It’s not every day that a Middle School book study leads to students wielding screwdrivers and working with wood in the VPAC theater shop. However, that very thing happened this week.
Students in English teacher Martha Guarisco’s class who chose to read Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hinton, were in for a memorable experience. The book follows the story of Mimi who has relocated to a new town in 1969 and is struggling to fit in. Unlike the other girls, she chooses to take shop class instead of the more traditional home economics course. Flash forward to 2019 and the Episcopal students who are currently reading the novel. Guarisco realized that the students have never taken shop or even home-ec and had no frame of reference for what the courses entailed. To make the book come to life for her students, Guarisco elicited the help of the Episcopal experts. “I’ve never had a home-ec or shop class, either,” Guarisco explains, “so I went straight to the people on our campus who could help. We are lucky to have staff who are not only good at their jobs but who jump at every opportunity to help kids learn. After all, that’s what Episcopal’s all about.”
Operations team members Leroy Harrison and Will Kojis were happy to share the shop experience with the students. The two pre-prepped all of the supplies needed so that each student could build their own shelf. There were boards, screws and screwdrivers neatly tucked into individual kits waiting for the students as they arrived in the theater shop. Harrison says the experience could never have occurred without the help of the entire Operations team. “We were in the middle of a major project,” he says. “If the remaining crew members weren’t able to help out, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to share this with the students.”
Harrison and Kojis offered students help as needed. However, many of the sixth graders had previous construction experience. “I was impressed with the students’ willingness to be hands on in this experience,” says Kojis. “They learned quickly with several of them even completing the shelf before the time was up.” As the students worked, they discussed the importance of developing such skills. The students had a sense of pride as they talked about building birdhouses and even hot tubs with their dads. Like Mimi from the novel, there was even a female student who was particularly interested in building, with her own toolkit and drill at home.
As the students continue to study Full Cicada Moon, they will work with Chef Pat in a version of a home-ec class where they will learn to make sushi. Teaching the whole child requires a community of dedicated professionals. On any given day you may find Deputy Daniels visiting with PreK-4 students for their community helpers project or Coach Dupe teaching students the art of making Cajun music. Many of the project-based learning units require a team to be successful. For example, the physical education teachers play a huge role in projects such as the first grade triathlon or the fourth grade landform study.
The Episcopal experience is enriched by the contributions of the entire community. Involving campus experts helps lessons come to life and provides hands-on experiences that make lasting memories.
Congratulations to the 2019 Episcopal Homecoming Court!
Top Row: Griff Strain, Sara Be, Tochi Mbagwu, Maia Adams, Logan LeBlanc, Landry Litel, Annslee Bourgeois, Kolin Bilbrew
Bottom Row: Thomas Lee, Sarah Collier, Andrew Clark, Chloe Carmouche, Robert Xing, Rachel Nichols, Lewis Ward, Grace Alexander, James Be, Anna Katherine Harrell
Mark your calendar now for the Homecoming game next Friday, October 4th at 7 pm. The Knights take on Catholic of Pointe Coupee. Check out the remaining football schedule here. Go Knights!
Calling All Episcopal Alumni!
Homecoming is a special time for alumni. Don’t miss out on the following activities.
Alumni tent featuring a Cochon De Lait
Look for the tent on the track near the north end zone.
Game time is set for 7 pm.
Wear your Episcopal gear and show your school spirit!
Welcome back to the classes of 1979 and 1989! We hope you have a great reunion weekend.
“I hope to dance ballet and trick-or-treat.”
“I hope to learn about cars and trucks, how things work, and letters and numbers.”
Ask a PreK-3 student what they hope to do this school year and you’ll get a range of answers like the ones above. Students are also interested in playing with babies, eating healthy and even learning about taxes. Ask the parent of a PreK-3 student what they hope their child will achieve and you will also get a variety of answers, from growing socially and academically to expressing themselves appropriately and learning to take turns. So, what do students in PreK-3 actually learn and why does it matter?
