It’s beginning to look a lot like – winter sports time! Basketball, soccer and wrestling are underway.
Head Coach Chris Beckman says the team has already had a buzzer beater this season with a 48 to 47 win over Holy Cross. The Knights were down by five with two minutes left in the game and rallied back to take the win. He says seniors Cameron Dumas and Brandan Garrido should have a big impact on the team as the entire group looks to improve on ball handling in pressure situations with the hopes of putting up enough victories to make it to a state championship. Look for these exciting match-ups this season:
Coach Kiran Booluck says this year’s team looks to overcome last year’s loss in the finals by working their way back and bringing home the state championship. The team will be led by seniors Chima Mbagwu, Logan Robertson, Frank Poche and sophomore Tochi Mbagwu, and is already off to an exciting start with a recent tie with Dutchtown. Key games to watch include:
Congratulations to Griffin Dynes, who earned an individual victory at the Central tournament! Congratulations also to freshman William Guffey who came home with his first two varsity wins! Coach Phil Bode says look for Griffin and fellow seniors Henry Stater and William Kennedy to fight hard for the team this year. Key dates include:
Randy is in his second year as Athletic Director at Episcopal School of Baton Rouge. Randy is from Baton Rouge and attended Catholic High School before moving to Ruston to earn a degree in education from Louisiana Tech University. Since joining Episcopal in 2002, Randy has served in many capacities including Dean of Students, the Physical Education Department Chair, teacher, and coach for a variety of boy’s and girl’s upper school athletic teams.
December at a school is a sensory experience. Despite the recent chill, the campus is a little greener with holiday decor. A few white, paper snowflakes have even been spotted decorating windows. A quick stroll through Lower School and you are immediately aware of the time of year. The nativity is filling up and the Advent flame is glowing. There are brightly colored, children’s drawings announcing that Santa is on his way. There are even notes in first grade handwriting asking the Grinch not to steal Christmas!
Of course the Chapel, too, is emanating cheer and joy. It is dressed in green wreaths, red ribbons and white twinkling lights. This recently set the stage for the annual Lessons and Carols performance by the Upper School choir. The event, now in its 14th year at Episcopal, has become a holiday tradition, providing the sounds of the season.
The Lessons and Carols service originated at King’s College in Cambridge, England in 1918 and takes the audience on a musical journey through the Bible. Performers begin lined along the Chapel walls as a solo voice heralds “Once in Royal David’s City”. The experience is intimate and personal. The teenagers performing seem professional and poised in all black. As the Biblical journey unfolds, the audience begins to join in with the sounds of “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World”.
As December marches on, more sights and sounds of the season will be seen and heard. Candles will be lit and gifts will be exchanged. There will be the hustle, bustle and stress of mid-term exams and the hustle, bustle and squeals of Lower School parties. This will give way to the calm, quiet and peace of the mid-year break, followed by January’s fresh faces and the promise of a new year.
Then before you know it, there will be the sights and sounds of the end of the year. White dresses and suits and pomp and circumstance.
A google search of the word “empathy” reveals over a billion results. The term, which means the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, has become somewhat of a buzzword. Research by one of Episcopal’s own has shown that the concept is much more than just noise.
Martha Guarisco, a sixth grade English teacher with a love for young adult fiction, didn’t set out to study empathy and how a book can help foster it. It was a passion for a transformative book and being at the right place at the right time that led to a two year study with the results eventually being published in three journals and cited by many others.
In 2014 Martha attended a Youth Adult Literacy Conference where she participated in a break out session on how the Harry Potter series has boosted empathy among young adult readers (Harry Potter is another of Martha’s loves). Afterwards, she approached the guest speaker – Dr. Louise Freeman – to discuss how Martha could replicate empathy research involving a study of the novel “Wonder” by Raquel J. Palacio. That conversation sparked a study that has yielded insightful results.
Dr. Freeman advised Martha on how to measure the students’ empathy in the areas of perspective taking, emotional transport and theory of mind. Martha was amazed to discover that many of the psychological concepts correlated with common educational terms. For example, perspective taking translates to point of view in literature. Psychologists refer to a person’s tendency to transport into a fictional world as the Fantasy Scale. In English class this would be considered the reader’s engagement with the story. The psychological term “sleeper effect”, meaning it takes time for something to happen, might be called deep learning in education. Making these connections helped Martha realize that empathy is taught in the classroom without teachers even realizing it.
For the study, students took part in scenario tests and self-reporting on how a situation made them feel. They also took the eye test in which they were asked to look at someone’s eyes and guess how that person felt at the time. After the initial testing was complete, the students read the book “Wonder”. Martha taught the book as she would any other, including art projects for visualizing aspects of the book and even bringing in school counselor Alicia Kelly to discuss empathy in more detail. Afterwards students repeated the tests to compare the impact.
