The annual Pumpkins with Pops pumpkin carving was a treat for first graders and their families. After the carving was complete, there were jack-o-lanterns of all shapes, sizes and themes. Enjoy the photos from this fun day!
As students across the nation prepare for the October 27th ACT testing date, the organization that distributes the ACT test has released the 2018 Condition of College & Career Readiness Report. This annual report provides state testing data and the latest testing trends among students. According to ACT, the national average composite score dipped in 2018 from the previous year. The same downward trend was also seen among Louisiana’s Class of 2018.
At Episcopal, that trend does not hold true.
Episcopal students have consistently performed better on the ACT over the last four years with a 9.38% improvement. Upper School Division Head Tom Forti says this is thanks in part to the solid academic foundation that students are provided every day in every division in every class. According to the ACT College Readiness report, research has shown this to be true, with the rigor of coursework having the greatest impact on ACT performance and college readiness.
opportunity to prepare tomorrow’s leaders to make a difference in the world. “Our teachers are some of the most caring individuals, always providing support and encouragement while also pushing students to be their best academic self,” he says.
Episcopal teachers provide students the opportunity for a personalized, advanced education. Click here to read more about personalized options at Episcopal. Teachers know when a student is ready to advance to a more challenging course and they are there to support students along the way. Learning at your own pace has its benefits. According to ACT, “students who take Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Geometry typically achieve higher ACT Mathematics scores than students who take less than three years of mathematics. In addition, students who take more advanced mathematics courses substantially increase their ACT Mathematics score.” At Episcopal, it is common for students to take advanced math courses, such as Honors Geometry or even Calculus BC, when they are ready, regardless of any predetermined track.
In addition to strong academic support, students also receive tremendous social/emotional support, beginning as early as Lower School. “You’re not going to fall through the cracks here,” says Forti. “You’re always on someone’s radar.” Being on a teacher’s radar means that teachers know and care when a student is struggling. Teachers are aware of when students need additional support, such as an extension, a study hall or even just a listening ear.
Supportive teachers, accessible College Counselors and a network of families and alumni, together create a strong school community committed to mission-appropriate students. Perhaps Episcopal’s greatest strength is this sense of community and a passion for excellence and exploration. Episcopal students have the opportunity to pursue their interests and push their limits, thanks to the unrelenting support and guidance of faculty and staff.
Episcopal students are performing at high levels on national tests, with consistent improvement every year despite national trends. Tangible examples of the strength of the Episcopal community are reflected in improving ACT scores, consistent high performance on the PSAT resulting in significant National Merit recognition and high numbers of AP Scholars. Recent success points to a community not only healthy, but flourishing.
While test scores are impressive, the numbers cannot accurately tell the story. The Episcopal story is witnessed and felt as students take the stage for the first time in Lower School, or as an athlete earns extra playing time or even as the list of colleges and universities accepting Episcopal students grows. The Episcopal legacy is strong, as evidenced by the alumni who continue to enroll their children at their alma mater and by the community that continues to entrust the school with the hopes of the next generation.
“Different languages, different food, different customs. That's our neighborhood: wild and tangled and colorful. Like the best kind of garden.” ― Katherine Applegate, Wishtree
Lower School students, faculty and families celebrated community, wishes, love and acceptance this week as third graders completed the read of Wishtree by Katherine Applegate. The event highlighted the strength of the Episcopal community and the connections to the world beyond. The celebration was truly a community effort with special guests, a message from the author and even a Lower School version of the wish tree.
“This book has influenced me to be more welcoming to new people or to people who just want to play with me at recess. That is why The Wishtree is my new favorite book.” Evelyn Zartman
“I also love the book because it teaches me to love my neighbors. It also teaches me to be kind no matter what happens, like when you’re in the classroom and someone is having trouble you could help them.” Ada Mere
Chief Paul reflected on his own life’s path in speaking to students, offering an example of how he went into law enforcement while a close friend chose an entirely different path. He left students with three tips for staying on the path to success:
Students also had the opportunity to hear from another special guest – Wishtree author Katherine Applegate. The Newbery Medal-winning author took time to send students a personal video message that was as inspiring as the book itself. “My wish for all of you is a world full of welcomers,” she said.
Episcopal faculty and families were involved throughout the community read process. Parents read along with students and many adults were as moved by the themes as their children. The entire Wishtree experience was made possible because of the support of the Parents’ Guild. The group purchased the books as part of the annual Parents’ Guild wish list.