The Building Blocks of Learning: Social/Emotional Skills
PreK-3 teachers Kristen Cascio and Emily Richard say the majority of learning for the littlest Knights revolves around developing social/emotional skills. Social/emotional skills, such as waiting, sharing and learning to sit quietly on the carpet, are important for a student’s future learning capabilities. So important that the PreK-3 team spends considerable time helping students develop these building blocks of learning. Additional highlights of what PreK-3 students learn include:
The PreK-3 team uses the responsive classroom approach to teaching in much the same way that other teachers use it. Cascio says the team begins the year with the hopes and dreams component as they identify and understand the student’s and parent’s goals for preschool. Beginning the year with this understanding helps the teaching team personalize each student/family’s PreK-3 experience. The teachers also use the responsive classroom approach to classroom management. “We coach children through difficult situations and use everything as a teaching/learning opportunity,” says Cascio. Those teaching moments can come in the form of asking for additional food in the cafeteria, walking in a line with friends or learning to be aware of others. The little Knights even have their own Morning Meeting. Cascio says they start each day with a greeting, reading aloud and a group activity, which allows for collaboration, community building and life skill development. “During the greeting, students are instructed to make eye contact, greet friends by name with a happy, loud voice,” says Cascio. “We talk about how a happy voice makes our friends feel happy.”
At the same time that the three year old students are developing social/emotional skills, they are also developing academically. As they listen to stories and interact with friends, they expand their vocabulary. Students also learn to identify the letters in their name and the letters in the alphabet, which are the pre-reading skills needed to begin reading from a page. The lessons are flexible, adaptable and specifically designed to provide age-appropriate academic experiences.
Play = Learning
Cascio and Richard say play is a key to learning for three year olds. While adults may simply see a student picking up small objects with tongs or playing with Play Doh, the teachers say there is purpose to their play. For example, Cascio and Richard say that manipulating small objects and playing with clay helps students fine tune their fine motor skills in preparation for gripping a pencil for writing in later grades. Research backs up the importance of play.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “play is not frivolous: it enhances brain structure and function and promotes executive function (i.e., the process of learning, rather than the content), which allow us to pursue goals and ignore distractions.” In a 2018 AAP report on The Power of Play, the authors conclude that “play is intrinsically motivated and leads to active engagement and joyful discovery,” and that “with our understanding of early brain development, we suggest that learning is better fueled by facilitating the child’s intrinsic motivation through play rather than extrinsic motivations, such as test scores.” The authors also suggest that “play provides a singular opportunity to build the executive functioning that underlies adaptive behaviors at home; improve language and math skills in school; build the safe, stable, and nurturing relationships that buffer against toxic stress; and build social–emotional resilience.”
The Episcopal PreK-3 classroom is designed to encourage student play and learning. The teachers say there is a focus on natural lighting and a comfortable feel so that students feel at ease and are not overstimulated. Centers are thoughtfully arranged so that noisy areas are not near the quieter locations. There are a variety of toys, games and activities to engage students. Because three year olds still benefit from a nap, there is designated quiet time during which students unfurl little mats and snuggle up for a rest after several hours of learning. Cascio and Richard also try to keep students to an expected routine so that they know what to expect and don’t experience too many interruptions.
Lessons for Life
Episcopal’s PreK-3 program ensures that students establish a strong foundation for the learning that comes as they progress through Lower School and transition to Middle and Upper School. The emphasis on social/emotional learning will continue as they progress. While the skills are different at each grade level, faculty and staff across all divisions are making these life lessons a focus for students. “We’re lucky to be in a school where we focus on this at every level,” says Cascio.
While Cascio and Richard focus considerable time on helping students learn school procedures and social/emotional skills, they are also helping the students begin their academic journey. The teachers hope that the well-rounded, age-appropriate experience helps students develop a true love of learning and school. “We want them to wake up loving to come here,” says Cascio. Fostering a love of learning and the social/emotional skills needed to be part of a community are a key component of the Episcopal experience. It’s how we are preparing tomorrow’s leaders every day.
Need help determining whether your child is ready for preschool? Click here to read tips from PreK-4 teacher Julie Mendes.
