“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi
Most athletes will tell you that there is nothing like putting on your school’s team uniform for the first time. There is a feeling of pride and a sense of unity that comes from being a part of a whole that is represented by that crisp, clean jersey. Middle School is typically the first opportunity for most athletes to compete for their school, making this a truly special time for these students.
The Episcopal Middle School athletics program has recently experienced tremendous growth. Williams says over the past three years the Knights have had a record number of participants in basketball and volleyball. In addition, Middle School students are competing in softball, flag and tackle football, cross country, swimming, soccer and track. Ample opportunities to participate and compete means more students benefit from the overall team experience. Click here to read more about the 2A sports opportunities available at Episcopal.
Research has shown that participation in athletics fosters independence, a sense of community, healthy lifestyle choices and the development of lifelong leadership skills. Williams says students also develop the time management skills needed to manage classroom requirements and the demands of the team. This is significant in Middle School as students transition to more responsibility for their own academics and more rigorous course requirements.
Middle School is also the time when students increase their overall understanding of the game and refine their skills. Practice requirements increase as students get older, becoming more and more like the drills run by Upper School students. In addition, eighth grade students are introduced to strength and conditioning and summer practices. Williams says that the Middle School coaching staff are always cognizant of the fact that Middle School students are not Upper School students with smaller frames. He says safety is a top priority as students develop healthy habits and proper techniques that will serve them well, regardless of which sport they choose.
The success of the Middle School program means so much more than just building a successful Upper School pipeline. As students get in the game and feel the support of their community and families, their confidence soars. This confidence helps them take on new challenges and opportunities. The perseverance required to develop and improve new skills helps them achieve in the classroom. The sense of community provides them the support needed to keep trying.
Are you a Middle School sports fan? Click here to view the division’s athletics calendar and make plans to attend an event.
Go Middle School Knights!
Fifth graders celebrated new beginnings this week when they donned Class of 2026 sweatshirts for the first time. The annual sweatshirt tradition is the first official time that students are recognized as a class and a community. The occasion also marks the beginning of the transition from Lower School to Middle School. Lower School Division Head Bridget Henderson says the fifth grade year is an important one in Lower School.
“Our students are given many opportunities to develop leadership skills that will help them to be successful throughout their lives. By commemorating their last year in Lower School early on, it jump starts the year in a positive way and solidifies them as a class,” she says.
The beginning of fifth grade is traditionally commemorated with a special Chapel service. During the service, each student is presented with a blue and gold Episcopal sweatshirt featuring their class year. The occasion elicits plenty of tears, smiles and hugs as the reality of it all hits home for families.
Today, these students are considered the leaders of Lower School. In a short time, they will be considering colleges and careers. The sweatshirt ceremony is not only a reminder of the bright future ahead of these students, but also a time to pause and enjoy the moment.
Congratulations to the 2019 Episcopal National Merit Semifinalists and Commended Scholars!
According to the National Merit Scholarship Program, close to two million students compete each year, with approximately 16,000 making it to the semifinal round. Semifinalists are top scorers on the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test/PSAT test in their state.
National Merit finalists will be announced in February with winners named in the spring. The selection committee reviews student grades, activities and leadership, as well as school information to determine the winners. Scholarships are then awarded from the National Merit Scholarship Program, corporations and colleges and universities.
In addition to achieving academic success, the Class of 2019 honorees are also exploring diverse personal interests. These seniors participate in many activities including theater, athletics and Student Vestry. They are also Writing Center Fellows and members of the Honors Thesis program.
The Class of 2019 continues the Episcopal trend of having a high percentage of students performing well on the NMSQ/PSAT test. Last year, Head of School Hugh McIntosh penned an article regarding the significance of such recognition. Click here to read the Academic Point.
Congratulations to this year’s well-rounded group of talented students!
This week’s brush with tropical weather was a great reminder of the resources available at Episcopal. As the cone of uncertainty was plotted, teachers were making certain that electronic lessons were loaded and ready in Canvas should there be a need to close school.
Canvas is a learning management system that serves as an electronic portal between students and teachers. The platform houses the course content a teacher reviews during a class period, including slides, videos and links. It also serves as a hub for assignments, allowing students to submit their work for the teacher’s review. All of this means that as long as power and internet access is available, it is still business as usual for Episcopal students and teachers. Teachers simply enter lessons and students log in at anytime from anywhere. When a student logs in, Canvas creates a record of their virtual attendance. This record allows Episcopal to use emergency closure Canvas lessons in place of make-up days in the event that school needs to be closed.
Throughout the school year, Canvas is a critical component of a student’s Episcopal experience. Academic Technology Coordinator Betsy Minton says once a student reaches Middle School they are encouraged to manage their coursework as much as they can through Canvas. “Technology is a part of life for today’s students. This platform empowers them to take appropriate ownership of their school learning environment while learning the skills to achieve and thrive in the future,” she says.
