Episcopal third graders recently celebrated all things Louisiana. The annual project-based learning unit on the state offered students a taste of Cajun cuisine, lessons in Cajun dancing and an opportunity to create their own Bayou State Blue Dog. In addition, students took field trips to the Rural Life Museum, the Old State Capitol and the new state capitol. What a great, and tasty, way to learn about our city and state culture!
There was shaking and tilting in Ms. Stacy Hill’s science class. After learning about earthquakes, students tested their ability to construct a building sturdy enough to withstand the elements. Using tape, craft sticks, paper and cardboard, students had to erect a structure 30 cm tall with three floors of 10 cm each. The students were actually quite successful in their designs with some of them withstanding a 36 or even 42 degree tilt before falling.
“Can we try again just for fun?” Even after the students performed the initial tilt table and shake tests, they were inspired to continue making revisions. Students said they enjoyed the experience because of the opportunity to create their own design. What a great example of how learning is fun at Episcopal!
Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor hail, nor even mud could deter them. No, we’re not talking about the post office. We’re talking about members of the Episcopal cross country team. At one of the muddiest, wettest and coldest state championship meets in recent memory, the boys continued their streak by earning their 23rd straight state championship title. The Episcopal girls also came home with a state title of their own. To accomplish this, both squads had to face unpleasantness on the course.
Head Coach Claney Duplechin says in 35 years of coaching cross country he and his teams have faced seven or eight meets with very bad conditions, but nothing to the degree of what the teams faced on November 12th in Natchitoches. There was mud – deep, wet mud that refused to let go of the runners’ legs as they took each stride. It was cold – very cold, in the forties in Louisiana, cold. However, the Knights were undeterred. In fact, Coach Dupe says such conditions are actually ideal for his team. He says regardless of weather conditions practice must go on. “We’re running no matter what,” says Coach Dupe, emphasizing that sticking with a strict schedule allows the team to catch up, and eventually surpass, competitors.
The mud wasn’t the only thing that made the 2018 state meet special. The Episcopal girls went into the contest ranked behind a Menard team that defeated contenders by 100 points in late October. However, the Knights worked hard and believed they could finish strong. And they did, beating Menard by six points and bringing the title home. “That was one of my most enjoyable coaching times,” says Coach Dupe. He says there were happy tears among the runners as the boys and girls celebrated as one team - both champions. As Coach Dupe reflects on the long hours and hard work put in by the girls to make their dream a reality, he realizes that this muddy victory truly was special. “It’s just so fun when good people do win,” he says.
Coach Dupe says in the end it won’t be the winning that the athletes remember. “Getting to the winning – working hard to reach a goal,” are what Coach says will matter in the long run. That, and the friendships forged as they trudged through the mud and celebrated each other’s triumphs.
Congratulations 2018 Episcopal Cross Country team!
Go Knights! Good People! Have Fun! State Champs!
Greetings from Episcopal. The holiday season is a magical time at Episcopal. The campus is a buzz with Christmas parties, musical concerts and spiritual reflection. Students are busy completing assignments before they embark on a much earned two week break and faculty are working to finish the first semester on a high note.
We know that admission deadlines get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season; we’ve therefore listed a few important Episcopal admission deadlines below. While our offices will be closed December 22nd through January 6th, the online application is available at any time and we look forward to answering any of your questions when we return on January 7th.
May your home be filled with joy, love and peace during this holiday season.
With visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, Episcopal Lower School students celebrated the holidays with the anticipation and excitement that only comes this time of year. Every Knight, from the tall to the small, shared in the joy. Enjoy the sights of the season at Episcopal. We can’t wait to see what the New Year brings!
According to code.org, while 90% of parents want their child to study computer science, only 35% of high schools actually teach it. Episcopal not only teaches computer science in Upper School, but also in Lower and Middle School.
As early as PreK-3, Episcopal students are exposed to computers and coding in age-appropriate lessons. For example, during Computer Science Education Week (December 3rd – 9th), Lower School students participated in a holiday-themed activity using Ozobots. Academic Technology Coordinator Betsy Minton says the bot is ideal for younger students because it can be used without a screen and it only requires a student to use colors to guide it along.
“We try to embed computer science and coding into our curriculum as much as possible in the Lower School, especially with their projects,” says Minton. She says as students progress in their educational journey, the opportunities for computer science learning also advance. “Students in fourth and fifth grade are taught more systematically through science and enrichment and eighth graders in integrated science classes learn coding,” she says. In addition, there are numerous opportunities for students to participate in robotics in Middle and Upper School. There are even opportunities specifically for female students through the Girls Who Code group who meets twice a month.