On September 21st, 39 Middle and Upper School students competed in the St. Paul’s math tournament in Covington. Nineteen schools and 336 students competed. Episcopal placed 1st overall in Division 2!
Individual Test Results:
2nd – Luke Stelly
Honorable Mention – Joie Lee
2nd – Akshay Basireddy
Honorable Mention – Autumn Reynolds, Sacha Dernoncourt
1st – Joy Lee
Honorable Mention – Eugene Jiang, Anna Katherine Whaley
1st - Abhay Basireddy
2nd – Arya Patel
3rd – KC Shimada
Honorable Mention – Justin Dynes, Shuhei Niwano, Gregory Field
Team Test Results:
Algebra I - 3rd – Ayush Patel , Ahebwa Muhumuza, Hayden Willett, and Joie Lee
Geometry - 1st – Joey Roth, Akshay Basireddy, Sacha Dernoncourt, Thomas O’Connor
Comp. Math II - 1st – Katie Knight, Shuhei Niwano, Arya Patel
Calculus - 3rd – Adam Reid, Gautam Mahes, Elaine Gboloo
Algebra 2 Ciphering - 2nd – Joy Lee, Anna Katherine Whaley, Aadit Narayanan, Eugene Jiang
Pre Calc Ciphering - 2nd – Justin Dynes, Abhay Basireddy, KC Shimada, Gregory Field
1st Place – Middle School Interschool
1st Place – Upper School Interschool
Enter Episcopal French teacher Julien Prevost’s classroom and you’ll find what you might expect in a French language classroom – flags, photos from visits to France and French mementos. Prevost earned a master’s degree in teaching French from the University of Lorraine in France and completed additional training in London earning a post-graduate certificate in education in French and German from the University of Cumbria. As you might expect, Prevost speaks with a French flair and has a passion for his culture. What you might not expect is his passion and commitment to music.
Prevost has had a passion for music since he was seven years old and first picked up the cello. He has cultivated his cello talent over the years and even earned a bachelor’s degree in teaching the instrument. Prevost has performed in amateur orchestras in France, London and the United States. He even enjoyed a five year stint in a rock band called “The Spangles.” At Episcopal, Prevost has performed with Knight Train and played cello for the productions of Les Misérables and Evangeline. Once a month he also performs for Upper School students in Chapel.
Music is about so much more than playing notes for Prevost. “It’s like playing a sport or learning a language,” he says. “It requires practice every day, hard work and discipline.” Prevost says numerous life skills can be acquired through the musical experience including patience, perseverance and time management. He says musicians also develop the confidence needed to perform and a sense of commitment to being part of an ensemble. Prevost began his teaching career as a cello teacher in France and he enjoyed the opportunity to impart these lessons to his students. However, he eventually felt the need for a new adventure and thus began his French language teaching career.
As a French teacher Prevost thought he would have more opportunities for travel. He gained the opportunity to travel and so much more. While in London Prevost met Allison, an American originally from the Lafayette area. Louisiana’s French influence made it easy for Prevost to relocate to the Bayou State to join her. Now years later, Prevost and Allison have made a life together and are raising their son, Charles, in a bilingual home. Prevost says young Charles already loves music and he enjoys sharing it with him.
What music does Prevost listen to in his own car? “Classical,” he says. After pausing he adds that he also listens to rock, rap and a variety of French and American artists. He is even familiar with Louisiana’s Cajun music. Prevost says he doesn’t like to put barriers on the music he enjoys and is open to a range of genres. This classical performer says he’s also open to playing a variety of music from jazz to rock.
Being open to new adventures and new experiences has helped Prevost create a life he couldn’t imagine when he first began playing cello all those years ago in Nancy, France. He has followed his passion and continues to make beautiful music in the process.
While the fall means “Back to School” for many families, some of you are also beginning to think about the next school year as you prepare to take the next step of enrolling your young child in a preschool program. While a child’s age and birthdate are important factors to consider, these are not absolute benchmarks in determining a child’s readiness to begin school. Being prepared for preschool has more to do with where your child is developmentally. Is he/she socially, emotionally, physically, and cognitively ready to participate in a daily, structured, educational program with a group of other children? Ask yourself these questions as you consider if your child is fully equipped with the set of skills they need to have a successful preschool experience.
