Dear Episcopal School of Baton Rouge Community,
Traumatic and tragic events which have transpired over the past days are an all-too-familiar reminder that racism and hatred against black people continue to exist in our society today. We grieve over the death of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others whose lives have been needlessly cut short. As Father Skully wrote in his message to our on-campus community this week, racism and hatred have no place in our school or our community. Through its mission statement, Episcopal is charged with nurturing and developing the whole child – spiritually, intellectually, morally, physically and artistically – through challenging academic and co-curricular programs which prepare our graduates for college and purposeful lives. Racism and hatred cannot be part of that experience. We deeply value people of color as a part of the Episcopal community while recognizing that our desire for human dignity has not always reached the highest mark.
Recent comments from alumni make clear that this must remain an absolute priority. While Episcopal, regrettably, did not do better for these alums in their years at Episcopal, we are committed to ensuring that current and future black students do not experience the same issues.
Actions speak louder than words. While Episcopal has made significant strides in recent years in terms of diversity and inclusion, we acknowledge that there still is much work to do. As part of its commitment to that work, Episcopal will be forming a task force dedicated to addressing racism, diversity, equity and inclusion.
With God’s Help,
Christopher D. Kiesel - Board Chair
Dr. Carrie Steakley - Incoming Head of School
Tom Forti - Head of Upper School
Mark Engstrom - Head of Middle School
Beth Gardner - Incoming Head of Lower School
“You give them something to eat.” This is one of my favorite lines in all of scripture. It is from Luke 9, the Feeding of the Five Thousand. The disciples turn to Jesus and tell him to “Send the crowd away.” The people need to eat. We cannot feed everyone. The problem is too big for us. And he says to them, “You give them something to eat.” Jesus gives the disciples instructions, gathers what they have, blesses it, and sends them out to feed the people. And it works. There is more than enough for everyone-there is an abundance. If we ask for God’s help, we can do wonderful things, but God does not do the work for us.
We are at our core, an Episcopal school, a Christian school. And it is in our baptism that we promise to be just that. But we acknowledge-even as we make those promises-our limitations and our imminent failure, because we do not respond to the questions with “yes” or “I will.” We respond with, “I will, with God’s help.” We realize as we are promising to give our lives to God, to follow the way, that we cannot do it alone. We need help. We need God’s help.
The last two questions in The Baptismal Covenant are, “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?” and “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”
And our promise is, “I will, with God’s help.” At Episcopal, that cannot and will not be an empty promise.
Make no mistake, Episcopal recognizes the pain and grief recent events have caused for many members of the Episcopal community. And we must remember that our foundation, our commitment as an institution lies in the words of that Baptismal Covenant. We must acknowledge and honor those promises, and as a school we must also teach them to the students who are entrusted to our care.
I am proud to work at a school where inclusion, diversity, and respect are something we strive for and work on daily. But it is not easy work. I suppose it would be easy if we all looked the same, thought the same, and had the same story, but we do not. And that is what makes us great. Learning about the perspectives of our fellow human beings, and especially those that differ from us the most, are the things that make an Episcopal experience uniquely enriching.
Racism, hatred, and violence have no place in our school, our community, or our world. On that we can all agree. But to make that just and peaceful world a reality, we must work at it. Jesus tells us the work is ours to do. We must listen to one another. We must listen to the voices of those who speak out and speak up with truth that may be hard to hear. We must seek and serve Christ in all people, love all of our neighbors, strive for justice and peace, and respect the dignity of every human being. We must work together, and we must do it all, with God’s help.
A Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Diversity of Races and Cultures
O God, who created all peoples in your image, we thank you for the wonderful diversity of races and cultures in this world. Enrich our lives by ever widening circles of fellowship, and show us your presence in those who differ most from us, until our knowledge of your love is made perfect in our love for all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The 2019-2020 school year has been unlike any other. We successfully transitioned to Distance Learning and we rallied around members of the Class of 2020. Now, we are preparing to say goodbye to Head of School Hugh McIntosh on June 30th.