Martha says the results were exciting. After studying the novel students were shown to have positive changes in regards to perspective taking. This means students were better able to understand someone else’s perspective simply by reading a novel. With such success after the first year Martha conducted the same research a second year with a few changes. She allowed students to choose between Palacio’s “Wonder” and “Crossover” by Kwame Alexander. She also allowed some students to read the novels on an electronic reader while others read traditional books.
The second year results were equally as enlightening. Again the students showed marked increases in perspective taking and thus, empathy. But what Martha found even more interesting was that while both boys and girls were excited to read the books electronically, the results showed their overall comprehension decreased and there was less empathetic growth.
As an English teacher and parent all of this resonates with Martha on several levels. She says the experience confirms the significant responsibility adults have not only in suggesting books for young readers, but also in recommending reading formats. She says the research has certainly made her more cognizant in choosing books for her classroom library. She is sensitive to the fact that every child needs to see a positive reflection of themselves in a book, but that they also need to see a wide range of people different from themselves. Thoughtfully selecting these books allows students to have more intentional conversations about issues such as race, class and gender.
How do we keep this focus on empathy so that it’s not just a passing fad or buzzword? Martha says the English teacher inside her says keep reading! She says exposure to great stories and experiences will create an awareness of the world’s diversity and the variety of perspectives that exist.
Episcopal educators are doing amazing things inside and outside of the classroom. Martha’s research is just one example of the expertise these professionals provide. Check out Martha’s research here.
Looking for additional reads to encourage empathy? Here are a few of Martha’s suggestions:
Imagine if you could bring George Washington to life and help him cross the Delaware. Or maybe you want to see the characters in Charlotte’s Web actually moving and spinning. Episcopal students have the technology to do this and more.
Lower School students recently learned how Bloxels Gameboard and app helps users create their own video games. Josh Stevens, Co-Founder of Pixel Press which created Bloxels, and Richard Nava with Pixel Press’ Community Development Department visited the school to show the students firsthand how to quickly take their ideas from drawings to color-coded blocks to live action games. In no time students were playing games featuring unicorns, alien men or super heroes of their own design.
Stevens says the idea behind Bloxels is to allow students to tell a story through a video game. This happens as students create a hero, villain and background scenery. Once the blocks are in place on the 13 X 13 grid the students snap a photo with the iPad app and the image comes to life. Nava, who is a video game creator, says you used to have to know five coding languages and have a $1,000 computer to do the type of creations that can now be done simply with an app and an iPad.
Episcopal students are accustomed to technology. In Lower School they use Osmo for interactive learning on everything from spelling and counting to coding and animation. Middle School students recently used virtual reality headsets to explore distant volcanoes. There are Bee Bots, 2-D printers, 3-D printers, touch screen computers, iPads, circuit boards, and so much more.
Lower School Head Bridget Henderson says the key is to be purposeful when incorporating this technology.
Students today have so much more available to them than floppy discs and graphing calculators. Imagine what will be available twenty years from now. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that students were playing the original Oregon Trail on green screens in the computer lab!
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island,
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf stream waters,
This land was made for you and me.
-From This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie
The fourth graders recently shared their research connected with our first project-based learning unit on United States landforms and the National Parks. Research topics ranged from the Redwood Forest to the Great Smoky Mountains, Alcatraz to Ford’s Theatre, hiking to white water rafting, geysers to volcanoes, and Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir.
Students learned more about their topic by conducting research online. They presented their information on a tri-fold board or in Google Slides. Some groups extended their learning by creating activity books, building clay or Lego models, or conducting science demonstrations. These presentations were the culmination of an extensive, integrated project-based learning unit.
In science class, fourth graders learned about landforms and erosion. They also learned about specific landforms in the United States and how many of them are protected by the National Park Service. Students also used Virtual Reality viewers with the Google Expeditions app to "travel" to the National Parks. This unit extended into Social Studies, where students learned mapping skills, and into Language Arts, where students read the novel "Gone Fishing".
The enrichment teachers played an important role in enhancing our students' learning during this unit. Students learned American themed songs and movements that connected to the National Parks in Music class, which they performed for their families on presentation day. The PE teachers led an outdoor adventure unit that included kayaking in the pool, learning about fly fishing, and walking the Coach Dupe trail with veteran hiker Coach Cole. In Art, students created land art sculptures inspired by artist Andy Goldsworthy’s work. In Library, students learned the computer program Tinkercad to design a keychain connected with their research project that will be 3D printed.
The learning extended outside the classroom with a walk to nearby Jones Creek to study erosion, a field trip to the Louisiana Art and Science Museum to see a National Parks movie, and a fabulous hike to see some waterfalls at the Clark Creek Natural Area in Mississippi. Each fourth grader received a free one-year park pass from the Every Kid in a Park program, which is a national youth initiative that specifically encourages fourth graders and their families to explore our country’s natural wonders and historic sites. We hope everyone will get a chance to explore our nation’s great outdoors…from California to the Gulf Stream waters!