Is your child fairly independent?
Preschool requires children to have certain basic skills. Most schools will require your child to be fully potty-trained when they start school. Also, begin practicing tasks that require fine motor strength, such as zipping and buttoning pants, zipping up backpacks and hanging them on a hook, rolling up a nap mat, pulling a sweater on an off, hand washing, and eating independently using napkins and utensils. Practicing these skills at home will make your child’s start to school less frustrating and help them build fine motor skills that will help them later as they learn to cut and write.
Can your child participate in group activities?
Many activities in preschool require students to sit in a group setting for a period of time. Is your child able to sit and listen to a story? Do they take turns and listen when others are speaking? If your child isn't used to group activities, you can start introducing them yourself. Take him/her to story time at your local library, or sign them up for a recreational activity such as dance or soccer to help your child get used to playing with other children.
Does your child have good communication skills?
In preschool, it is important for your child to be able to communicate their needs to their teachers and peers. At home, you may find it easy to step in and give your child what he/she needs before they even ask. At school, your child will be around adults who may not know your child as well as you do. It is important to have your child practice these critical communication skills before they start school. For example, if your child hands you a milk carton, have them practice asking, “Could you please help me open my milk?” Role play with your child and give them scenarios that they might encounter at school. How would your child handle a situation where another child wasn’t sharing? Often, children with poor communication skills will revert to hitting or grabbing toys from other students. By practicing these conflicts ahead of time, students will be armed with the skills and language necessary to problem-solve with their peers.
Is your child used to keeping a regular schedule?
Preschool programs follow a predictable schedule. There are times set aside for play, eating, and even resting. There's a good reason for this. Children tend to feel most comfortable and in control when the same things happen at the same time each day. Students who do not follow a schedule at home will often have trouble during transitional times between activities at school. Help your child prepare for their school routine by adhering to a schedule at home. Plan meals at determined times and have predictable activities throughout the day. Set a bedtime routine (bath, brush teeth, story time, lights out). Giving your child structure at home will help them adjust to a school schedule.
The best way to decide if your child is ready to begin preschool is to spend time thinking about your child and to talk to other people who know him/her well, such as your partner, your pediatrician, or others who spend a lot of time with your child. While there is no checklist to give a quantitative score of readiness, there are many ways you can work with your child at home to make their transition into school as smooth as possible.
Are you ready to apply?
If you have considered the above questions and determined that your child is prepared to begin the next phase in their educational journey, we are ready to help you navigate the school admissions process. Visit https://www.episcopalbr.org/admission.html to schedule a tour of our campus, view the 2020-2021 application, or get in contact with a member of our Admissions team.
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.
In a corner classroom of the Academic Commons, students are learning lessons taken straight from the headlines. Recently, a group of juniors and seniors analyzed fabric fibers found at a makeshift crime scene to determine who committed the crime. Students entered a hall roped off by crime scene tape and collected fibers from within a “chalk” outline. They were then tasked with looking at the fibers with a dissecting microscope or a digital camera to identify the type of fiber present. Prior to studying fibers, students spent several class periods learning the details of fingerprinting. They used inks and brushes that you might expect to find in a crime lab. There were balloons taped up in the lab areas with dusty print marks appearing faintly on them. Both lessons were engaging and hands-on.
This is Upper School Forensic Science
In speaking with Upper School science department chair Sarah Pulliam, it’s easy to feel her enthusiasm for the class. “Episcopal is a school that is open to letting people teach their expertise and provide students with a variety of exciting learning opportunities,” she says. Forensic science is back by popular demand this year because students expressed interest in additional science electives. Pulliam says with many students using eighth grade physical science for Upper School credit, a large number of students are not required to take additional science courses once they reach their senior year. This opens up the possibility for students to take science courses simply because they are curious. With popular television shows depicting forensic science, Pulliam says this new course definitely has a “cool factor” and attracted more students than expected to enroll.