With McIntosh at the helm for the past decade, Episcopal students have thrived. The continued commitment to academic excellence is evident in a consistently high number of National Merit Finalists reflecting the highest percentage of seniors earning such recognition in the region. Upper School students are also enjoying opportunities for university research through the ESTAAR program and Middle School students are earning Duke TIP honors.
Curricular and teaching method changes instituted allow teachers to do more personalization of a student’s pathway through Episcopal, tailoring the program to a student’s strengths, interests and capabilities. In the Upper School, McIntosh was instrumental in launching the Distinctions Program which allows students to pursue specific interests in a range of academic areas, from French to Physics, and, in so doing, to identify their interests in the college admissions process. From the early years, McIntosh ensured that college counseling was expanded to three counselors, that LSU was placed in a “warm embrace” by Episcopal helping many families take advantage of TOPS and convenient location of the college experience for family life, and that a new emphasis was placed on finding new sources of college scholarships for graduates. Under McIntosh’s leadership the LAUNCH program has become an Episcopal tradition which honors student academic research and achievement in the arts. Closer coordination of STEM-related courses have produced a range of math and science closely coordinated learning experiences and more co-curricular outlets for STEM-oriented students. Closer coordination of students’ progress beginning in Lower School and running through Middle School have allowed acceleration and deepening of interests for many students with interests and talent in a particular subject area.
To support this academic rigor, McIntosh has established or expanded partnerships with a range of institutions such as the Ogden Honors College and Math Department at LSU, Burkenroad Reports at Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business, the Duke School in Durham, North Carolina, NuVu Schools, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Duke TIP, John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, Klingenstein Center at Teachers College Columbia University, Power Courses, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mastery Prep right here in Baton Rouge. In his Academic Points installments, McIntosh described such partnerships as allowing the school to “punch above our weight” or be “more than just Episcopal” for students and families. Episcopal faculty and staff have certainly done both.
McIntosh has also ensured that Episcopal remains committed to a whole child philosophy, with more opportunities for multiple-intelligences to be recognized. Project-based and experiential learning units in all divisions have made learning more interactive and fluid. Encouraging this type of instruction has allowed teachers more freedom. For example, lessons about geography of the world in Lower School have been supplemented by student teams acting as travel agents presenting to parents and faculty the advantages of vacationing in countries studied in the classroom. Students in all divisions are encouraged to pursue their interests and reach beyond themselves whether it’s in the areas of academics, arts, athletics or service.
As we bid farewell to McIntosh, there are also visible, lasting testaments to his time at Episcopal. As a result of the Spirit Mind Body Capital Campaign, students are worshipping in a renovated Lewis Family Memorial Chapel of the Good Shepherd and learning cutting edge science, math and technology within the Academic Commons. The new athletic field house is a monument to student health and well-being and will serve students in a variety of exciting ways. Foster Hall is under renovation and will open in August 2020 as the QUEST Center in Foster Hall, which will be an innovative and hands-on Lower and Middle School math, science and technology space. In addition, McIntosh’s tenure has included the renovation of the Webster Refectory, the creation of the Coach Dupe Trail and the improvement of athletic facilities such as the baseball field and scoreboard.
McIntosh has led the school through challenging times. He has ensured that Episcopal is financially prudent even in the face of events such as the flood of 2016 and the global pandemic. He has met the demands of an evolving world by preparing the school with new technology and school security measures. He has led a team that has adapted and found ways to serve students in line with Episcopal values.
Episcopal School of Baton Rouge is prepared for the next decade thanks to the leadership provided by McIntosh. At the April board meeting, the trustees shared with McIntosh the Academic Excellence Futures Fund Endowment that was recently created in his honor. When McInosh first arrived 10 years ago, he saw a need to boost academic excellence and build the school’s endowment. During his tenure as Head of School, academic performance and available resources for all students have grown tremendously. The Academic Excellence Futures Fund Endowment in Honor of Hugh McIntosh was created to help achieve both visions for the next generation of Episcopal students.The Fund will allow the next Head of School, Dr. Carrie Steakley, to direct additional resources to academic areas such as new programming, enhance existing programs, teacher development or special projects all resulting in a stronger Episcopal experience.
