The Baton Rouge market offers a plethora of options for families seeking an independent school education for their children. Digesting information and comparing schools can be a daunting and time-consuming task. When meeting with prospective families, I often jokingly compare the preschool admission experience to the college admission experience – so many options, varying processes, and each school with its own programs, deadlines and requirements! Where do you start?
We encourage parents to begin by considering the factors that are most important to their family. Are you in search of a spiritual or faith-based school? Do you have an opinion regarding school size? Do you want your child to have frequent exposure to classes in music, art and world language? Once you identify the schools that match your family’s requirements and interests, you’ll likely want to dig a bit deeper. What’s the school’s educational philosophy? What is their curricular approach? What are the student-to-teacher ratios? Are the students involved in any type of service to our community? How does the school support students through the college selection and application process?
Beyond all of these questions there is good news; the volume of school choices available in Baton Rouge positions each family to find the school that is the best fit for their child. While parents often rely on the advice and opinions of others who previously embarked on the journey to an independent school, I caution you from using this as your only method of research. Each child is unique and each family has their own lens through which they evaluate schools. Sharing spreadsheets, stories, and contacts is an excellent way to gather information. But seeing is believing. If you do nothing else through this process, I encourage you to visit the campus of each school you are considering. The campus visit is your firsthand opportunity to determine if the school you now know on paper comes to life as a fit for your child. While you may find it helpful to have a list of questions to ask during your visit, also be observant as you explore campus: Do the children seem engaged? Do the teachers and staff appear to enjoy their work? Do your surroundings suggest an active and happy school? Perhaps there are other observations that can help you assess the school’s ability to serve your family.
If you are interested in visiting Episcopal to explore how we might be a fit for your child, I invite you to join us for Test Drive Tuesday. We look forward to meeting you and learning more about your family!
Where can you kayak, learn to fly fish, test your physical fitness and have fun all at the same time? Episcopal physical education classes offer all of this and so much more.
At Episcopal, our physical education teachers work hand-in-hand with classroom teachers to extend project based learning onto the court, the track or trail and even into the pool. Our goal is to get kids moving, expose them to new activities, and encourage them to do their best while having a great time.
We achieve this by finding creative ways to infuse what many think of as PE with classroom learning. For example, we play Spell Checker Tag using the students’ spelling words of the week. Students must correctly spell a word to be unfrozen once tagged. We also play math games that students solve to determine which activity they’ll do on our exercise wall.
We’ve tagged the middle of the week as Wellness Wednesday. On these days we focus on our fitness goals and work throughout the year to achieve them. Over the course of the year we track students’ progress and celebrate with them as they build stamina and endurance. Since the implementation of Wellness Wednesday five years ago, we have seen an overall increase in the students’ fitness levels and an “I can do it” attitude among those who have worked hard to reach their goal.
Physical education is not limited to the playing field. Our instructors play a vital role in the project based learning activities for each Lower School grade level. The Healthy Selves project introduces first graders to everything from first aid tips to the annual mini-triathlon which has them biking, running and swimming. We help the second graders bring Charlotte’s Web to life each fall with a country fair, complete with horse lassoing, sack and wheelbarrow racing and a friendly game of horse shoes. Each spring our students become NASA astronauts for the day, donning “spacesuits” and participating in agility, balance, endurance, strength and flexibility stations. In third grade we teach students the fun of Cajun dancing during their Louisiana studies and in the fourth grade we promote outdoor adventure during the National Parks study unit.
Dear Bristol School Spanish Exchange Students,
Episcopal School of Baton Rouge thanks you for visiting Woodland Ridge. We hope you enjoyed your stay as much as we enjoyed having you here among us. We know that crossing an ocean and living among new people may be overwhelming, so we hope that we made you feel at ease and welcome.
We hope you enjoyed experiencing our school culture, from attending classes with us and cheering on our volleyball team to working together in our new NuVuX Design Studio. We hope our trips to the Atchafalaya Basin, Tiger Stadium and the French Quarter also gave you a true feel for life in Louisiana. Our culture is known for great food and friendly faces and we hope you remember that fondly.
Corresponding with you before and after the exchange has been great for us and we look forward to continuing the friendships we have forged across the miles. Our teachers say our Spanish has improved and they can see an appreciation and excitement for a new culture budding within us.
We look forward to visiting you this February in Madrid. What a wonderful opportunity it will be for us to fully immerse ourselves in your culture, language and life! While we know what we’ve seen on TV or in the movies or what our teachers have told us here at Episcopal, we’re confident there’s nothing like experiencing another culture first-hand. We look forward to sharpening our Spanish skills and adapting to new experiences with the same enthusiasm you showed while practicing your English and experiencing America.