In addition, the 2018 Wishtree community read was dedicated in memory of O. Miles Pollard, Jr. Mr. Pollard, a former Episcopal trustee, had a love of the outdoors that made the Wishtree read a fitting tribute. Mr. Pollard’s wife Mary and their son Steele Pollard were on hand to commemorate the occasion. “Many may recognize the Pollard name because the Lower School library is the Mary Furlow Pollard Library, which was made possible through the gift of her son O. Miles Pollard, Jr. and his wife Mary Pollard in 1984. A photographic portrait of Mary Furlow Pollard hangs in the library,” said Director of Advancement Andy Spencer. Several copies of Wishtree for the Pollard Library's collection have been inscribed with a message honoring Mr. Pollard’s contributions to the Episcopal community.
Episcopal students are now extending the love and acceptance of Wishtree to students beyond Woodland Ridge. Lower School Librarian Catherine Word purchased copies of the book for third graders at St. James, St. Luke’s and Trinity. Next week, students will participate in a Skype discussion on the book’s themes to foster a stronger sense of community.
With a Lower School theme of Love Your Neighbor and a school-wide Quest for Peace program, Wishtree was a fitting read for this school year. The community read was one of those moments where everything just seemed to come together. The connections, the special guests and having the support of family made the experience one students will likely remember for some time. As they grow to become tomorrow’s leaders, we hope their wishes for kindness, peace and harmony come true.
Did you read Wishtree with your child? Leave us a comment below and let us know what you thought about the book.
Middle School Success
Middle School students are achieving tremendous success already this school year. Here’s a look at recent accomplishments.
Math Counts Club
Members of the Math Counts Club are competing in Upper School math tournaments whenever they have the opportunity. In September, the combined Middle and Upper School team earned the second place spot in Comprehensive Math 1 at the St. Paul’s tournament. Recently, a team of Middle School students placed second in Algebra I Math Bowl at the Ben Franklin tournament.
Mu Alpha Theta Coach Joan Moroney says participating in high school tournaments has numerous benefits for Middle School students. “The experience of going to the Upper School competitions allows them to challenge themselves in the particular math content area but also allows them to see what will be available to them once they reach Upper School. At all of these tournaments the Middle School students are building relationships with Upper School students as they work together on team competitions and hopefully viewing the Upper School students as mentors,” she says.
Congratulations on outstanding results at the Ben Franklin tournament!
Algebra I: Sacha Dernoncourt – fourth place
Geometry: Carter McLean – third place
Algebra I Math Bowl: Noah Vincent, Joie Lee, Michael Wang and Hayden Singh – second place
Episcopal team: second place against 14 schools from across Louisiana.
Spirit Ribbon Fundraiser
Middle School showed their support for local breast cancer patients through a spirit ribbon fundraiser. The division’s cheerleaders organized the effort, which generated $300 for Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. The squad also spent time during flex creating care packages for local patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Middle School students collected approximately 400 books for Baton Rouge area elementary students in just one week's time! The drive was successfully organized by members of the Student Council.
Middle School students donned orange in support of Unity Day this week. Middle School Peer Leaders successfully organized the day as a reminder to students to stand together against bullying. In keeping with the Middle School Honor Code’s focus on kindness, the day was a reminder to be accepting and inclusive of others. Students from throughout the division wore orange shirts, bows, ribbons and socks to show their support. This is a great example of the social/emotional learning opportunities available at Episcopal.
Division 3 City Swim Champions!
The Middle School swimmers won the Division 3 City Championship meet last Saturday. “The Middle School Swim Team has been successful all year, but this meet is the culmination of an entire season of hard work,” says Coach Stephen Anderson. “Nearly every swimmer played another sport or is in the play, meaning these kids were balancing other activities while performing at a high level at practice.”
Anderson says the teams performed consistently well in all races, with many individuals finishing in the top three, including a number of sixth and seventh graders. He says the boys’ team had only four boys, including fifth grader Charlie Williams, which is the minimum number required to make a relay.
Individual highlights from the recent victory include:
The Middle School Girls’ Cross Country team is ranked 51st in the nation! “This is a special group of Middle School girls,” says Head Coach Claney Duplechin. “They are very talented indeed. Their times are awesome. We have won all of our meets by over 100 points which is GREAT!!!!” Both the boys and girls have had tremendous success this year with both teams winning the Catholic High invitational.