The Episcopal community gathered recently to thank McIntosh for his leadership and to wish him a fond farewell. The social distancing car parade was a festive occasion celebrating 10 years of success. We invite you to share a message of congratulations in the comments section below.
Episcopal sixth graders blasted into summer with a year-end project that was out of this world. Students studied the phases and surface characteristics of the moon. After learning more about our cosmic neighbor, they then learned what it takes to get there.
Science teacher Stacy Hill tapped into the latest technology to bring the Apollo missions to the students’ own living rooms. “Students used the Smithsonian Moonshot app to collect information about missions and to view the Saturn V in Augmented Reality,” says Hill. “They also used Augmented Reality to try to land a Lunar Lander on the moon to help them understand the need for the various parts of the lander.” Hill says students used items available right at home to build their creations. The resulting builds were an exciting addition to Distance Learning.
Episcopal Middle School students are not strangers to exciting, hands-on science experiences. Check out previous blog posts highlighting the engaging lessons provided by Middle School faculty. To learn more about the Episcopal Middle School experience, visit the division’s webpage here.
With a 50+ year history, many have long-standing connections to Episcopal School of Baton Rouge. However, not many can trace that connection back to their own living room where the conversations between the founders began. Lower School English teacher Margaret Boudreaux’s father, Mr. G. Allen Penniman Jr., was one of the original supporters of establishing a new, independent school for the Baton Rouge community. Now all these years later, Margaret is set to retire from the place she has called home for so long.
Margaret, who graduated in 1976, began attending Episcopal the first year it was established. Before she ever put on an Episcopal uniform or stepped foot on campus, Margaret was a part of the community. Her father modeled for her what it meant to live with passion and vision as she watched Mr. Penniman and his partners make plans for the school. She says even when her father traveled, Episcopal was on his mind. “He would seek out the private schools and tour them,” she says. “He was always thinking about School and how to make it better. This passion of his was an enormous part of my upbringing, and it influenced me throughout my life,” says Margaret.
Margaret’s own passion for Episcopal grew once she became a student. She remembers her first impression of the Woodland Ridge school. “The campus was so beautiful,” she says. She also remembers the close-knit, family feeling that Episcopal offered and the positive influence of her teachers. “I revered my teachers who loved me but made me toe the line,” she says.
After Episcopal, Margaret studied liberal arts at Rhodes College. She married Emmett, and they had two children. When it was time for Elliott and Anne to attend school, there was no question as to where they would go. Elliott graduated from Episcopal in 2010 and Anne in 2014. Seeing her children attend the school that had played such an important role in her own life provided Margaret another connection to the Episcopal community, this time as a parent and volunteer. Margaret became a certified teacher and joined the faculty in 2006.
In a 2017 article highlighting Episcopal alumni, Margaret spoke of the importance of her work as an educator. “I believe we teach the future leaders of our community,” said Margaret. “I wake up every day happy to teach bright 10 and 11 year olds.” Margaret does this with dedication and passion. “I feel each child has a special lock and I needed to find the right key to open them to embrace learning,” she says.
As Margaret looks toward her next chapter, she will treasure her Episcopal experience. “I’ve had the greatest opportunity to work with an outstanding faculty and I’ve loved seeing my school grow to be a flagship of innovative education while always maintaining the integrity of the individual,” says Margaret. “I love that faith is embedded in our lives.”
Margaret’s own story and the story of Episcopal are forever entwined. She watched her father follow through with his vision for the school, and she and her children benefited from his dedication to a dream. She has even had the unique opportunity to return and ensure that the next generation receives that same educational experience.
Margaret’s legacy as an Episcopal teacher and volunteer will live on. Thank you for your service and passion, Margaret. We will miss you!
The Episcopal Writing Center is a special place where Fellows form lifelong bonds. In keeping with tradition, this year’s underclassmen wrote Senior Tributes highlighting the graduating fellows and the impact they’ve had on the program. Congratulations, senior fellows!