Minton emphasizes that all communication platforms used at Episcopal are safe and private. She says an added benefit of having students manage their coursework in this manner is that they are also developing digital literacy skills and safe social media practices.
Even students in Lower School are being empowered to share information about their school day using appropriate communications tools. The Seesaw platform serves as the students’ digital portfolio, allowing students to share photos, text and even videos with family members instantly. Minton says parents love it!
“I get so excited when I get a glimpse inside their day via Seesaw,” says parent Amy Binck. She says she also appreciates that the posts stimulate after-school discussions with her second and fifth graders. As an added bonus, everything posted can be shared with other family members so even aunts, uncles and grandparents can take a peek inside the student’s day.
Students can easily share photos and information from their day using Seesaw.
There are also resources available to help Episcopal parents feel fully connected and involved in their student’s learning journey. PowerSchool, the Student Information System, houses all essential records and serves as the main resource for parent/teacher communication in all divisions. PowerSchool provides access to grades, attendance and report cards. In addition, critical and time-sensitive communication, such as an unexpected school closure, is disseminated through the
PowerSchool email system. If parents desire more frequent updates about their child’s assignments and grades, Minton says the Canvas platform also provides observer access through the website or a parent app which can be used to monitor their child’s progress throughout the year. The app can alert parents regarding their child’s performance so that parents can help their child if necessary. Members of the school’s technology team are available to assist parents with all of these tools. Minton has already trained several parents on the use of Canvas and PowerSchool. Parents who need additional assistance or training can contact Minton by emailing her and the technology team at email@example.com.
Electronic resources are valuable tools for students and families as they maneuver the academic year. As the numbers show, families are logging in and taking advantage of the information available. For example, below is a look at Seesaw activity between August 30th and September 5th:
For a complete list of resources and information on how to register for them, click on the links below.
Parent resources -https://www.episcopalbr.org/parent-resources.html
Student resources -https://www.episcopalbr.org/studentresources.html
Be sure to follow Episcopal on all of the following social media platforms.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram - @episcopalbr and Athletics Twitter - @EHSBRAthletics
A typical history lesson on an ancient civilization is anything but typical at Episcopal. Recently, a study of the Lascaux caves had sixth grade students cheering and exploring under the guidance of “InDAYana Jones.”
Middle School history teacher Virginia Day brought history to life for students studying the 20,000 year old cave paintings in southwestern France. Dressed in safari-inspired khaki from head to toe and calling herself InDAYana Jones she led students through a lesson on the paintings and their significance. Students entered an everyday campus classroom that was suddenly transformed by dimmed lighting and a large canvas cave in the center of the space. Students used flashlights to explore the cave symbols adorning the cave’s walls and traveled to additional stations where they made observations about strange-looking objects and their potential uses. They even had an opportunity to view fossils unearthed by Day during a summer trip to Wyoming.
On day two of the caves study, students had the opportunity to use a replica spear thrower or atlatl to launch a makeshift spear across the rain garden. There was excitement and cheering as each member of the class stepped up for their turn at using this primitive tool. Cheering and excitement in a Middle School history class!
The Lascaux caves were painted by ancient people during a time known as prehistory or the time before humans had a written language. Day says because of this, a classroom study of the period feels more like a scientific expedition than a traditional history lesson. Similar to social scientists, students use their powers of observation to draw conclusions about the physical evidence. They then compare their own observations to those of archeologists who have actually studied the site more in-depth. Day stresses the importance of this corroboration, especially in regard to this time period. “Our knowledge of prehistory is based on thousands of social scientists who go through this same process of making observations, drawing conclusions, and corroborating their findings. It is not just the result of what a small number of people have found,” she says.
While the spear exercise is exciting and memorable for students, the goal of the lesson is much more meaningful. “The spear thrower activity demonstrates the importance of technological advancements,” says Day. Day wants students to understand that their ancestors actually created highly advanced and thoughtful tools with important purposes. For example, the spear thrower was used to give ancient people greater distance from the animals they hunted to increase the speed and safety of the hunt. “Hunting during the Paleolithic Age was no walk in the park. It required much more skill, patience, and strength than hunting today does,” says Day. She hopes students walk away from the experience with an appreciation for the obstacles ancient people had to overcome in order to survive.
“We are all the result of the people who came before us. Similarly, we are building the foundations for things future generations will use. What our ancestors did millions of years ago matters, and what we do today matters to the people of the future,” says Day. What a fitting way to sum up a lesson that may have simply seemed fun for students. In the end, the students not only sharpened their critical thinking skills with hands-on learning, but they also gained valuable insight as to why we look back to move forward.
For members of the school’s Dance Master Seminar the answer is simple. “Without the arts my experience wouldn’t be the same.” “Arts are everything to me.” “The arts give us an outlet we don’t have in regular class.” “I took no art classes last year and I felt dead. With dance classes this year I feel more like myself.”