Exchanges such as this one serve us all well as we strive to understand each other in a more connected, diverse world. There is so much more to learn than proper pronunciation, grammar and punctuation. Exchanges open our minds to other ways of life and in so doing also teach us more about our own.
We now feel connected to people and a culture far removed from our own. We know that a laugh or a smile are universal. Teenage issues transcend language barriers and time zones. We truly are part of a global community. Ultimately, isn’t connection and camaraderie what we all strive to achieve when embarking on such an adventure?
Until February, we’ll keep practicing Spanish and preparing for the second half of our journey together. Thank you for sharing your culture and language with us. We can’t wait to see you again!
The Episcopal Knights Community
Stupendous – causing astonishment or wonder; of amazing size or greatness – Stupendous.
Episcopal third graders took to the VPAC stage in feathers, lights, costumes and even mom’s high heels to celebrate the seventh annual Vocabulary Parade, and it was in a word - stupendous. The parade was inspired by a study of author Debra Frasier’s work. In her book “Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster” students explore misunderstandings that often arise in the world of words. Fortunately, there were no misunderstandings among the Episcopal students who had much to accomplish in their extravagant attire.
Bioluminescent. Cumulonimbus. Lackadaisical. Tardigrade. These are examples of the words chosen by Episcopal eight year olds. The students were tasked with properly pronouncing each word and delivering the definition before a full VPAC audience. In a task befitting a parade, the students also created costumes to communicate the meaning of their chosen term. How does one dress as confection or an algorithm?
In the end, the experience expanded the minds and vocabulary of the participants, and was great fun for observers as well. Surely the students will fondly remember actually being the word popcorn, magical or x-ray as they advance in reading and writing.
It brings a whole new meaning to having a word-of-the-day!
The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.
Because I’m a trained scientist, and more specifically an environmental scientist, when I hear the word ‘community’ I think of an ecological community. In an ecological community, living species are interacting with each other both with like species and different species. For example, in a grasslands community, grasses and shrubs provide food for the grasshopper and the rabbit. However, these animals move around and take only what they need to ensure that the grasses can survive. These species are also interacting with nonliving things like the water, air, and soil. All in all, this community is bound together by the network of influences that species have on one another. They live in this perfect balance, so that everyone can thrive. I want to focus on just that, how we are ‘bound together’ in this network and how our actions influence other species and affect this balance. In other words, what we put into our community, and what we take out of our community.
What we take out of our community:
Growing up, I was a part of a small tight-knit community in the center of San Antonio, Texas. My area was called Alamo Heights (Heights for short). It was here where I learned to ride a bike, throw a softball, and make mistakes, tons of mistakes. Heights was a safe place where I was never afraid to be myself. Alamo Heights created this environment of love and support for everyone, so I never felt like it wasn’t okay to be me. It’s important to know, also, that 90% of the students I started school with when I was four years old in kindergarten, I eventually graduated with senior year. So everyone knew everyone. And everyone’s parents knew everyone. Which is sometimes a good thing, and sometimes a bad thing. However, over the years, my family grew from just five people, to a hundred. My friends’ parents became my parents, their brothers became my brothers, and I could go to them for comfort, love and support.
Sometimes, though, our community isn’t always like this. Sometimes a community can be seen as a place of discrimination and hate. Last year, as I was reading news articles and browsing social media, I came across an article about a student who had been bullied at Alamo Heights. He was a sophomore at the time, and the bullying became so bad, that he ended up taking his own life. When I read this, and heard of what the other students were doing to this kid, I was appalled. All I could think was, this is NOT the community I grew up in. This is not a community of comfort, love, and support. And this is certainly NOT a safe place anymore. Hearing this news made me really sad, and I even took that from my community, I took sadness.
What we put into our community:
This brings me to what we put into our community, because what we put into our community determines what we are able to take out. If no grass grows, there is no food for a grasshopper. Likewise, if no love and support is given in a community; no love or support can be taken from it.
In my group of friends, there were people from whole families, divorced families, kids from the “rich part of town” and kids from the other side of the tracks. We had artists, athletes, brainiacs, and even the Jack of all trades. Some of us were goofballs while others were super serious about life and our future, and we are all still this way. But we all became friends and stayed friends because our community (and us) created this space that supported diversity. Each one of us was diverse (whether that be color of our skin, where we came from, social status) but we came to support that and welcomed the diversity. We made it okay to be different, and encouraged it.
An example of this was from our talent show. Our talent show my senior year was actually one of the highlights of high school (yes, not winning district or going to the state semi-finals, but the talent show). Several of my friends were performing, but we didn’t know what they were doing for their performance, they were keeping it a surprise. Now, these friends were not known for their dancing or singing abilities, and it was a random group of guys, so everyone was kind of confused as to why they were even performing. When the curtains opened up, there were four treadmills on the stage. A popular song at the time “Here It Goes Again” by OK-GO came on. As the music started to play, the guys replicated the same exact moves that the band does in the music video. The whole time during the talent show, I thought to myself, wow I wish I was brave enough to do something like that. These guys took a huge risk, their senior year in high school, and could have made complete fools of themselves. They weren’t afraid to do it big. To them it was go big and rock it OR go big and fail magnificently. Either way, they were going.