While the only trace of her existence within the Writing Center during my brief time as a fellow was a husky-adorned mug that I often borrowed to drink my daily hot chocolate, her spirit and work tutoring students for the years preceding my entrance in the Center lives on. Joining the Writing Center as a sophomore, Maia felt that her work as a fellow would help her development as a writer as well as benefit others. Upon her inaugural meeting with a wide-eyed freshman (a hazing ritual for all new Fellows), Maia realized something: if she could reflect on every meeting for a few minutes, she could improve her skills as a tutor with every new The Book Thief research paper brought under her eyes. As her younger brother, I always revelled in her ability to take my “perfect” papers and make suggestions that probably earned me more points than I deserved. As a Writing Fellow, I try to model my words of advice and encouragement after the same ones she gave me—although I can never seem to exactly replicate her “Maia-ness” perfectly. When I applied and was eventually accepted as a Fellow, Maia gave me some of the best advice that I never knew I needed: “Respect your clients and always find something kind to say about their work— while nit-picking a kid’s work will help their rubric, your purpose is to make them love writing, not memorize grammar rules. Leave that to their teachers.”
- By Skyler Adams
Louisiana State University Ogden Honors College
Halle always wanted to help out in the Episcopal community. Due to her impeccable English skills and caring demeanor, she loved assisting others with their writing in classes. She loved to hear students talk about books they read, which led to her own love of reading. All of this prompted her to apply for the Writing Fellows program. She always felt happy after a writing session knowing she had helped someone else become a better writer. She made students feel welcome in the Writing Center and gave them a sense of comfort during sessions. Encouraging conversation between her and the student created a more friendly and fun environment. She especially enjoyed working with students’ literary analysis and formally structured essays.
The Writing Center has given her more responsibility that she has applied to other aspects of her life, such as being captain of the volleyball team. She has learned to sacrifice her time in order to help others achieve their goals as writers. She has fond memories of coming into the Writing Center and being able to get her work done in a comfortable and peaceful environment, especially during her junior year. Halle encourages people to be willing to help others, especially those who are considering becoming a Writing Fellow. Halle, we appreciate everything you have brought to the Writing Center: love and diligence to all of your sessions.
- By Molly Frances King
Major: Public Policy
With a warm personality and a friendly face from which to get help, Macie Sentino entered the Writing Center with a positive attitude and willingness to help students address problems efficiently and effectively. Of the types of writing she’s tutored, the freshman personal narrative is her favorite because working with narratives is a way to “[hear] different people’s stories and to help them tell those stories.” Macie loved getting to know the students she was helping and reminisce on past assignments that she had completed in her high school career. Since becoming a Writing Fellow, Macie feels that she has grown as a writer through her experiences with tutoring. She explains how “being able to look at so many different pieces of student writing that aren’t [my] own allows [me] to take a step back and examine what makes up a good piece of writing.” Macie’s favorite times in the Writing Center were spent bonding with her peers and enjoying the weather outside while completing her work. Macie always demonstrates kindness and empathy to her peers. Her advice to new tutors is, “Get to know your fellow writing fellows, especially those scheduled in your same block. You never know when you might need someone to take an appointment for you last minute, just get a little help during an appointment, or just someone to talk to when you finish your homework. Writing fellow friends rock!” The Writing Center will miss her down-to-earth nature and bright ideas. Macie, we know you are moving on to big and amazing things!
- By Sara Morgan
Lower School ended the school year with all of the fun and fanfare you would expect. From a virtual Field Day to visits with national authors, students and faculty continued joyful learning. See you next year!
Field Day Family Fun
Episcopal Lower School families were spotted enjoying water balloon fights, sack races and more as part of the recent Lower School Virtual Field Day. Due to Distance Learning requirements, this annual tradition involved families and took place right at home. It was a joyful way to celebrate the end of the school year.
Author Chats and Vocabulary Parades
What’s better than enjoying a good book? Getting a message directly from the author who wrote the story! Episcopal third graders recently had the opportunity to see a special message created just for them from two national authors. This year’s Lower School community read book was “Bob” by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead. Before the transition to Distance Learning, students received their books and began reading about the adventures of Bob and Livy. To celebrate the completion of this year’s read, Lower School faculty invited Wendy Mass to record a special video message just for Episcopal students. Mass highlighted the connection the students have to her and others who have read “Bob” as well as the journey she and Stead went on when writing the book.