Rosalyn is in her sixteenth year of teaching. Prior to coming to Episcopal, she taught at independent schools in New York City and Los Angeles. She is in her second year of teaching fourth grade science and taught second grade for two years. Rosalyn earned her Bachelor's degree in Biology at Whitman College and her Master's degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education at New York University. She loves teaching science and finding ways to integrate technology and other subjects into the curriculum.
Numbers were the name of the game recently as Episcopal played host to the Mu Alpha Theta Math Tournament. This year’s tournament was double the size of last year’s with 346 students from 24 schools represented. To grow in size so quickly is a true compliment to the Episcopal Mathletes who organized and planned the entire event.
A math tournament has a game day feel. There is suspense, excitement and enthusiasm as students take individual and team tests in algebra one and two, geometry, precalculus and calculus. Students huddle together in team challenges to work toward the answers with a sense of focus and concentration. Individuals pour over test questions with determination. At the end of the day, trophies are awarded to the top students in each category and everyone celebrates a common love of math.
It is this love of math that equates to unlikely friendships and connections, creating a community for these students. Upper School math teacher Hester Sofranko says one of the best components of being a Mathlete is the camaraderie among teammates and competitors. She says students who wouldn’t normally interact, become close while solving problems together. As is often the case, common ground is found through a shared passion.
“This is a chance to come into their own,” said Sofranko. “Students are able to recognize their own potential.” The Episcopal Mathletes truly lived up to their potential with the recent tournament. The group organized the entire event doing everything from writing the tests to choosing the trophies. Sofranko says the only thing they didn’t do was calculate the competition results. For the second year in a row the event was such a success that the Mathletes were able to donate $500 from the proceeds to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.
While the Upper School students were busy making sure such a huge tournament functioned smoothly, the Middle School students were representing Episcopal competitively, with tremendous results.
The results are in!
Membership in Mu Alpha Theta creates a sense of pride for the Mathletes as it is a Mathematics Honor Society requiring students to maintain a 3.0 GPA. In addition, Episcopal Mathletes compete nationally in the American Math Competition with the hopes of qualifying for international level tournaments in the future. All of this can translate into college scholarships and admissions.
It’s a great feeling when you can find your community and celebrate your talents at the same time. For the Mathletes, this happens because of their command of calculations. They truly are a community uKnighted.
During the season of Advent, we prepare for and look forward to the coming of Christ. For the four weeks leading up to Christmas, we focus on the themes of hope, peace, joy, and love. As we reflect on how Christ brings each of these virtues to us in his coming, we consider how we might also be bearers of hope, peace, joy, and love. While Advent is a Christian holiday, the themes of hope, peace, joy, and love are far from uniquely Christian. These virtues are held by people across many different faith traditions, and we encourage all students to think about their own need for and ability to share these qualities.
In the spirit of Advent, the Lower School is participating in an Advent Challenge. Each day, students and faculty alike are encouraged to complete a specific act of kindness. These acts of kindness are simple things that can be done at home or at school (or both!). After completing the day’s challenge, the students are encouraged to write their name on a slip of paper that is kept on a bulletin board in the Greer Center. As our season of Advent progresses, we will be able to see how our acts of kindness grow in number and wrap us up in hope, peace, joy, and love as the strips are used to make a paper chain that will be stretched around the room.
To kick off the Advent Challenge, the fifth grade religion students performed a skit in Morning Meeting that was a play on Mission: Impossible. Four secret agents were tasked by the Episcopal Lower School Secret Agent Headquarters to complete daily missions as part of the Advent Challenge. The secret agents in the skit discovered that their mission was far from impossible as they completed daily missions like picking up a piece of trash, writing a thank you note, trading time on electronics for time with friends or family, and offering encouragement to someone else. The Advent Challenge was dubbed Mission: Possible, rather than Mission: Impossible.
Each day’s mission is a surprise, and the challenge is announced daily in Morning Meeting or Chapel. Lower School students have eagerly awaited an opportunity each day to complete their mission and add their name to a slip of paper. Since the beginning of the challenge, students have been caught on campus picking up trash, doing a daily task for a teacher or friend, or offering compliments to one another. Maybe you have been the recipient of one of their acts of kindness as the students were challenged to tell a family member that they love them.
Episcopal families, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to encourage your students to participate in the Advent Challenge and enjoy watching them be givers of hope, peace makers, joy bringers, and love spreaders. If your family does not celebrate Advent, talk with your student about how their participation in these acts of kindness fits your own family’s faith tradition or set of values. We hope you'll accept this mission and check back with us on social media for new Advent challenges.
