In addition, the other home games will host events like Fall Sports Appreciation Night, Junior Cheer Night featuring our youngest Knights supporters, Homecoming, and Senior Night.
The girls’ volleyball team has already taken to the court under the leadership of our new Head Coach, Madeline Gugich, who joined Episcopal after five years at Zachary High School. Madeline leads a team that has come together with excitement and skill. Look for seniors Femke Maassen-Veeters, Emily Mendoza, and junior Gracie Veillion to make a big impact throughout the year.
The Episcopal swim teams look to make waves this season with their eyes on the city and state meets. Boys’ team seniors Marcus Botos, Elliott Kellam, Jack Melton and Jackson Sides should make a splash this fall along with Marjie Williams and Lindsey Weinstein on the girls’ team, who hope to keep last year’s state runner up momentum going.
As always, the Episcopal cross country crew has high expectations for a great season. The first event of the new season is set for September 2nd at West Feliciana and then all eyes will be on Highland Road Park September 9th for the 39th Annual Episcopal Round Table Run. This fun event even features a public fun run if you’d like to join in! Look for Graham Frazier, Kenny Schafer, Adele Broussard and Mary Kathryn Underwood to set some fast times throughout the season.
A big thank you to all of our committed coaches and staff; these folks spend countless hours and commit 100% to our students and their development. We take great pride in providing our students a range of athletic opportunities to enhance their academic experiences here at Episcopal.
We invite all of you to join us in cheering on our student athletes this year.
Click here to review the 2017-2018 sports schedule.
Parking for football games.
Lot 18, behind the concession stand is closed due to construction and the lane and parking spaces immediately off the stadium bleachers will be closed to thru traffic. Those spaces will be reserved for handicapped tag parking, our security and medical staff working the game, referees, visiting team buses and equipment trailers, and our coaches’ families. The driving lane nearest the Main Gym will serve as a two way lane to enter and exit our parking lot, with a turn around being achieved by driving through to the baseball lot and making the loop. You are welcome to park along Woodland Ridge, but please be mindful of our neighbors.
Randy is in his second year as Athletic Director at Episcopal School of Baton Rouge. Randy is from Baton Rouge and attended Catholic High School before moving to Ruston to earn a degree in education from Louisiana Tech University. Since joining Episcopal in 2002, Randy has served in many capacities including Dean of Students, the Physical Education Department Chair, teacher, and coach for a variety of boy’s and girl’s upper school athletic teams.
Lower School children are accustomed to the adults in their lives telling them what to learn, what to study and when. This begins to change when students reach sixth grade.
Middle School students are given the power of choice when it comes to the elective courses they wish to study. Choice for students of this age is very important and can have a significant impact on them, making them more connected with and engaged in what they are learning. As eighth grade student Analise explained, she was “super excited” when she was asked to make choices about her coursework in preparation for sixth grade. Analise wanted to experience much of what Episcopal has to offer, so she enrolled in dance, drama, band, Nature by Design, musical theater and French. She also ran cross country and track and played soccer and volleyball as she explored our Athletic Program.
Allowing students the power of choice with electives exposes them to new experiences that could lead to unexpected results. For Analise, this occurred in the Nature by Design course, which initially made her nervous because it was unknown territory for her. Eventually, she surprised herself when her design knowledge grew and she created a rain stick that earned high marks from the teacher and boosted her expectations of what she could achieve.
Over the course of her time at Episcopal, Analise has discovered a love for theater and plans to continue studying drama into Upper School. This is common among our Middle School students as they learn more about their interests through exposure. Because of the excitement and passion generated by this sense of discovery, most students go well beyond the arts elective requirements needed to graduate.
Episcopal sixth and seventh graders select four arts electives per year, with classes taught once per quarter. Course requirements may differ depending upon the students’ focus, such as band or choir. Eighth graders, who move to a semester schedule, select two arts electives per year. Because the courses are offered multiple times throughout the year, we are able to accommodate most students’ desired choices.
Arts are a pillar of an Episcopal education. We believe that students benefit from the creative expression and emotional outlet provided by studying the arts. In addition, these electives help students develop empathy and teamwork skills, which are critical in the development of middle schoolers. Episcopal employs professional actors, directors, producers, dancers and composers to teach their craft to our students. This level of talent and experience sets us apart in arts education and allows us the opportunity to offer a variety and depth of experiences that are second to none.