Episcopal Upper School students also have the opportunity to take AP Computer Science Principles. According to the College Board, the course focuses on the fundamentals of computing, including problem solving, working with data, understanding the internet, cybersecurity and programming. Such a course is not just for future computer programmers. The College Board lists 130 career areas and 48 college majors that may be of interest to students who take the class. These careers range from computer and information systems managers to food scientists and craft artists.
Episcopal Upper School teacher Dr. Jeff McLean teaches two sessions of the course. He says the course content is “very approachable” for students with varying degrees of computer knowledge and previous coding experience is not required. Over the course of the year, students learn about everything from binary messages and file types to the internet and encryption. The curriculum includes highlights from well-known computer gurus like Bill Gates and celebrity appearances from musicians and athletes discussing the relevance of computers in all aspects of modern life. While Dr. McLean says he realizes that not all of the 28 students taking the course will go on to pursue a degree in computer science, the course still has tremendous value. “It opens up a whole new set of tools for them,” he says.
Dr. McLean says lessons learned from the course will empower students to be creators of technology rather than simply users of technology. This process is already underway, as students become more comfortable with computer concepts and less intimidated by the topic. Ultimately, students will create their own application, which Dr. McLean says will serve as a tangible takeaway from the class that can be shared with others.
Embracing computer science and technology means more than career and salary potential. Recently, Minton spoke to Lower School students in Morning Meeting regarding the connection between computers and peace. She shared with students that people in the world are using computer capabilities to make positive changes. For example, a middle school student in Los Angeles, California created the award winning Sit With Us app after experiencing bullying in her own life. The app connects students with each other in the hope that no one eats lunch alone. Minton also told students about how UNICEF embraced the kindness of young people and their everyday activity to provide meals and resources to children in need. Students with smart devices can download an app that tracks their movement and activities and as they earn activity points, UNICEF donates food to others.
Today’s 17 year olds were born the same year that the Xbox and iPod were introduced to the world. In 2001, Windows XP, iTunes and XM Radio were also released. Computers have been a part of students’ lives from the very beginning. By learning how to harness the power and capabilities of such technology, students will be better prepared for a world of continued technological advancements.
Oregon Trail, floppy disks. What's your favorite computer memory? Share it with us in the comments below.
These are just a few of the random acts of kindness displayed recently by Episcopal Middle School students. While such acts may seem small to some, they truly are worthy of recognition. Think about how you felt the last time someone did something unexpectedly kind for you. Maybe someone opened the door for you when you were struggling with an armload of holiday packages. Or, perhaps a fellow motorist let you over in Baton Rouge traffic. Such a small act can go a long way. In fact, according to research conducted by Jamil Zaki, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, that small act of kindness may also inspire you to reciprocate with your own act of kindness. In an article for Scientific American, Professor Zaki says “that kindness itself is contagious.” If kindness is contagious, what better place for it to be fostered than among the next generation of leaders?
Kindness is actively encouraged and fostered in Episcopal Middle School. This focus is year round and not just during the season of giving or a designated week. As students deal with the changes that occur within themselves, their peers and their world, a simple act of kindness can boost a mood, make a day and improve a life. Given this, the division’s Peer Leaders created the Middle School kindness boxes. These three little shoe boxes were glued, labeled and crafted by the students, similar to the boxes used by Lower School students to collect Valentine’s Day cards. Each box was placed in the grade-level social studies classroom, along with slips of paper that students and teachers can use to recognize someone for a good deed.
Counselor Alicia Kelly says the goal is to encourage kindness and recognize it in action. She says developmentally, Middle School students are traditionally focused on themselves, making kindness and concern for others a challenge. However, projects such as the kindness boxes help students think beyond themselves. Kelly also hopes the boxes make it “cool” to be kind, as students earn positive recognition from adults and their peers.
Each month, kind students are publicly recognized during the Middle School morning meeting. Peer Leaders read aloud the most compelling acts of kindness performed. To make a strong impression among the teens, students also receive a candy bag filled with sweet treats in honor of their sweet intentions.
“One of the most important ways we can prepare our students for success and the ‘purposeful lives’ that our mission and ministry statement references is to help them develop empathy, the ability to view life situations from others' perspectives,” says Middle School Division Head Lucy Smith. “Noticing and reinforcing their acts of kindness not only helps to promote empathy in individual students, but also helps all of us as we strive to be a safer, more respectful, and kinder community.”