The arts, and more specifically dance, are powerful for students of all ages and all backgrounds. Research collected by the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) shows that “dance has a positive impact on student achievement, teacher satisfaction and school culture.” NDEO offers the following specific examples of the positive impacts of dance:
Episcopal dancers are quite familiar with these benefits. In fact, senior Madeleine Cope is currently working on a thesis examining the benefits of implementing dance at schools. Through her own research and experience, Cope says she has found that dance also boosts verbal and non-verbal communication skills. She equates learning dance with learning a new language as dancers hone these skills and learn what it means to be present and engaged in the moment.
There are also the emotional benefits that are garnered from dance. Watching members of the master seminar perform in the dance studio without the frills of stage lighting, costumes or professional sound, you feel the emotions of the dancers. These teenage performers are strong, powerful and fully focused on their movements and the message they are conveying to the audience. There is passion in each twirl and joy in each leap. The students are poised, graceful and expressive beyond their age.
Within the studio, students are comfortable enough to be vulnerable with their expressions. They celebrate each other’s success and provide positive, constructive feedback with the goal of helping their fellow dancers. Most of these students have been dancing since they were preschool age and many of them perform with multiple ensembles. In reflecting on the Episcopal arts experience, the dancers say the school provides a more loving and supportive atmosphere in which students can flourish. “This is a community here.” “We’re different, but that’s ok.”
Such cohesion could only be achieved in a nurturing, caring environment. That environment is cultivated by dance teacher Christine Chrest, who is now in her fourth year at the helm of the Episcopal dance program. When watching this professional dancer interact with her teenage protégées one thing becomes abundantly clear – Chrest truly cares about her students and wants them to be successful in whatever they do. This passion and Chrest’s expertise make the Episcopal dance program truly special.
For members of the Dance Master Seminar, dance is a lifelong commitment. Many of the current students have aspirations of pursuing a major or minor in dance once high school is over. As part of the seminar class, Chrest guides students through the process of creating their own choreography and writing scholarship essays to compete for spots in university dance programs. Chrest is like a proud mom as she reports on the success of Episcopal dance program participants thus far. Alumna Emma Scott Singletary ’17 is currently dancing at Elon University and former Episcopal dancer Azha Alston ’17 is studying dance at LSU.
As Chrest puts it, dance lights a fire within students that transcends the studio. Students are motivated to study, achieve and excel in the classroom because they are consumed by their passion and creativity. At Episcopal, there is a marriage of the arts and academics that truly helps students learn more about themselves and the life they want to live. It is one thing to say that arts are integral to a well-rounded education, but it is another to witness the focus and determination in the dancers’ eyes as they express themselves in such a vulnerable way. The art of dance has opened students’ minds to different possibilities and perspectives that are helping them define who they are today and where they want to go tomorrow.
Don't miss your chance to see the Episcopal dancers in action.
Whether you have been a member of the Episcopal community for generations or your family has just begun the education journey here, you likely already know the benefits of an Episcopal education: small class sizes, a commitment to academics, arts, athletics and service, and a vibrant, inviting community.
Pick up a magazine or newspaper and you will likely see an ad for a school open house or tour now that fall admission season is underway. Episcopal is once again launching the Test Drive Tuesday events to share the spirit and passion of the community with families and students considering the school. However, Test Drive Tuesday is not your average open house. The events are intentionally kept small so that they can be personalized to the interests of those in attendance. Test Drive Tuesday is a two-hour event that offers families a tour of campus, which is conducted in tandem with admission team members and Episcopal students. After the tour, families have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss details with key faculty and staff.
Admission Director Elena McPeak says Test Drive Tuesday feedback has been quite positive. One reason for the program’s success is the involvement of Episcopal students. Student Ambassadors are present to provide honest, unscripted testimonials regarding their school experience. McPeak says the ambassadors truly get to the heart of why Episcopal is a great place to learn, grow and achieve.
In addition to providing Test Drive tours, Student Ambassadors and Middle School Peer Leaders also conduct shadow days for prospective students. It can be intimidating to explore a new school and a shadow day goes a long way toward making the entire process more manageable. “Students who shadow at Episcopal fall in love with the school and the community,” says McPeak. “There is nothing quite like experiencing firsthand what it is like to be a student here. Visitors are always impressed and excited to discover the opportunities for learning and growth available on our campus.”
Think back to what made you and your family fall in love with Episcopal. Whether it was the personalized learning path, the opportunity to compete on the field and perform in the theater or feeling the support and care of an entire community, there was something that made you feel at home on Woodland Ridge. McPeak and her team hope that you will share that passion with others and invite them to a Test Drive Tuesday or encourage them to consider the Episcopal experience.
The 2019-2020 application is now live on episcopalbr.org. Test Drive Tuesday events are also underway. To learn more about both, click here.