At Episcopal we also understand the importance of being a global citizen and what that means as far as exposure to world languages. Because of this, Middle School students also have the power to choose which world language they want to explore. Our Middle and Upper School language teachers are passionate about other cultures and provide courses in French, Latin or Spanish. For Analise, the choice was French and she has been pleased with that decision.
The Episcopal School of Baton Rouge’s mission is to nurture and develop the whole child -- spiritually, intellectually, morally, physically and artistically -- through challenging academic and co-curricular programs which prepare graduates for college and for purposeful lives. Providing our students with the power to choose and delve further into the arts and world languages fits well with this goal. To learn more about the elective and world language courses offered at Episcopal and how they can enhance your child’s school experience, we invite you to schedule a visit with us today.
holds a B.A. degree in English from Millsaps College and a M.Ed. degree from Louisiana State University in school counseling. Additionally she maintains credentials as a Licensed Professional Counselor. After one year of teaching in the East Baton Rouge Parish School system, she joined Episcopal’s high school faculty in 1979. She has served Episcopal in a variety of capacities: high school English teacher, Upper School Counselor, Upper School Division Head, middle school English teacher, School Counselor, and her current role, Middle School Division Head. Throughout her tenure of leadership in the Middle School, she has taught sixth grade religion. She is the proud parent of two Episcopal alumni.
Imagine Greer auditorium packed with smiling, eager young faces dressed in fresh uniforms and ready to explore their world. This was the scene at the first Lower School Morning Meeting of the 2017/2018 school year. As the drum beat the cue to sit quietly and focus on the speaker a small, glowing woman took center stage. This is Sam Oakley, Episcopal’s new Lower School Religion Teacher.
Mrs. Oakley delivered a message befitting the promise of a new beginning:
“Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago. Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already – you can see it now.”
Isaiah 43:18-19b (GNT)
In this verse, God tells us not to cling to the events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago. Maybe last year didn’t go as well as you had hoped. Maybe you struggled a little bit more than you wished in your friendships. Maybe you had a hard time keeping up with all that you were learning. Maybe you had a hard time remembering the ways that we show respect to our teachers and our classmates. That was last year. This is a new year. You can leave behind and say goodbye to whatever things you may have struggled with last year and trust that your teachers are here to help this year be a different and good story.
God reminds us that he is already doing a new thing for us. As you look around at the bulletin boards on the hallways and enter your new teachers’ classrooms, you can see that a new thing is already happening. You have new teachers and new classmates, and you will learn together so many new things. You will make new friends. You will learn how to care for all of those around you – students and teachers – in ways that show you respect them and are thankful for them. You will take what you have learned here back to your homes and your families, who are looking forward to watching you grow and learn this year.
As the students looked on, Mrs. Oakley shared that Dr. Seuss is one of her favorite authors.
In his book, I Can Read with My Eyes Shut, the older cat brags to the younger cat about how he can read so well that he can even read with his eyes shut. But, throughout the book, the older cat says, “There are so many things you can learn about but you will miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut…Keep your eyes wide, keep them wide open…If you keep your eyes open enough, oh the stuff you will learn! The most wonderful stuff!”
So, together, let’s take the advice of the Cat in the Hat and keep our eyes wide open, looking forward to the new and great things that are going to happen this year, and let’s hold on to those memories and celebrate them together as we commit ourselves to making a difference in the world.
Here at Episcopal we are excited about the new school year. We invite you to be an active participant in our community, whether you are a parent volunteer, a grade level representative or a proud grandparent cheering on your student. Please keep in touch with your child’s teacher and support your child’s progress in their learning journey.
Meet Sam Oakley
Before joining Episcopal this year, Sam Oakley previously served as the Associate Director of the Center for Family and Community Ministries at Baylor University. While at Baylor she conducted research, developed resources, and edited a journal. She received her M.S.W. and M.Div. from Baylor University. Sam is married to David Oakley, who serves as the Youth and Children’s Minister at Broadmoor Baptist Church. Together they have three children: Elijah, Taylor, and Sadie.