These guys did something completely out of the box, and completely unexpected, and the only reason they were able to do this and not chicken out was because of our community. They knew they were in a place where you could fall flat on your face and still be loved. They could have gotten off sync and the crowd still would have given them a standing ‘O.’ It could have been a total disaster, but everyone would have told them how cool it was and that they did a good job. However their performance turned out, they had family and friends there to give them love and support. The dance was perfect. They stepped from treadmill to treadmill at the exact right time, and had the dance moves down pat. The crowd cheered, and my friends became famous on YouTube.
So ask yourself, what do I put into this community? Is it something that I would want to take out?
Emily Beckwith teaches Upper School Science at Episcopal. She is an environmental scientist with a Bachelor of Science in Renewable Natural Resources from Texas A&M University and a Master of Science in Environmental Science from Louisiana State University. After graduate school, Emily spent two years with a global environmental consulting firm where she worked on oil and gas remediation projects. After traveling the country for two years completing different projects and getting married, Emily decided to make a change in careers and pursue her passion for teaching the sciences.
With Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur - the High Holy Days - upon us, we celebrate the religious and cultural diversity of our Episcopal School community. This is just one example of the many beliefs on campus.
In the words of the National Association of Episcopal Schools, “An Episcopal school is comprehensive and inclusive.” NAES goes on to say that: “Our church encourages respect for the other person’s beliefs. An Episcopal school may be expected not to discriminate on the basis of race, creed, or national origin, and actively seek out faculty and students of diverse backgrounds and traditions in the belief that they bring something to be valued and respected, and because we would like to be broadly inclusive of the community we serve.”
Today’s world is diverse and our school should reflect that. In our Chapel and classrooms every day students sit side-by-side with others of differing faiths, beliefs and backgrounds. Because everyone is invited and valued, everyone should feel welcome.
Our Episcopal identity says that Episcopal schools have been established not solely as communities for Christians, like a parish church, but as diverse institutions of educational and human development for people of all faiths and backgrounds. Episcopal schools are populated by a rich variety of human beings, from increasingly diverse religious, cultural, and economic backgrounds.
Our Episcopal identity recognizes what a wonderful thing it is to learn together no matter the religion, culture or background. Students functioning together in a diverse setting, such as the one here at Episcopal, is great preparation for living future purposeful lives in a diverse world.
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.
Middle School Robotics
Middle School Robotics Club members trade flex time for building time. Lance Clark and Glynes Hill recently spent time tinkering in the NuVu Design Studio. The duo enjoyed working with the same set-up as members of the First LEGO League Team.
Why Middle School Sports?
“This is the first time they put on an official school jersey, giving them the chance to represent the Knights with pride. Middle School sports teaches them to be good athletes and prepares them well for varsity.” Coach Brenna Perez says Middle School sports are pivotal in a young athlete's life.
Knights’ flag football gives fifth and sixth graders an introduction to the basics of football and what it means to be a school athlete. The team takes to the field again on Saturday at 8 am and 9 am after coming off of a winning weekend at their last outing.
The Middle School football team is comprised of seventh and eighth graders eager to develop skills and talents in preparation for varsity level action. These students played their first home game against Most Blessed Sacrament recently coming up short with a final of 16 to 6. We look forward to the rest of the season.
The Middle School cross country team hits the road this weekend for the Battlefield Run in Port Hudson.
In addition, the Middle School swim squad has already made a splash. At a recent meet the girls swam for first and the boys placed fourth. Episcopal earned 13 overall top ten swims.
Want to be a part of the Middle School action?
Now is the time to sign up for Middle School basketball, soccer and wrestling. Contact the coaches now to get involved.
Go Middle School Knights!
“Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”
It is with these words that we close our daily Lower School Morning Meeting or Chapel services. This charge, a familiar dismissal in many Christian faith traditions, is not the first time we hear the word “peace” in the service. In our opening prayer, we ask God to help us to be “peaceful and generous, compassionate and caring.” Peace is a big idea, and we have spent the last few weeks together exploring what it means to be a people of peace as we prepared for the International Day of Peace on September 21st.
I have recess duty a few days every week. I watch 2nd graders and 4th graders play on the playground. If you have ever been around classrooms of children during recess, you know that “peaceful” is not a word that comes to mind if asked to describe them. They are loud, fast, and they are often changing from one game or area to another.
When we think about peace, images of calmness, quietness, stillness, or stability are typically what comes to mind. We think of people getting along, being happy, or not being afraid or worried. But what we are teaching the kids is that peace is much bigger than any of those things.