Smith, along with the Middle School teachers, have actively embraced the theme of kindness this school year. After summer training sessions on student social/emotional learning, Middle School teachers were inspired to make kindness a top priority among sixth, seventh and eighth grade students. The Middle School Honor Code was amended to include a reference to kindness to emphasize its importance. That focus on kindness has now swept through Middle School. For example, you can find kindness reminders on display in the sixth grade science class and kindness themes are found in the books chosen by English teachers. Hopefully, this strong commitment to caring and compassion will have a lasting impact on students as they grow to lead lives of purpose and meaning.
This holiday season and year round, how do you and yours share acts of kindness? Share them in our comments section below. You could inspire others to do the same!
Madeleine Cope, Senior Thesis Student and Dancer, compels us to get out from behind our desks and utilize movement in our learning experiences.
What does dance mean to us? Is it an art form, utilized for its expression and creativity? Is it an athletic form that can lead dancers down an elitist path as we see in reality competition shows? Or, is it an enjoyable activity pursued by people all around the country for sheer pleasure and enjoyment? Whether we know it or not, we witness dance more often than we think. From seeing it on TV, on the VPAC mainstage , or even at social events, we can all admit that dance is a platform for expression that has been an element of life for as long as we have known. Although we have seen dance via different mediums for ages, it seems as though we haven’t utilized dance for what all it can do for us. Recent research has shown that dance can have meaningful benefits outside of places like a stage or TV screen; in fact, it can be utilized in our daily lives during a school day for our academic success.
Cognitive psychology teaches us that to create long-term memories, we have to make our material and ideas personally meaningful to us. This is accomplished by associating knowledge with other concepts or activities we have experienced. Jane Bonbright, a researcher for the National Dance Education Organization, notes that retention can also be facilitated and catalyzed by incorporating more areas of the brain in the initial encoding process for establishing long-term memories. Because dance can combine all of these psychological concepts and provide as an active and engaging learning system for children, it has the ability to be a great device for not only teaching children of young ages but for establishing well-suited academic habits in its students. Although it may seem a bit hasty, or even a bit radical, we should start considering dance as a way to facilitate brain development and the creation of higher retention rates among young learners.
In Jamie Steele’s research study for the Journal of Dance Education, she focused on the academic success of a fifth-grade class learning about different means of energy through dance. Steele not only found that the students left the class with greater communication skills from the group assignment but the students were able to, “...explain (1) visually through diagrams, (2) kinesthetically through dances, (3) verbally through explanation, and (4) manually through a [hands on project]." In this sense, Steele discovered what researchers like Bonright have recently uncovered: that dance can combine many of the essential skills needed by modern young students to succeed, while also being able to allow children to learn via an active format that enables the brain to facilitate the creation of long-term memory.
Needless to say, dance has some untapped benefits for young learners that most of us did not even realize. Knowing this, we must question: why haven’t all schools utilized dance education or other active learning methods like it so that students may reap its benefits? While traditional learning methods are often effective, I argue that experimenting with the use of active learning systems, like dance, may allow students to reach an untapped potential that will enable them to have better academic success. As Dr. Adrienne Sansom writes, “[Dance] is a modality [that] helps us gain knowledge through the body and grasp the essence of learning from within, connecting to ourselves in the deepest, most direct ways.” If we take Dr. Sansom’s sentiment and learn to apply it to an upcoming generation of learners, not only will they be able to make deep connections to their content, but they may be able to see inward and discover the value of meaningful learning.
Madeleine Cope has been a student at Episcopal since Pre-K and is currently a high school senior. In addition to her involvement with the Honors Thesis program, Madeleine participates in Episcopal’s Dance Ensemble, acts as Co-Choreographer for Episcopal’s Lower and Middle School musical productions, participates in Episcopal theatre productions, and is a Math Tutor for Episcopal’s Math Center. Her thesis revolves around the concept of utilizing new education methods, especially those involving dance education and active learning environments.
Senior Thesis Student and Oboist, Lauren Smith, shares ideas from her thesis, arguing for more inclusive and diverse classical arts, which would allow all children to see themselves represented on the stage.
Music has the ability to touch the souls of individuals and move the masses. It has been at the center of social revolutions, and its captivating nature has withstood the test of time. We are fortunate here at Episcopal to have access to many art forms and opportunities. It was here where I first became a musician, picked up an instrument, and had the opportunity to join a musical ensemble.