Always up for a parade, the third grade team also organized a virtual vocabulary parade inspired by the book “Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster” by Debra Frasier. Earlier in the school year, students shared the traditional vocabulary parade in the Greer Center which was filled with proud families and friends. At the end of the year, the students put together a virtual rendition to highlight how even in a time of Distance Learning the parade must go on! Students were given two days to come up with a way to represent a word in Distance Learning to celebrate the end of the school year. Author Debra Frasier, who Episcopal faculty have cultivated a relationship with over the years, also recorded a special message for third graders. In the message, Frasier shares that she has used the recent months to develop new drawing skills. She also reminded students that while they may be separated physically, they can always carry thoughts of their classmates in their hearts.
Project-Based Learning Continues
Ask an Episcopal kindergartener about the Statue of Liberty or the Liberty Bell and they are sure to tell you all about these notable American symbols. Students finished the school year with the annual American symbols project-based unit. The future first graders finished mini projects in which they completed math problems and writing prompts. They also had the opportunity to create their own version of the well-known icons.
What a Way to End the Year!
Each Lower School grade participated in a parade to wrap up the school year. Students and parents stayed in their cars and wished teachers well as families dropped off school items and collected goodies. Lower School teachers also created a special video to help students celebrate the end of a great year. Make it a great summer!
“So much was taken from us but crisis seems to bring out the best in people.” Sara Be, 2019/2020 Student Body President
Much has been said about the challenges faced by the Class of 2020. While they have certainly experienced high school through a unique set of circumstances, now it is time to celebrate all that this class has accomplished in spite of that adversity.
Number of different colleges to which the Class of 2020 were accepted: 118
Total number of college acceptances: 310
Scholarship dollars earned: $10,075,588 over the next four years
TOPS dollars awarded over the next four years: $1.45 million
Students matriculating at a school outside of a Louisiana state school receiving full tuition scholarship/financial aid: 7
It’s difficult to tell the story of the Class of 2020 without reflecting upon the flood of 2016 or the current global pandemic. These events were challenging, especially for students hoping for a typical teenage high school experience. However, between freshman and senior year, these students made the most of their time on campus and they will leave the school more resilient, stronger and better prepared to live lives of meaning and purpose. As student leaders, including Be, Valedictorian Celia Kiesel, Salutatorian Adam Reid and senior class president Christine Myer, shared speeches at the recent Knights Drive-In, it also became apparent that this class will leave high school more grateful, compassionate and kind.
“We’re not missing out because we have it right here,” Myer reminded her classmates as she stood on a small stage under a banner congratulating the class. Both Myer and Be expressed gratitude for the meaningful moments and relationships that they said will truly define their high school experiences. With that appreciation comes a sense of making a difference in the world as they begin their next chapter.
“We are making history,” said Be. “We have this historic opportunity to be an example.”
Student Success in Latin
The National Mythology Exam provides an outlet for those students who enjoy the history and mythology tied to the Latin language. For the 2020 National Mythological Exam, students in grades 8-12 tackled questions on Perseus and mythological monsters from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the Olympian gods, and a deep dive into Book III of Vergi’s Aeneid. The National Latin exam is administered to over 10,000 students worldwide. Congratulations to the following Episcopal students!
Bronze medal winners include:
Sarah Griffith (2022)
Justin Dynes (2022)
Arya Patel (2022)
Robert Xing (2021)
Congratulations to the following students who earned medals on the 2020 National Latin Vocabulary Exam (NLVE). The NLVE is designed to test a student's knowledge of Latin vocabulary and is based on Latin vocabulary relevant to a particular student's level of Latin.
Abhay Baisreddy (2021)
Arya Patel (2022)
Justin Dynes (2022)
Jack Williams (2022)
Madi Bell (2021)
Episcopal Students Among Winners of CAMWS Latin Translation Contest
Each year, the Classical Association of the Middle West and South (CAMWS) runs a national Latin Translation Contest for high school students. Students must translate a yet-unseen prose or poetry passage.
Book prizes are awarded for students placing in the top 5% of translation entries in this national contest. Out of 347 entries received this year, Abhay Basireddy (2022) received a book award.
Sarah Griffith (2021) received a letter of commendation in this competition. Her meritorious entry was in the top 15% of examinations received at the Intermediate Level.
In addition, six students were officially designated as National Junior Classical League (NJCL) Latin Honor Society members.
New inductees to the National Junior Classical League Honor Society are:
Justin Dynes (2022)
Sarah Griffith (2022)
Ella Harper (2022)
Arya Patel (2022)
Julian Romano (2022)
Jack Williams (2022)
This year’s Latin classes have been extremely successful competing on the national stage on such assessments as the National Classical Etymology Exam (10 awards), National Latin Exam (12 awards), National Latin Vocabulary Exam (5 awards), National Mythology Exam (4 awards), and the CAMWS Translation Contest (2 awards).
French Exam Recognition
Congratulations to the following students for their success on Le Grand Concours, the French National Exam:
Marigny Albert (2023), Level 1
Sarah Laiche (2023), Level 2
Emma Collier (2022), Level 3
Charlie Roth (2021), Level 4
Thomas Audet (2021), Level 3
Tanvi Dhaka (2023), Level 3
Ahebwa Muhumuza, (2024), Level 3
Lower School Citizenship Awards
Each year Lower School celebrates two fourth and two fifth students who model what it means to be a good citizen with the Citizenship Awards. These students display a willingness to become involved for the betterment of others and the community, honesty, integrity, responsibility, concern for the welfare of others and for the community in which they work and play and scholarship. Congratulations to this year’s winners!
Student Artists’ Work on Display
Grab a copy of the latest 225 Magazine or log on to the Baton Rouge Art Gallery’s website to catch a glimpse of Episcopal junior Katie Knight’s artwork titled “Shadows.” Earlier this year, Katie’s art was also a part of the LSU Statewide Juried High School exhibition.
The recognition keeps coming in for members of the Knights’ soccer teams. Congratulations to the following athletes!
Girls All-Metro Team
Outstanding Player - Faith Johnston MVP
Boys All District
Tochi Mbagwu – Episcopal – Senior
Jett Turnley Episcopal – Senior
Josh Wilson Episopal - Junior
Garrett Reimann – Episcopal – Sophomore
Chidi Mbagwu – Episcopal – Sophomore
Ethan Webb – Episcopal – Junior
Cade Capron – Episcopal – Junior
Joe Acierno – Episcopal – Senior
Akshay Basireddy – Episcopal - Junior
Tanner Morales – Episcopal – Senior
District Team Awards
Overall MVP: Tochi Mbagwu (Episcopal)
Defensive MVP: Jett Turnley (Episcopal)
Coach: Kiran Booluck (Episcopal)
Keeper: Josh Wilson (Episcopal)
All Metro Team
Congratulations to basketball players Izzy Besselman and Ricky Volland for earning spots on the All Metro Boys and Girls Basketball teams!
College Bound Athletes
Congratulations to the following athletes who will continue competing at the collegiate level!
DJ Morgan – Xavier N.O. Basketball
Peyton Sybrandt – Auburn Baseball
Griff Strain - Highpoint Baseball
Sydney Summerville – Belhaven College Softball
Anders Melton – University of the South Soccer
Tanner Bodron – Millsaps College Soccer
Kendrick Washington – Millsaps College Football
Christian Clayson – UL Monroe Baseball
Joseph Patterson - University of Tennessee Martin Track
John Ropollo – UL Monroe Baseball
Savannah York – Texas A&M Powerlifting
Jackson Morris – LSU Powerlifting
Kolin Bilbrew - Southern University Football
Joseph Patterson - University of Tennessee Martin Track
Distinguished Teacher Honoree
Congratulations to Episcopal’s Kristen Kirschner! Kristen is one of five high school teachers in the country to be named a 2020 Northwestern University Distinguished Secondary School Teacher. She was nominated by Gabrielle Bienasz ’16 who says “Kirschner helped shape her as a writer.” Each year the distinguished educators are chosen through a committee process that includes student essays and portfolios submitted by nominated teachers.
Please join us in congratulating members of the Class of 2020 as they announce their college enrollment decisions.