Pen and Paper Provide Insights into Personality
“Look at how you cross your t’s and dot your i’s,” said Pulliam in a recent class discussion. Students were learning the intricacies of handwriting analysis and how handwriting can be used in a criminal case. Pulliam showed students a news story regarding the ransom note in the Jon Benet Ramsey case. The students’ interest was sparked with one student even asking if the class could solve the case. After a discussion on what to look for when analyzing writing, students practiced analyzing their own handwriting as well as their classmates’ handwriting. To add excitement to the exercise, Pulliam had one student write a fake ransom note in which he tried to mask his writing traits. Students later had to try and guess who wrote it.
Senior Alexander Harlan says he enrolled in the course because criminal justice has always been a field of interest for him and he hopes the course will shed light on whether it’s an appropriate career choice. Already, he says he’s learned a lot. “There’s a lot more to investigating than I knew of,” he says.
Over the course of the semester, students will put their investigation skills to the test. They will study decomposition, bullet signatures, blood splatter and DNA analysis. The group will also take a trip to the state police crime lab where they will have the opportunity to see the science in action. For students who are particularly passionate about the field or who need additional science credits, the spring semester should prove to be equally as engaging. Beginning next semester, Upper School teacher Jennifer Purnell will teach a biotechnology course. With an increased interest among students in this topic, it should be a popular second act to forensics.
One of the strengths of the Episcopal experience is the opportunity for students to experience personalized learning. Students learn at their own pace and based on their own interests, while parents remain confident in the academic rigor of the course content. Teachers enjoy the opportunity to provide engaging lessons based on student feedback and requests. Forensic science in Upper School provides more evidence of what makes the Episcopal experience so special.
Congratulations to our eleven National Merit Semifinalists and three 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 PSAT/NMSQT 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.
This is a tremendous accomplishment for our students and we wish them luck in the finalist round.
Between chemistry classes, a campus job, football and four hours of research a week, Episcopal graduate Scott Wicker, Jr. ’18 has a full schedule. Wicker is in his sophomore year at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN where he is majoring in chemistry with a minor in math. He plans to pursue advanced degrees on his path to becoming a chemical engineer.
At Episcopal, Wicker was known for his ESTAAR research entitled Non-Traditional Heating Methods for Petrochemical Manufacturing. However, Episcopal Dean of Academics Dr. Sara Fenske says Wicker’s interest in research began well in advance of his ESTAAR journey. “Before ever taking any of my classes, Scott would drop by my classroom to ask questions,” says Dr. Fenske. “I soon learned that these ‘out of the blue’ questions came from his deep curiosity about the world around him. This curiosity led Scott to pursue ambitious research projects both in my class, where he studied the effects of antioxidants on quantum dots, to his ESTAAR project focused on the synthesis of iron oxide nanoparticles.” Dr. Fenske says that Wicker was never afraid to push himself to do more. “Fortunately, he also has the talent and creativity to succeed in these ambitions,” she says. After spending countless hours in the lab, Wicker was one of only 230 high school students to qualify to present at the 56th National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.
Admission into the ACCESS program is based on a student’s essay, an online application and letters of recommendation from professors regarding their work. As a result of his ESTAAR experience, Wicker had an opportunity to work closely with Dr. Fenske and LSU’s Dr. James Dorman. Both were able to write letters supporting his research and application. “When Scott told me that he was applying to the MIT ACCESS Program and asked if I would write a letter of recommendation for him, I was thrilled to do so,” says Dr. Fenske. “This program targets talented young researchers and helps to prepare them for graduate programs in chemistry, chemical engineering, and material science. Like attending the National Junior Science and Humanities program, I knew that this opportunity would open doors for him and help him see the different paths available to him. Programs like these are meant for rising stars like Scott, and I am sure that his future in research will be bright.”