The sixth grade Blue and Gold teams are in the flag football playoffs beginning this weekend. The seventh and eighth grade team finished the year strong with a big come-from-behind victory last weekend.
Student Artists on Display
Several Episcopal Middle School artists will have their artwork displayed at the Annual Downtown Kiwanis Art Show this weekend.
On Saturday, October 20th thirty-one Middle and Upper School students competed in the Ben Franklin math tournament in New Orleans. Episcopal placed second against fourteen other Baton Rouge and New Orleans high schools.
Algebra I 4th - Sacha Dernoncourt
Geometry 3rd – Carter McLean
Pre-Calculus 1st – Abhay Basireddy
2nd Algebra II Math Bowl – Noah Vincent, Joie Lee, Michael Wang, and Hayden Singh
1st Pre-Calculus Math Bowl – Abhay Basireddy, Gregory Field, Ryan Field, and Arya Patel
4th Calculus Math Bowl – Matthew Bickham, Judie Williams, Takumi Takei, and Arohi Gopal
Episcopal students have varying academic interests and long-term goals. The same student who sings the lead in the school musical may also be a member of the football team. A student with a passion for research may also have a heart for poetry and writing. These are one of the many benefits of being part of a small school that delivers big success!
To highlight student success and provide a clear snapshot of the range interests, Episcopal created the Upper School Academic Distinctions program last year. “Students are more than just their grades and we want to highlight that,” says Dean of Academics Dr. Sara Fenske. Dr. Fenske says the Distinctions program is designed to provide a more complete story regarding an individual student’s secondary school career.
Upper School students can earn a Level I or Level II Distinction. To complete the Distinction, the student must perform well in applicable courses and demonstrate commitment, leadership and a positive contribution beyond classroom work in the area of interest. Just a few examples include participating in Mu Alpha Theta for a Math Distinction, serving as a member of the Student Vestry for a Religious Studies Distinction or participating in a community theater production for an Arts Distinction.
A new element of the Distinction experience this year is the introduction of faculty mentors. Dr. Fenske says students are partnered with a mentor to help guide them through the process and keep them focused on the requirements. The student will meet with their mentor throughout the year as they work toward their goal. Mentor and Math Department Chair Stephen Anderson says while the process has only just begun, the interaction is meaningful.
“The mentoring process presents opportunities to have specific, individualized discussions with students regarding the importance and value of being more than just an “A” student. Being able to help students discover opportunities that allow them to pursue their passions/talents/interests in a more focused way is rewarding for both the teacher and the student,” he says.
Dr. Fenske. She says the program will help students explore their own interests much more in depth, which could ultimately have tremendous implications for their long-term aspirations. In an Academic Points piece last year, Head of School Hugh McIntosh predicted that Distinctions will do just that. “Student choice, ownership, and mentoring are elements of Distinctions which are known, thru educational research, to result in commitments to being a lifelong learner. In other situations, Episcopal students have blossomed when they are partners of a kind in their academic adventures.”
No doubt as the Episcopal Distinction program evolves, students will continue to explore their interests and discover creative and meaningful ways to achieve their goals.
Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook at 19.
Steve Jobs started Apple at 21.
Bill Gates launched Microsoft in his 20’s.
While research varies regarding the ideal age to launch a business, the innovations coming out of tech companies and Silicon Valley have certainly given encouragement to young people with business acumen. This year, a national organization known for fostering entrepreneurial skills in school-age students, is offering that encouragement and coaching to Baton Rouge’s future business leaders.
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Baton Rouge (YEA BR) recently announced its inaugural class of 26 students representing 14 schools and one home school. Three Episcopal students were selected as a part of the class – Abhay Basireddy, Akshay Basireddy and Charlie Roth. YEA BR Chair and Episcopal parent and alumna Deborah Sternberg ’90 says this is an incredible opportunity for these young people.
The national Young Entrepreneurs Academy was founded in 2004 at the University of Rochester in New York. Since then, the organization has expanded to include more than 100 locations in America and additional sites in India and China. Sternberg says YEA has 9,000 graduates operating 6,000 student-run businesses.
Sternberg, whose son Charlie Roth is a member of this year’s YEA BR class, says the idea to begin such a program locally has an interesting Episcopal connection. When Charlie was in fourth grade here at Episcopal he participated in a shark tank type of event, featuring guest speaker and LSU Innovation Park Executive Director Charles D’Agostino. Sternberg recalls that when D’Agostino asked if the group had any questions her own son raised his hand and simply asked for D’Agostino’s business card. At the time, young Charlie said he had several business ideas to run by the business veteran. This simple act sparked a thought in Sternberg. “Why wait until college to determine a child’s business interest?”
As a sophomore, Charlie Roth is excited to explore his entrepreneurial aspirations and to take advantage of the opportunities the YEA BR program has to offer. When thinking about the opportunity before him his face lights up as he reflects on the reality of starting a business in high school. He says the reality of the experience is what gets him most excited when he thinks about pitching his ideas to real people with real money. And just like his fourth grade self, he still has numerous ideas in mind to start a successful venture.
Charlie’s classmate Akshay Basireddy shares that enthusiasm. Basireddy was one of only three eighth graders accepted into this year’s class. While initially that thought made him nervous, he quickly realized that he was selected for a reason. He says the first day of the class he was able to offer helpful ideas that others had not considered. After being able to make an impact on the first day, he is looking forward to learning from the guest speakers, using the LSU resources and meeting with investors.
Akshay’s brother Abhay Basireddy was also selected for the inaugural YEA BR class. He says he is curious and eager to know more about the aspects of being an entrepreneur. “It is really exciting,” he says. “It brings together a community of people with their own business ideas.” Like Charlie and Akshay, Abhay says he has a few business ideas already in mind.
Here at Episcopal, students with business savvy have a range of opportunities and resources to help them achieve their dreams. Upper School teacher Vincent Hoang teaches two entrepreneurial studies courses in which students learn the principles of business. New this year, students have an opportunity to actually use the theories they learned in the classroom in a NuVu Episcopal Design Studio experience.
“The strength of the course is that they’re learning real life applications of business skills and they can fail without being penalized,” says Hoang. Hoang, who reminds students that WD40 earned its name because the developer tried 39 times before getting it right, says failure is a part of the entrepreneurial process. He says like the business development process, the Episcopal courses are a journey that helps students learn more about themselves as they continue to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will benefit them in all aspects of life.
The Tradition of Entrepreneurship
Episcopal students have a history of success when it comes to business endeavors. Current students can simply look back at the stories of successful alumni as examples of making a dream a reality. Just a few examples of successful Episcopal business men and women, entrepreneurs or graduates who have been in the news recently include:
With the school and community opportunities available to Episcopal students, there is no limit to what students can achieve. Congratulations to this year’s YEA BR participants!
In a recent collaboration with Britannica Digital Learning, I published a series of blog posts and presented a webinar on the topic of news literacy and fighting fake news. With over 600 educators from around the country attending this webinar and many more accessing the archive, the topic of fake news is timely and important in the world of education. Many of the concepts and resources I shared with educators in this series are also relevant to our entire school community, and I hope you will find them to be informative and useful.
There are several terms that are important to gaining a broader understanding of this topic. I have used a variety of sources, including Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy and Melissa Zimdar’s False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources to curate this list of relevant terms:
The moral of the story is that it is important, but not always easy, to seek balanced news from a variety of sources. Reading with a critical eye and fact-checking sources is essential. Here are a few websites that are designed to help readers look at news information more critically:
There is no denying that our news and media landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. While we clearly have a wealth of information at our fingertips and accessible on our smartphones, in many ways it is more difficult to discern fact from fiction than ever before. As involved citizens, we must be aware of the challenges and choose to evaluate news critically and carefully.
Tiffany has been an educator for eleven years and serves as the Director of Library at Episcopal. A lifelong resident of Baton Rouge, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education from Southeastern Louisiana University and her Masters in Educational Technology Leadership from Northwestern State University of Louisiana. She has served as the President for ISTE’s Librarians Network and was recognized as one of ISTE’s 2014 Emerging Leaders. Tiffany is National Board Certified in Library Media and was named one of the 2014 Library Journal Movers & Shakers. She was the 2016 recipient of the Louisiana Library Media Specialist Award and is currently the President of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians. Tiffany speaks regularly at state, national, and international conferences on school library and technology topics.
We often struggle to find the right balance of protection and independence when it comes to our teenagers. The nineties saw the rise of the “helicopter parent,” hovering over their child. This has evolved to the “lawn mower parent,” swooping in and “mowing over” any adversity or struggle their child may face. While this is well-intentioned, loving and motivated parents can inadvertently stunt the growth of adolescent independence by stepping in and “helping” each time their teen is in need. Parents often struggle with how much support is too much. Should I bring my tween their missing homework? Should I let my teen attend that late night party? Striking the right balance of protection and independence requires thoughtful consideration and knowledge of your individual child. How do parents navigate the tween and teens years? How much independence is the “right” amount? Here are some suggestions for knowing when to step in and when to let go.
As part of healthy development, adolescents become more peer-focused beginning around middle school. This also means that they rely less on adult guidance. Rather than parent facilitated “play dates,” adolescents make their own plans - movie nights, mall outings, sleepovers, concerts, dances, parties. These are all common activities for teens. Some ways you can foster social independence while also considering your child’s safety include:
As children approach middle school, teachers often encourage parents to step back and allow the student to take charge of her school work more independently. Parents should carefully consider how to empower their children to allow them to feel successful in school. Some ways you can foster independence academically include:
While many adolescents have a full schedule with school and extracurricular activities, it’s important for them to gain an awareness of their ability to contribute to their family and community. Being responsible to another adult, through a task such as mowing lawns, babysitting, or a summer job, empowers teens to feel competent. Some ways you can foster independence with work skills are:
Watching your child develop into a competent and confident adolescent is a rewarding experience. Episcopal’s mission includes preparing our students for “purposeful lives”. By motivating and encouraging responsible independence, parents and educators can partner together to help all of our students meet their full potential.
National Physicians Center for Families: Building Independence in Adolescents
Psychology Today: Teaching your Adolescent Independence
USA Today: Meet the ‘lawnmower parent,’ the new helicopter parents of 2018
Self-Sufficient Kids: 7 Ways Parents can Encourage Teens to be Self-Sufficient
Mark your calendar for the next Lunch and Learn with the Episcopal counselors.
Thursday, October 25th
11 am - 1 pm
The discussion will be based on the book UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All About Me World by Michele Borba. You do not need to have read the book to attend. Please RSVP to your division counselor.
Alicia has served as a School Counselor at Episcopal since 2001. As the Middle School Counselor, she has a passion for helping pre-adolescents reach their potential, academically, emotionally, and spiritually. Alicia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Master’s in Health Sciences- Rehabilitation Counseling, and is a Certified School Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor.
A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.
She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”
The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved. — Adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren C. Eiseley
Students and staff members from the Kliptown Youth Program (KYP) in South Africa recently shared this powerful message of connection and service to others, and hope for the future with Episcopal students. KYP was founded in 2007 by a small group of young people dedicated to making a difference in their community by eliminating obstacles to education. KYP offers support for school fees and uniforms and provides access to a range of resources including after school tutoring and technology.
The KYP founders are guided by the African philosophy of Ubuntu, which means “I am what I am because of who we all are.” With this guiding principle, the group has seen tremendous success in just 11 years:
The group’s story has resonated around the world. Kliptown Program Executive Director Thulani Madando was recognized among the CNN Heroes for the group’s commitment and work. KYP Gumboot dancers, who provide audiences a glimpse of the Kliptown culture through their performances, have been invited to perform internationally.
The recent visit to Episcopal and Baton Rouge was made possible by the Reilly family and City Year Baton Rouge, an education-focused nonprofit dedicated to helping students and schools succeed. Junior Rowan Reilly, who has volunteered in South Africa, shared more about his own personal connections to the KYP group with Upper School students during a special Chapel service. KYP students and staff performed Gumboot dances, taught dance students the steps involved and even had lunch with students in Webster Refectory.
“The students were treated to a global experience right here on our campus. The excitement seemed to grow as the morning went along, culminating with a standing ovation for the KYP delegation and a standing room only meeting in the Alumni House,” said Episcopal Chaplain Skully Knight. Upper School students gathered with the students and leaders from KYP to talk about the potential ways in which Episcopal can stay connected with them and their work. Examples discussed included online tutoring and reading work, connecting with other schools in the United States that already work with KYP and even the possibility of traveling to South Africa in the future.
To learn more about the Kliptown Youth Program, click here.
To read more about members of the Gumboot Dance Team click here and here.