A particular genre that has truly revolutionized almost all music that we hear today is classical music. Without it, the world would be quite a dull place. “Classical music” is a broad and insufficient term used to describe a plethora of music types, and sometimes we tend to forget that. Its elements exist in your favorite songs and movies, and surprisingly, it even played a tremendous role in the innovation of hip-hop and pop music.
The “orchestra hit” is one of the most used samples in pop and hip-hop music. Its sound takes the form of a musical bang that draws the audience in and helps drive the song’s beat. The orchestra hit was originally sampled in the early 1980s by Peter Vogel, the same person that created one of the first sampling and sequencing synthesizers in the mid-1970s. This sample was from Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird, which was originally scored in 1910. The particular moment in Firebird that the orchestra hit was sampled from was at the beginning of a scene called “Danse Infernale du Roi Kastchei.”
Though classical music may be everywhere, when it is performed in its traditional essence, it is quite exclusive. The full glory and splendor of classical music is not available for everyone to enjoy freely. There are a plethora of reasons supporting why classical music is indefinitely reserved for people of a certain demographic, but the stigmas attached to the music type as well as socioeconomic, historical, and psychological factors all play a role in why this art form is still so rooted in a traditionalistic mindset, despite the progressiveness of other art forms.
People love to have role models, especially when they look like us. Where the problem lies in classical music is that there are not enough role models for black and brown artists. Yes, there are some, but the amount is miniscule. In solely American orchestras as of 2016, less than 1.8% of participants were black and less than 2.5% were Hispanic. That amount is even less for ethnic participants when assessed on a global scale, especially considering that classical music, as most recognize it, is originally from the Eastern Hemisphere of the world, particularly Europe, although it has rhythmic and percussive influences as well as modal influences from Africa and Asia.
When I was much younger, I loved to watch performances of the Berlin Philharmonic, one of the world’s leading orchestras. The performances I watched on YouTube most definitely contributed to my ever-growing love for classical music. As much as I looked up to each and every performer, particularly the oboists and the conductors, I always found it difficult to truly see myself playing among them, let alone conducting the musicians, as an adult. I felt so distanced from the classical musicians that passionately played their instruments on my computer screen.
Yes, it was and is a dream of mine, but I never saw anyone else that looked like me to demonstrate that it was a legitimate possibility.
Classical music is expensive. Buying instruments (many of which cost thousands of dollars), the materials needed to play (e.g., reeds, ligatures, tools), and paying for lessons are some examples of the tedious expenses required to be considered as a classical instrumentalist. For musicians coming from underserved communities, which are oftentimes densely populated by people of color, receiving a musical education of the same caliber of their mostly white counterparts is especially difficult due to the prominent socioeconomic disadvantages.
As human beings, we all have preferences, whether implicit or explicit. When it comes to viewing performers on a stage, due to general social psychology that has been influenced and molded by history and racist justifications, if a ballet or symphony is being performed, the performers are expected to be white. So much so that the very principles of ballet performance are centered around identicality and the reference is a white-skinned, fairy-like performer. Even in symphonic performances, visual aesthetic preferences may lead people to expect a stage composed of similar looking people due to the art forms’ emphasis on symmetry and synchronization.
Diversifying the arts, specifically classical music is essential to its growth and ultimately its survival. The traditional aura surrounding classical music as it relates to what type of people are the dominant performers and observers is counterintuitive to the definition of art. Art is a “diverse” range of creative activities, but in classical art that is still performed today, the diversity element is inadequate. Diversifying classical music does not necessarily mean contemporizing the music itself, but rather taking measures to make it more inclusive for all individuals, especially because it is such a powerful medium of expression that can be life-changing for anybody no matter their skin color.
Lauren Smith has been an Episcopal student since Kindergarten, and she is currently a high school senior. She is a member of the Honors Thesis Program, and her thesis addresses the lack of representation in classical art forms, specifically in classical music and ballet, and how in order for the arts to progress, diversity is a necessity. Lauren is an avid participant in the arts. She is in Episcopal’s Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Jazz Band, the Louisiana Youth Orchestra, and a variety of other ensembles. Lauren is also an Episcopal athlete who has participated in numerous sports over the years, and she plays multiple other instruments aside from the oboe, including the piano, saxophone, and clarinet.
Episcopal student artists are sharing the joy of the season with song, dance and music. Here's a look at recent festivities on campus and throughout the Baton Rouge community.
Photos provided by Episcopal senior Mason LaFerney.
Beyond Woodland Ridge
Congratulations to Episcopal students who are sharing their art with the Greater Baton Rouge community.