At Rhodes, Wicker continues his commitment to research. Over the summer, when he wasn’t working on his ACCESS program application, he was in the lab. In fact, he spent eight hours a day assisting inorganic chemistry professor Dr. William Eckenhoff. According to the research group’s website, Dr. Eckenhoff’s lab currently has three research projects underway including Proton Reduction Catalysts for Artificial Photosynthesis, Solvatochromic Molybdenum Complexes and Zinc Complexes to Mimic the Enzyme in Binding Anti-Microbial Compounds. You can read more about the projects here. As part of the research team, Wicker runs experiments and gathers data. He also works closely with Dr. Eckenhoff to analyze the information and the results. Wicker hopes to publish an article from his summer research by the end of this year.
Even with everything else on his schedule, Wicker finds time for football. He spends 20 hours a week practicing and working out with the Linx as a defensive lineman. He says playing for a Division III team means that football is not his entire life, which is something for which he is grateful. As a result, he is able to manage college life, athletics and academics successfully.
Wicker is no stranger to juggling multiple interests. While at Episcopal, he was involved in athletics, research and numerous academic endeavors. One hallmark of an Episcopal education is the opportunity students are provided to explore their own interests and learn at their own pace. Whether students are passionate about research and the arts or athletics and spirituality, there are a range of experiences from which students can choose. While Wicker says it’s not always easy juggling a packed schedule, it is certainly worth it. Like he did during his time at Episcopal, he is making the most of his college experience and enjoying it along the way.
Good luck in your journey, Scott! Episcopal is cheering you on in the classroom, the lab and on the field.
During the hectic first weeks of school, Episcopal Lower School families generously donated school supplies for partner school Melrose Elementary. It’s a tradition that’s been ongoing for at least seven years. It goes hand-in-hand with what the fifth graders are learning in Religion class.
The students are learning about how and why we serve others. By reading Scripture and discussing the parable of the Good Samaritan, they made the connection that by serving others, in this case, donating school supplies to students who need them, they’re loving others - and that’s the greatest lesson of all.
On Friday, August 30, the twelve students in my first-quarter fifth grade Religion class loaded all of the boxes of donated supplies onto a school bus for a special in-person delivery.
“We loaded so many boxes of paper, markers, notebooks, binders, glue, scissors, pencils, backpacks, crayons, markers, and more!” exclaimed fifth grader Natalie Reimann. “We realized that our school families had donated tons of school supplies. It almost filled up half of the bus!”
Once they arrived at Melrose, the students met with Principal Olga Pack, ELA Content Leader Bianca Plummer, Counselor Seana Mercer, Math Content Leader Florence Bonton, Instructional Specialist Shanika Griffin, and Assistant Principal Brandi Brister. After delivering supplies to the auditorium of the school, the fifth graders were excited to go on a tour of Melrose.
The students were also excited to learn that Melrose has a theme every year just like Episcopal. The theme this year is “Every student glows!” Fifth grader Lilliana Latour reflected upon the experience: “As we got back on the bus to go back to Episcopal, we felt a glowing happiness that we did something wonderful. We were so glad to be part of the experience.”
“This experience warmed our hearts because we did something good for the community,” said fifth grader Tripp Veillon.
Jenny Heroman Koenig
Jenny Heroman Koenig is a proud 2001 graduate of Episcopal School of Baton Rouge. She returned to her alma mater as a Lower School Religion Teacher. Jenny earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass communication with a minor in sociology from Louisiana State University. She has eleven years of experience as a television journalist in Baton Rouge and Gonzales. Jenny always had a desire to teach and eventually followed that calling by earning a teacher certification from the Teach Ascension Academy Certification Program. Jenny began her teaching career as a second grade teacher at Donaldsonville Primary School. Jenny is also active in the community as a member of the Louisiana Association of Educators, the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, Baton Rouge Women in Media and the Louisiana Film and Entertainment Association. She has received numerous honors including the 2014 Individual of the Year Award from the Ascension Chamber of Commerce and the opportunity to be the Honorary Ascension Parish President on “Jenny Heroman Day”. When she’s not teaching, Jenny enjoys theatre and music and is the lead singer of the Something Blue Band.