Sam Oakley started as a Lower School Religion teacher at Episcopal in August 2017. She previously served as the Associate Director of the Center for Family and Community Ministries at Baylor University where she conducted research, developed resources, and edited a journal. She received her M.S.W. and M.Div. from Baylor University. Sam is married to David Oakley, who serves as the Youth and Children’s Minister at Broadmoor Baptist Church. They have three children: Elijah, Taylor, and Sadie.
The fall edition of Troubadour was an enormous success! The sheer amount of work and passion that went into the magazine is impressive in and of itself. In this edition, we received many personal pieces that were able to evoke strong emotion in almost every reader. I truly believe that we, as a community, have achieved a new level of comfort with one another through this edition of the magazine, as it both enabled us to share our stories with one another as well as asked us to be understanding and accepting of those with different life experiences than ourselves. I have greatly appreciated working with such a phenomenal team and reading poems and stories from our own student body. We are looking forward to a winter edition of Troubadour in February, and I’m confident that it will even better than our fall edition!
Morgan Bernard, Troubadour Editor
When you’re making your list this season, check out these gift suggestions from Lower School Librarian Catherine Word.
You may have heard your children talking about fun things they do in Makerspace during library enrichment. Kids ask me all the time, “Where did you get that?” or tell me, “I want this!” If you are struggling with Christmas ideas for your children, here is a list of some of the most popular things we have in Pollard Library!
Read! Read! Read!
Epic!’s digital library includes many of the best kids books, popular ebooks, and videos such as Fancy Nancy, Big Nate, Warriors, and National Geographic Kids.
Click here for more information
Mozaic puzzle posters.
Introducing StickTogether™—the collaborative, community-building activity with a beautiful reward. For groups of all ages, our sticker mosaic puzzle posters are a fun and easy way to get everyone working together.
Click here for more information
Limitless fun and learning with Osmo! ***Must have an ipad to use***
Click here for more
Make bracelets, necklaces, charms and more!!!
Click here for more information
Design your own video games using blocks.
***Must have an ipad*** Grades 3-5
You don’t need to understand fancy code and own super expensive computer programs to make video games anymore. All it takes is your Bloxels Gameboard, some blocks and a mobile device and, of course, your imagination to take the guesswork out of building your own video games! Click here for more information
Design, build, and create with blocks.
From the United States of America to Canada and Kuala Lumpur, KEVA planks are changing the lives of children and adults all over the world. Children discover the joy of creating original works of art or cleverly designed contraptions.
Click here for more information
Here is a collection of 32 simple projects for novice origami hobbyists — clearly illustrated and with easy-to-follow instructions that even beginning papercrafters can follow with success. Subjects range from an ultra-simple hat, cup, and pinwheel to the more challenging (but still unintimidating) penguin, pelican, and piano. Click here for more information
Catherine Word is the Lower School Librarian. She received her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from the University of Alabama and her Masters of Library and Information Science from Louisiana State University. Before coming to Episcopal, she taught first grade and eighth grade English, and was a Middle School Librarian. Catherine not only loves to help students fall in love with reading, but also creates an environment of creativity and exploration through participation in Maker Space. Her passion motivates her to stay current with library science skills to enhance student creativity and exploration through participation in programs such as Worlds of Making Makerspace Admiral Program. Catherine works side by side with technology staff and teachers in professional and student development through trainings and on-hand, in-class modeling.
“You make the music to share the music.”
Band Director Paul Taranto and the gold jazz band shared their musical talents at the annual jazz-on-the-deck concert this week. The 10th, 11th and 12th graders played a range of songs featuring several soloists and a strong ensemble sound.
Taranto says performing music is all about fun and that was definitely the case on the deck. As the older students were hitting the high notes and keeping the beat, the patio was filled with students from Lower School. The youngsters enjoyed dancing, snapping and clapping along. Where else but at a school that educates students from preK-3 to 12th grade could this happen?
This week’s performance is just one example of how the band is sharing their music with others. Since August they have also delighted audiences at St Luke’s, Trinity, Dufroq Elementary and Episcopal’s Lower School during morning meeting. In addition to touring, the students even made a group recording at Cedar Park recording studio.
Several Episcopal performers are finding additional ways to share their love of music. Kenny Schaffer, who hopes to someday become a composer, wrote an original composition over the summer. Laura Kurtz arranged a pop tune for a jazz ensemble. Lauren Smith was accepted as a member of the Louisiana Youth Orchestra on oboe for the second year running.
The band department will wrap up its performance season next week with their annual Christmas concert featuring Christmas favorites played by the sixth grade beginners, the seventh grade advanced students and the Upper School Wind Ensemble. We invite you to attend their concert as well as a seasonal performance by the choir.
SAVE THE DATE
Lessons and Carols - December 5th at 7 pm in the Chapel
Jazz Band Christmas concert - December 7th at 7 pm in the VPAC