Ronald Reagan once said, “Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”
If we understand peace to be something more than just not fighting, then we allow the kids and ourselves to see new opportunities to be a peacemaker. Kids will disagree and argue, just like adults. We are all different, and we celebrate these differences instead of trying to force everyone into a false sense of sameness that fails to value the uniqueness that makes up each person.
On any given day, in the midst of watching the children run and play during recess, I see them living at peace. I see a girl invite another girl to come and play with her. I listen to the boy who comes to tell me that his friends are excluding another friend, and he needs help finding a way for them to be able to play all together. I see a girl stop in the middle of her run across the playground because she noticed a friend standing tearfully near the wall, and she goes to see how she can help. I hear a boy suggest a different game when one game gets too rough.
And it’s not just in the moments when tensions rise that they become peacemakers. They are peacemakers when they laugh, when they enjoy the sunlight and fresh air, and when they find rest in the middle of their other classes.
For the International Day of Peace, every child in the Lower School made a peace pinwheel and “planted” it in the front lawn as part of our Peace Day service. These pinwheels serve as a reminder to us of simple joys. The pinwheels are made of paper, a pencil, and a pin; and the only thing needed to power them is a gentle breeze. The collage of different colored pinwheels, each designed in a unique way, remind us of the beauty found in all of the things that make each person special. The simplicity of the pinwheel serves to remind us of the little joys in life that we can celebrate and the small things we can do on a daily basis to make the world a better place by being a peacemaker.
Sam Oakley started as a Lower School Religion teacher at Episcopal in August 2017. She previously served as the Associate Director of the Center for Family and Community Ministries at Baylor University where 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. They have three children: Elijah, Taylor, and Sadie.
Congratulations to the Episcopal Mathletes! These students recently competed against 15 other schools in the Division 2 St. Paul’s School Math Tournament. Every Episcopal competitor brought home a trophy or a ribbon or both! With only 13 students on the team, we placed 3rd overall!
Episcopal Students Treated to Live Poetry Reading by Internationally Acclaimed Poet Naomi Shihab Nye
It’s not every day that a poet stands before you and personally recites one of her works upon your request. However, that very thing happened recently at Episcopal when internationally acclaimed, award-winning poet and children’s author Naomi Shihab Nye paid a visit to Upper and Middle School students. Mrs. Nye recited her poem "Valentine for Ernest Mann" at the prompting of AP Language and Poetry class students and the full school assembly.
It was a tremendous honor to have such an accomplished poet take time to visit campus and share with students and staff. Mrs. Nye began writing as a child and has since seen her works read across the globe in a multitude of languages. She has authored and/or edited more than 30 volumes over the course of her career. Mrs. Nye has earned extensive recognition for her poetry, including being named a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow and a Witter Bynner Fellow (Library of Congress). She has received a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, four Pushcart Prizes, the Robert Creely Prize, “The Betty Prize” from Poets House and the American Library Association’s 2018 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award, in addition to many other honors.
Mrs. Nye’s connection to Episcopal began in San Antonio, Texas, where she met Hugh McIntosh, who was then the Head of School at Keystone School, which Mrs. Nye’s son attended. The renowned poet and author established a Keystone poetry group in which Hugh participated, even offering his Head of School office as a meeting site. Hugh and Mrs. Nye’s friendship has continued over the years now with him serving as Episcopal Head of School.
During this recent visit, Mrs. Nye spent a full day speaking with students about the writing process and the impact that simply putting a thought on paper can have on a person. The language and poetry class students enjoyed the opportunity to speak with her about the poem "Catalogue Army", which they had all recently studied. The students were receptive, asking thought-provoking questions that Mrs. Nye enjoyed answering. They were also prepared for the discussion, quoting their favorite lines from her poetry and engaging with her words.
During assembly, the VPAC was full of teenagers with varying levels of appreciation for writing. However, one thing the students all had in common was their attentiveness and commitment to listening. In fact, Mrs. Nye complimented the near-capacity crowd for their compassionate, generous listening skills as she read and discussed some of her favorite works. She expressed how at home and welcome she felt when visiting Episcopal for the second time.
Before parting, Mrs. Nye left students with a suggestion to scribble down three little things or thoughts each day so that they can remember and reflect upon them later. She also advised students to find writers they can follow and learn from and to frequent the local library.
During the learning process students are introduced to poetry and writing in books and classrooms. At Episcopal, we are blessed to be able to take this a step further and personally introduce the students to the poets and authors who penned the works. We look forward to future visits from Mrs. Nye and others.
What an amazing way for our students to learn more about writing!
The last stanza from one of Naomi Shihab Nye's beloved poems entitled “Kindness”.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
From Words Under the Words: Selected Poems. Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye