Enter first grade teacher Mary Kathryn Vey’s classroom and you may find students working in groups or seated together on the rug. Each group encourages each other and there is an enthusiasm for learning as a team. This cooperative approach to learning is called Kagan Learning Structures. Learning is organized into structures including mix-n-match, quiz-quiz trade, stand up-hand up-pair up and I have-who has. Vey shares more on how the approach works and the benefits of this type of learning.
The Kagan approach to learning creates active classroom engagement. Teachers engage students to boost achievements and lower discipline problems. In a traditional learning structure, the teacher leads a whole-class discussion and asks for responses. The Kagan approach creates a less intimidating environment. With Kagan Structures the teacher uses one of several approaches that create and boost the classroom environment. Students use the learned structures to quiz each other or answer the questions collaboratively. Cooperative learning is a positive alternative and creates student interaction.
The Kagan structures promote collaboration and student communication. They use the learned structures to help guide pair and group work; which increases student participation. Kagan is a positive, hands-on approach to help students use team building and positive classroom language. The students learn to praise their partners and work collaboratively together. Students feel empowered and ready to share collaboratively with their peers. The Kagan approach promotes a positive learning environment where all students want to actively participate.
With Kagan, the teacher forgoes the traditional “whole class discussion” or the “one answer at a time” approach and instead has students use one of the structures that involves everyone and encourages student participation. Kagan promotes powerful and positive teacher language that in return creates positive student interaction. It helps create cooperation and self confidence. It’s a non-threatening way for all students to feel actively engaged within their classroom. The Kagan approach helps increase student communication skills and aids in positive student growth. The students will practice several Kagan strategies that they will use throughout the year to check for content knowledge.
Mary-Kathryn Vey joined the Episcopal faculty in 2015 as a first grade teacher. Before joining Episcopal, she taught first grade for six years in Mississippi and received the Teacher of the Year Award in 2013. Mary-Kathryn graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in child development. She continued her education and obtained a second degree in the area of elementary education. Mary-Kathryn is passionate about creating lifelong learners and enjoys instilling the love of reading in each of her students.
The ABC's of the Vocabulary Parade
The 9th annual third grade vocabulary parade had it all! It was “patriotic” and “aerodynamic.” The students truly had an “ear” for words. It was an occasion fit for a “princess” and even a “queen”! Congratulations to this year’s “vigilant” group of students!
All are Welcome
Episcopal celebrated the Feast of Francis of Assisi with the annual Blessing of the Pets. From hermit crabs and fish, to tiny and large dogs, all animals were welcome.
All Smiles at the Triathlon
First graders wrapped up their Healthy Selves project-based learning unit with the annual triathlon. Students took the plunge in the school pool, pedaled across campus and then sprinted to the finish line.
Follow Your Dreams, PreK-4!
What do you want to be when you grow up? PreK-4 students recently explored this question with a career dress up day. Career choices ranged from a Chef to a Doctor, Astronaut and police officer. Regardless of the path students follow, teachers encouraged them to pursue their dreams. We can’t wait to see where life takes them!
Exploring the Earth in Middle School
Sixth graders recently had the whole world in their hands. Students in Stacy Hill’s science class used merge cubes to look within the earth’s layers and learn more about plate tectonics.
Student Artwork Published
Junior Alex Nelson’s artwork is in the November issue of Albricias, which is the Student Journal of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. The publication features student essays, poetry, articles, photography and art. A significant number of submissions are received for each edition, making this a tremendous honor. To see Alex’s artwork in the journal click here and scroll to page 29. Congratulations, Alex!
Congratulations to Kathryn Knight and Quirino Motaggioni! Both students are being recognized for their art on display at the Kiwanis Pancake Festival this weekend.
Family Favorites Celebrations
There was much to celebrate this week at Lower School and Middle School Morning Meetings. Lower School students cheered for the division’s recent recognition as Baton Rouge Parents Magazine’s Family Favorite Preschool Program and Family Favorite Private Elementary School. Lower School Division Head Bridget Henderson was honored for being named the Family Favorite Private Lower School Principal. Across campus, Middle School students were celebrating their own recognition as the Family Favorite Private Middle School. In addition, former Middle School Head Lucy Smith was recognized for being chosen as the Family Favorite Private Middle School Principal.
The truth about adolescence is that it’s hard. It’s just hard. Think back to your own Middle School experience for a moment. My guess is that there were some awkward moments. Whether it was a first audition, getting picked near last in dodgeball, or asking/getting asked out… there are new and strange situations that happen while we are in Middle School. In Middle School, there are so many weird social status aspects to life. It’s also true that they are usually public and how things play out matters tremendously in the moment.
While Middle School is a strange experience, it’s also true that children are testing boundaries and learning a lot more about themselves each day in this window of development. This is when many students take on leadership roles for the first time, whether it’s earning the lead in the school play or being selected as the captain of the swim team. This is the first time in their lives when adults ask them what they are going to do in a situation, rather than simply tell them. The world is also asking these malleable, inexperienced adolescents to do things for which they may not be ready. To help them handle this new sense of responsibility and to ease the transition, my philosophy is that we need to keep talking to our kids and loving on our kids. We need to be aware of what they are morally capable of and allow them to test their skills. We also need to remember that if their attempts don’t go as planned, it doesn’t mean we’re a failure as a parent.
So if it’s true that it’s hard and they are exploring who they are.. what can we do? Helping them through this transition is important work that we can accomplish together by doing the following:
As a Middle School team, we are committed to partnering with you and helping to mold your children into the best people they can possibly be. Academics are important for future success, but we know that being a good person is the more critical component on the journey to happiness and success. As your partner, we invite you to reach out to us with open communication about any concerns you may have. Please don’t wait until May or let a small concern turn into a problem before reaching out via a phone call, a chat or an email. Together, we can make Middle School more rewarding for your children... and maybe even a little less hard.
Mark Engstrom is Episcopal’s Middle School Division Head. Prior to joining Episcopal he served as the Middle and Upper School Division Head at Allen Academy in Bryan, Texas. Mark is a Louisiana native and a graduate of Ben Franklin High School in New Orleans. Mark earned degrees from the University of Kentucky, the University of New Orleans and Framingham State College in Massachusetts. He has extensive experience in blended learning and has led multiple professional development opportunities regarding blended learning. Mark has also published articles on personalizing student education. Mark particularly enjoys working with Middle School students as they transition from elementary school students to high school students. Mark is married to Nicole, Episcopal’s fifth grade science teacher. Their children, Alex and Emma, are Episcopal students.
Middle School athletes have already had a great fall season. Here are highlights of recent action. Click here to access the Middle School athletic calendar and make plans to cheer on your Middle School Knights!
The boys and girls had a great showing at the recent Catholic High Invitational. Pearson Spender led the way with a first place finish in 11:11 in the boys two mile. For the first time, Scarlett Spender and Ivy Jiang ran in the varsity three mile race, with Spender putting up a time of 19 minutes. In the Middle School race, Anna Kate Yale led the way for the Knights with a great two mile time of 13:29.
The Middle School boys had a dominating win at the St. Joseph’s Invitational. Eighth grader Abram Johnston finished second. The girls squad placed second overall in the meet. Eighth grader Ivy Jiang placed fourth and Rebekah Reid and Anna Kate Yale were among the top 10 finishers.
The seventh/eighth grade team recently had a huge victory against Dunham with a final score of 40 to 16. This was the team's second win against Dunham this season. This week, the students faced pouring rain in a hard fought home contest versus Our Lady of Mercy. The football Knights will play their final game of the season here at Episcopal on Tuesday, October 22nd at 6:30PM.
The softball Knights are playing great this season. The sixth grade team has had nice wins over Dunham and U-High. The seventh/eighth grade team had two wins versus Parkview and fought hard against U-High and Central. The athletes have shown significant progress this season.
Middle School is making a splash. The boys and girls teams recently placed first in the 200-medley relay. Relay team members include Olivia Melancon (backstroke), Ryann Richard (breaststroke), Lucy Cramer (butterfly) and Rylee Simoneaux (freestyle). Olivia Melancon and Rylee Simoneaux each qualified for high school state swimming cuts in the 100 freestyle and Olivia was the 50 backstroke champion, while Rylee Simoneaux was 50 backstroke runner-up and Matt VanDeMaele was the 50 breastroke boys runner-up.
Congratulations to Episcopal’s Bridget Henderson! Bridget was voted the Favorite Private Elementary School Principal in Baton Rouge by readers of Baton Rouge Parents Magazine! On any given day, you can find Bridget wishing students a happy birthday in Morning Meeting, visiting with faculty about the lessons they have planned or even spending time with PreK students in the garden. Her love for children is obvious and infectious.
“I always knew I wanted to be in education,” says Bridget, who grew up not far from Baton Rouge in Gonzales. “We played school a lot.” As the baby of a family with eight children, Bridget had plenty of siblings on which to practice her teaching skills. She says while her mother wasn’t a teacher, she raised the family as if she were. Bridget remembers a yellow suitcase in her mother’s closet full of treasures that young students need to succeed. Whenever there was a school project, Bridget and her siblings would crack open the case to find sticky letters, construction paper, fabric and sequins. “We were inspired to think creatively,” says Bridget. She remembers playing in the yard, imagining shapes among the clouds and inventing her own fun.
Family is a key component of Bridget’s life. Growing up her parents built onto the family home so that her grandparents could have a separate space close by. Having her grandparents so near meant Bridget had the opportunity to play cards with her grandmother’s friends. She learned to cook. She learned to tie her shoes before she was two. She also developed a strong sense of independence.
“I was born independent,” says Bridget. Bridget always had a desire to lead and she says she took every opportunity to do so. She was very involved in school from an early age at St. Theresa Elementary School. She continued to seek leadership opportunities and became the head cheerleader, a class officer and a member of the high school student council. She was a member of the Beta Club song and dance talent group that won a national title. During her senior year, the cheerleading squad also placed in nationals. While at LSU, she chaired homecoming festivities for her sorority, Delta Zeta. She says the project was a large undertaking and ironically, she earned her highest GPA the semester she tackled it.
Bridget draws from her faith to guide her life. That guidance has come in the form of gentle nudges along the way. For example, the nudges helped her decide between teaching jobs at two area Catholic schools. She eventually became the Episcopal Lower School Division Head after another nudge. She had initially applied for the role of Director of Extended Care. While on campus interviewing for the extended care role, she was approached twice in three minutes by members of the Episcopal community encouraging her to seek the division head role. After teaching for several years at Episcopal, she was happy to return to Lower School as the division head. That joy and enthusiasm for helping children learn has not faded, even after nine years on campus. Bridget knows every student by first name. She reads the books the students have been assigned so that she can chat with them about what they’re reading. She celebrates every student and each teacher’s birthday at Morning Meeting. “I refer to Morning Meeting as my spiritual vitamin,” says Bridget. “It is what each person in Lower School needs to start the day off just right. The community time we share with songs, worship, valuable lessons, special presentations, and birthdays is arguably the most important thing we do each day.”
When she’s not celebrating her Lower School children, Bridget spends as much time as she can with her own family. “I would love for more hours in the day and days of the week for grandbabies, great books, and beach trips,” she says. Bridget loves cooking for her family and is an avid baseball fan. Lately, she has become a fan of the Baton Rouge Community College Bears as her son, Thomas, was recently named the Head Baseball Coach after coaching and teaching at West Monroe High School.
Teaching is a family tradition for Bridget and her husband, Kenny. All three children in their blended family are educators. Maggie recently took a leave from teaching to spend time with Bridget’s two grandsons, Greer and Griffin. Bridget sees the boys as often as she can with Maggie and her husband, Jarred, living in Alexandria. In addition, Taylor is in her first year as a fifth grade teacher at Trinity Episcopal Day School. Taylor and her husband, Brandon, welcomed Bridget’s first granddaughter, Annie, this summer. As you might expect from someone so dedicated to children, Bridget relishes every moment she has with her three grandchildren. She says she is indulgent with the time she dedicates to them and the memories they make together.
Any discussion of Bridget’s family would be lacking without a mention of her four-legged family members. For as long as she can remember, Bridget has been devoted to her pets. In addition to being a mom to three children, she also considers herself a mom to cats, Solomon and Sanibel.
Bridget is passionate about education and helping students grow. She is also passionate about supporting her staff and working together to build a community. “Bridget is an outstanding Division Head,” says Lower School Administrative Assistant Casie Burley. “She cares tremendously about the safety, happiness and success of our students and inspires us all to do and be our best selves. We are fortunate to have her lead us daily.”
Episcopal’s Lower School community truly is a family, thanks to Bridget’s leadership and the dedication of the faculty and staff. It’s no wonder that Bridget was recognized as Baton Rouge Parents Magazine’s Family Favorites Private Elementary School Principal. It’s also no wonder that PreK was honored as the Family Favorites Preschool and Lower School was named the Family Favorites Private Elementary School.
Congratulate Bridget in the comments below.
There are a variety of exciting, new courses for Episcopal students this school year. One such course is Ethics, Economics, and Cultural Impacts of Sport in the Hispanosphere. The course uses an examination of popular sports to engage students in discussions on ethics, economics and Spanish culture. Upper School Spanish teacher Sergio Ramos is happy to teach the course and provides more details on what students are learning.
The Global Studies Department saw the need to develop a cross-disciplinary curriculum that could enrich the learning experience of the 21st century student. The Ethics, Economics, and Cultural Impacts of Sport in the Hispanosphere developed from that call. This new course focuses on the rich and exciting culture of several Spanish-speaking countries through a wide variety of sports and leisure activities. The cultural and economic impacts of these industries, as well as many ethical questions related to these activities are explored. Films also have a key role in this course. Students watch at least two movies per quarter and analyze a variety of cultural aspects through class discussion.
Through this course, students are able to expand their cultural horizons by identifying the contributions of Hispanic athletes in the world. In other words, this subject encourages the students to deepen their understanding of the rich culture of Hispanic countries through sports while targeting its economic and social impact in a global society. Class work includes individual and group projects. In addition, students have the opportunity for hands-on experiences involving these activities.
Ethics, Economics, and Cultural Impacts of Sport in the Hispanosphere is taught in English and is open to all students. The course would be particularly interesting for any student with a passion for sports in general but especially any student who wants to expand their global citizenship and critical thinking skills through a deeper study and understanding of the role of sports in the Hispanic world and in society in general.
Discussions that Expand Cultural Horizons
In this class, we discuss the different philosophies of the biggest soccer teams in Spain. For instance, we learn about La Masía (F.C. Barcelona’s training facility) and the values that the young players from all over the world acquire if they are talented enough to be part of F.C. Barcelona. These values (sportsmanship, leadership, commitment, perseverance, etc.) make people refer to F.C. Barcelona as Más que un club (More than a club).
We discuss ethical matters such as whether players under the age of sixteen from other parts of the world should join powerful soccer teams from Europe. FIFA (French for International Federation of Association Football) prohibits this practice to protect kids from leaving their families so prematurely. However, FIFA does not take into consideration the fact that in many cases the parents are willing to move to Europe to realize their child’s dream of playing the sport.
We also discuss the legacy of golfer Severiano Ballesteros in Spain, not only in terms of the sport of golf but in terms of economic impact in the second most visited country in the world. Before Seve, golf was very unpopular in Spain. After his great accomplishments (two Masters championships among other majors) the Spanish golf industry developed in such a way that it is now part of the 13-billion-euro industry in Europe. I believe that, without the role of Seve in Spain’s golf and in golf worldwide, we would not recognize José María Olazábal, Sergio García and many other great Spanish golf players nowadays.
What I like the most about this class is that the students are given the chance to be more active in their participation and involvement in class compared with more traditional class environments. In fact, there are no tests or exams. This is because the students are graded based on the presentations, projects, and discussions that take place in the classroom. Furthermore, students’ suggestions are addressed, provided that they are feasible. For instance, while discussing the legacy of golfer Severiano Ballesteros, the students suggested going to TopGolf. I thought that this was a great idea that would exemplify along with the hands-on experiences mentioned in the course description.
Sergio Ramos was born and raised in the Canary Islands, Spain and is a native Spanish speaker. He graduated from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, with a bachelor's in English philology (this field is mainly focused on the teaching of English as a second language in Spain). He also has a master's degree in education awarded by the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. He has experience teaching in the Spanish public school system and has been teaching Spanish at Episcopal High School since 2005. He has taught almost every level in the Middle and Upper School.
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. John 13:15 NIV
As Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, He shared a message of grace that has inspired generations for centuries. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, we’re called to love and serve one another,” says Lower School religion teacher Jenny Koenig. “That help comes in many forms and can be a simple hug or sharing a homework assignment with a friend who doesn’t have it.” The message is so simple and relatable that even a child can grasp it, and that’s exactly what happened recently in Episcopal’s Lower School.
First quarter fifth grade religion students were tasked with organizing a campus service project. They studied service examples from the Bible to get inspiration for the project. As they studied stories such as the Good Samaritan, they suggested ideas ranging from a lemonade stand to blessing bags. Koenig says while these ideas were good, she wanted the students to create a project that would take place on campus and that would not require funds or resources. Her goal was for the students to do something that required their compassion or empathy, time and talent. As they delved deeper into biblical examples, Koenig showed students artistic depictions of Jesus washing the feet of His followers. There was even a video of an actor portraying Jesus as He knelt to perform this act of service. It was at this moment that a student said, “What if we help little kids learn to tie their shoes?” Koenig was blown away with the suggestion, and with the connection the student made between Jesus’ act of service and the act of service that the fifth graders could do today.
The students were enthusiastic about the project and quickly began planning. “They were 100% invested,” says Koenig. The students began the effort by deciding which age group to target. They observed their Lower School classmates and reported back that the kindergarten and first grade students seemed to be an ideal group. They had noticed the younger students dragging their shoelaces along beside them, tripping over long laces or holding up the line as they stopped to wrestle with the loops. Once the target grade was determined, the students spent the next few weeks planning. Koenig says they put their heart into helping their classmates. They role-played how to teach a younger student and they discussed the need for extra shoes to help students without laces. The project was infused with enthusiasm and joy. They named it the Happy Feet Clinic.
When the day finally arrived for the older students to teach their younger counterparts, there was much excitement among the fifth graders as they anticipated the arrival of their first grade friends. The older students were gracious hosts. “It’s lovely to meet you,” one student said after introducing herself. The students paired up and worked quietly together on the religion room rug. Fifth graders provided encouragement and patient instruction. With the shyness of a first grader, the younger students paid careful attention to the instruction and were eager to learn this important skill or even show off what they already knew about shoe tying. It was a remarkable and powerful moment.
Every first grader attending the Happy Feet Clinic received a handmade participation certificate. The fifth graders created more than 40 of these souvenirs, drawing and writing every detail. Koenig says they hoped the younger students would keep them to remember the experience. Several of the first graders also left with a new skill – the ability to tie their own shoe. There was shocked pride on their faces as they made the first loop and mastered this new skill. While not all of the students learned to tie their shoe, they all certainly gave it their best effort. Regardless, the fifth grade students were compassionate and kind.
Problem solving. The opportunity to teach another. Empowerment. Koenig says there was a lot more taking place at the Happy Feet Clinic than simply learning to tie a knot or make a bow. She says the students have bonded and they now speak to each other on campus. “Their perspective changed,” Koenig says. “They’ve seen that it can be that simple to help another.”
“It felt good knowing that we taught someone how to tie their shoe.”
“I never knew how fun tying shoes could be.”
“One of my buddies didn’t learn but it’s okay because he still tried very hard.”
“One thing I have learned is that tying shoes can be a big accomplishment.”
The Happy Feet Clinic was a simple gesture with a big impact. It’s a meaningful example of the Episcopal experience as an unexpected lesson makes a lasting impression. It’s also a great reminder of that ageless lesson taught so long ago. Like the fifth graders, we hope you’ll be inspired by the message. How will you serve today?
It was a fun-filled week on Episcopal’s campus as students celebrated Homecoming. All three divisions displayed school spirit with theme dress days, pep rallies and campus decorating. Everything culminated with the Knights' Homecoming victory over Catholic Pointe Coupee. Congratulations to the 2019 Episcopal Homecoming King and Queen - Griff Strain and Sarah Collier!
Alumni also got in on the celebration with a Cochon De Lait in the alumni tent. We hope the classes of 1979 and 1989 enjoyed their time back on campus.
determination among those with the dream and they would not be deterred. The group hired A. Hays Town to design the master plan for the campus and groundbreaking ceremonies were held. Once the process was underway, progress moved quickly with the building of Perkins Hall, a cafeteria-auditorium and plans for a Chapel.
September 22, 1968
More than 260 students attended fifth through eleventh grades at the new Episcopal campus.
The first Episcopal graduating class completed their term. Mary Jeanne Higgs was the first valedictorian and Mary Kay Guidry was the salutatorian. Marlene Chaudoir was the first to receive an Episcopal High School diploma.
With the first graduating class moving on, school organizers were focused on growing the school. According to Brown’s account, by the fall of 1970 “a boys’ gymnasium and a middle school building were completed” and the Chapel was under construction. In the early ‘70’s, Aldrich Library was dedicated and the original Middle School building was designated as Penniman Hall. Expansion and growth continued and in the fall of 1985, Foster Hall was complete, adding space for science learning.
Expansion on Episcopal’s campus continued with the Lower School building in the late 80’s, Frazer Hall in 1995 and the current Middle School building in 1998. The 2000’s began with the opening of the Visual and Performing Arts Center. However, the school’s growth was not without obstacles. Throughout its history, the school community has united in moments of hardship. School leaders have remained true to the original vision, providing the needed leadership to overcome challenges.
Who could forget, more recently, in August 2016 Episcopal faced the flood that impacted so many in the area. The main gym, Phillips gym, Lower School, Penniman Hall, courts and fields were damaged. Countless families, faculty and staff were personally impacted. However, winds, fire and flood could not dampen the spirit of the Episcopal community. After each obstacle faced, the community rebuilt, repaired and recovered.
According to Carroll Brown’s account of the school, “Episcopal High School very early gained a reputation for academic endeavor that continues to the present.” In April of 1972, the Episcopal chapter of the National Honor Society was established. In 1977, Bruce Ray and Mark Townsend earned National Merit finalist status. By 1984, Episcopal students were reported to have applied to 58 different colleges. More recently, the community celebrated eleven National Merit Semifinalists and three Commended Scholars among the Class of 2020. In addition, members of the Class of 2019 are now studying at a range of universities, including highly selective schools and schools with a Louisiana legacy.
Early on, the recognition also came in from external sources. Episcopal was named an Exemplary School by the U.S. Department of Education in 1987. Fr. Hancock joined officials from 271 other exemplary schools in a ceremony at the White House in October of that year. Episcopal would again earn the designation of Exemplary School in 1991. In addition, Episcopal was named an Honor School by the Chief of Naval Education and Training in 1990 and 1994.
The commitment to academic rigor continues to be a hallmark of the Episcopal experience today. During Head of School Hugh M. McIntosh’s tenure, Episcopal students have consistently raised the academic bar. Students are returning to campus post-graduation to report that the school prepared them exceptionally well for their college studies. They feel equipped and inspired to take on the role of leader and make a difference in the world.
Growth for the Next Generation
Carroll Brown’s historic account of Episcopal’s story begins with the school’s groundbreaking on a rural tract of land and follows the process of creating a new school, maintaining that new school and adjusting to progress and advancement. Brown ends his account with an epilogue entitled “Count Your Blessings.” In it, he highlights the computer problem that was predicted when the year moved from 1999 to 2000. “However, at Episcopal there was no real concern,” Brown writes. “Confidence in God-given human intelligence was high. It was just another technological challenge to be met.” Brown attributed that confidence to Episcopal’s assets, which at the time included “beautiful facilities, able students, an excellent faculty, forward looking administrators, dedicated parents, generous benefactors, and a solid reputation.” Now, in 2019 those assets remain as the school expands to meet the needs of the next generation of leaders.
The Episcopal community celebrated the groundbreaking of the first new academic building on campus in over a decade. The Academic Commons houses 17 classrooms, lab and project space, an engineering and robotics suite and an entrepreneurial studies center. In addition, the entrance of the facility showcases a courtyard-size periodic table. “This building is part of the Episcopal School of Baton Rouge dream,” said Head of School Hugh McIntosh during the ribbon cutting ceremony in August 2018. He added that the dream is to provide students with a nationally competitive education led by great teachers in modern facilities, preparing them to be productive, adult citizens of Baton Rouge.
With shovels in hand, Episcopal leaders and athletic team members broke ground on the new Episcopal athletic field house. The facility is the first new athletic building on campus since the 1980’s. The multi-use facility will be used by all students in all divisions for physical education classes, strength training and interscholastic sports. Episcopal has had a tremendous athletic program since the day when Adrian Wilcombe scored the first Knights touchdown in school history in a win over River Oaks Academy. The field house will be a reminder of the championships and success stories since those early days.
Episcopal leaders announced the intention to create the Episcopal Quest Center within a renovated Foster Hall. The center will once again bring the building to life with the joy and enthusiasm of students learning. Fundraising and planning efforts are underway now to make this dream a reality.
A new Episcopal Head of School will be announced after a nationwide search. The new head will join the list of previous school leaders which include Rev. Ralph Webster, Rev. Paul Hancock, Kay Betts and Hugh M. McIntosh. Under McIntosh’s leadership, Episcopal students have excelled. Students conduct university-level research in the ESTAAR program, they travel to countries across the globe for cultural exchanges and they are recognized locally and nationally for academic excellence. Students are exploring their interests and participating in athletics with the opportunity to play and achieve, thanks to the school’s carefully planned enrollment. They are developing empathy and learning to express themselves creatively through a range of artistic opportunities provided by a robust arts department. The campus is a place for all faiths and all backgrounds. The faculty is experienced, qualified and ready for the next 50 years.
Episcopal’s story is still being written. What began as the dream of a determined group has flourished under the steadfast guidance of the current Head of School. Now you can help us write this next chapter by telling others about the Episcopal experience or even by reserving a naming opportunity. Now is the time to be a part of the Episcopal story as we look toward the next 50 years of preparing the next generation of leaders for lives of purpose and meaning. We hope you will join us.
What's in a Name?
Aldrich Library – named for Ella Lanier Aldrich, the mother of Ella V. Schwing who donated the funds for the library.
Foster Hall – named for Willie Palfrey Foster, grandmother to the Bailey family who contributed funds to support construction of the Upper School science building.
Frazer Hall – named for Thomas and Lynnette Frazer, longtime Episcopal supporters.
Lewis Family Memorial Chapel of the Good Shepherd - named for A.C. Lewis, Jr.
Penniman Hall (originally the Middle School building) – named for Mary Virginia Crain Penniman, the former wife of 1969 -1975 board president G. Allen Penniman, Jr.
Perkins Hall – named for Paul Perkins who donated property to the school which allowed the retirement of debt on the main building.
Phillips Gym - named in memory of Annslee Laura Phillips.
Webster Refectory – named for the school’s first Head of School, Fr. Webster. At the same time that the building was named in his honor, Fr. Webster was also named Headmaster Emeritus.
Imagine that it’s your job to make imaginary worlds come alive. It is your pencil and your hand that illustrates a character or a scene. Such an assignment requires a tremendous amount of creativity and perseverance. Such an assignment is perfect for Episcopal graduate Miguel Jiron ’02.
Jiron is a storyboard artist in Los Angeles, California. He says a storyboard artist’s job is to “visually interpret a movie scene, sometimes before a script is even finalized.” Jiron draws out any given scene through hundreds of drawings, figuring out staging, camera, acting, sometimes even the writing, which then gets cut to music and dialogue to get a rough idea of how the scene will play out in the movie. An entire team of artists spends countless hours working together frame by frame to get every detail just right. There are constant edits and revisions along the way. Jiron says the process generally takes three to four years before the final product is ready for theaters. While the process is long and intense, he says “it’s incredibly satisfying.”
Recently, Jiron had the satisfaction of being a part of the team that put together the Oscar-winning film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Jiron says the team never expected the film to win such acclaim. “We were trying just to finish the film and make it as good as we could,” he says. Jiron says the team was working right up to the last minute. Ultimately, that work paid off. “It’s incredible to be a part of this so early in my career,” says Jiron. “I learned so much.”
Spending so much time working on the project truly became a family affair for Jiron. His wife, Katie Baron, worked on the project as a junior executive and his now one and a half year old daughter, Lucia Jiron, was born during production. All three have credits in the film. The movie premiere was also a family affair for Jiron as he invited his mom to celebrate with him. The experience is something he won’t soon forget. “She could see so much of me in the movie,” he says.
Jiron has been creating art for as long as he can remember. “I’ve been drawing since I was two,” he says. He began attending Episcopal in the fourth grade and cultivated his artistic talents throughout his time on campus as a member of the film club, the art club and the thespians. Jiron also remembers designing numerous Episcopal t-shirts as a student. In fact, if you’re a graduate with a Valentine or Sadie Hawkins shirt from the late 90’s or early 2000’s, he was likely the designer.
Jiron knew early on what type of career he wanted to pursue. “At Episcopal I was very clear in saying I wanted to be an animator,” he says. In fact, the 2002 yearbook includes a somewhat foreshadowing quote. “My favorite part about film club was getting together and coming up with story ideas and working scripts.”
Jiron says Episcopal played a large role in making him the man he is today. He credits the school with helping him develop critical thinking skills and with encouraging him to think independently. As a member of the Honors program, he remembers discussing a range of topics with his classmates and teachers and how those discussions helped him think for himself and find his own voice. He says the future-oriented, ambitious Episcopal experience also gave him the confidence he needed to eventually be successful in a career such as animation.
Episcopal Arts Department Chair Paige Gagliano is not at all surprised with Jiron’s success. She remembers working with Jiron and his classmates on the production of Peter Pan, which was one of the first large performances in the VPAC. “Miguel was a fearless actor,” she says. “If you’re a fearless actor then you’re a fearless human being.” Gagliano says whether it was working with other students, participating in a theater retreat at the Solomon Center or running lines for a play, Jiron always had a great sense of humor and a wonderful laugh. She says he was also always willing to take risks. “Miguel always wanted to stay true to the authenticity of what he was doing,” says Gagliano. “He was a great storyteller.”
All of these traits have served Jiron well throughout his career, which included a stint in New York working with contemporary artist Takashi Murakami. After realizing that his own paintings and art were moving toward motion, Jiron returned to animation. Now, when he thinks about current Episcopal students, he encourages them to pursue their dreams, even while they are still in school. “Just do it,” he says. “Don’t wait for someone to hand it to you or give you the perfect job.” Jiron says that is especially true for students who are interested in a career similar to his own. He says the tools to create are readily available for young artists. “Start making stuff,” he says. “The more you make, the faster you’ll grow.”
No doubt, with Jiron’s early success, his career will continue to grow. Already, he has credits as a director, editor and producer in addition to his work as a storyboard artist. He is also taking on leadership roles in the art department, serving as the Head of Story. Recently, he directed and wrote an animated short entitled “Spider-Ham: Into the Spider-Verse.” Spider-Ham demands “full screen treatment” in the film, which is something that Jiron certainly deserves for his talents.
Congratulations on your success, Miguel. We can’t wait to see what you create next!