There was a sea of red, white and blue for the Lower School Veterans Day parade. Students waved flags and cheered on Episcopal family members, friends and faculty who have served our country. The vehicles were decorated with banners, flags and signs to inspire the crowd. 2020 has been the year of parades, but this show of support and enthusiasm was particularly special. The parade concluded with Episcopal’s School Resource Officer and Air Force Veteran Corporal Kristopher Daniels making a pass through the circle with lights and sirens flaring.
A Prayer for Heroic Service
O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all of the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
-From The Book of Common Prayer, p. 839
Check out the links below to read recent alumni spotlights highlighting a few of our veterans.
At Episcopal, we often talk about the benefits of hands-on learning and how these experiences spark a students’ interest and encourage deep learning. A recent visit to the QUEST Center in Foster Hall showcased a wide array of these creative opportunities which are being offered by Episcopal faculty. While many of the lessons have been taught before, this new space is providing the opportunity to expand or even create new and exciting ways to learn. Students and teachers are enjoying every minute of it!
PreK Garden Fixer Upper
Recently, fifth graders got their hands dirty by weeding, painting and sprucing up the PreK-4 garden. QUEST Center coordinator Dr. Elizabeth Lewis and the fifth grade teachers worked with the older students to re-imagine the space. Students drew up proposals and the class worked together to implement their ideas. The result was a space to inspire any 4-year-old, complete with a bird sanctuary, construction zone, prehistoric place, milkweed monitoring, mudpie kitchen and herb and vegetable patches.
After several weeks of hard work and planning, the fifth graders were excited to reveal what they had accomplished, and the PreK students were eager to explore. “Do y’all like it?” asked the fifth graders. “We love it!” shouted the younger Knights jumping up and down. The brightly colored learning environment is just outside the PreK-4 classroom, and it is sure to be the site of countless discoveries this year.
Middle School Monster Mash
In English class, students often read text and write a response. In Martha Guarisco’s sixth grade class, there is so much more to explore. In celebration of fall festivities and an upcoming lesson on Greek mythology, Guarisco introduced a mythical monsters lesson. The lesson began with students using Google Expedition to view ancient creatures including a centaur, Pegasus, Medusa, a phoenix and nymphs. Using inspiration from what they saw, students then had to imagine their own creature and the traits that it might possess. To make the lesson a truly hands-on experience, Guarisco challenged students to mash their creatures with those imagined by their classmates.
This merging of mashed monsters took place in the QUEST Center. Using pool noodles, feathers, duct tape and more, students made creatures such as the “lioermis” created by Hollis, Lilianna and Zoey or the phoenix created by Patrick, Cohen, Pierce and Jace. While using the tools in the Middle School Design Studio was fun, the students were also retaining what they learned. Members of the “lioermis” group were able to describe an ancient phoenix and its rebirth from the ashes. The phoenix group designed a creature, similar to many mythical monsters, that could shape shift from human to bird.
As the sixth graders work on their creatures, they can’t help but see the activity taking place elsewhere in the facility. Guarisco recently overheard students expressing interest in the eighth graders’ Rube Goldberg project. “This is building excitement because it’s a shared space,” she says of the creative work taking place all around.
The Science of a Rube Goldberg Machine
There’s no better way to learn about simple machines than to build one. Episcopal eighth graders are creating Rube Goldberg Machines as part of a lesson on the engineering design method. Science teacher Shyamala Alapati challenged pairs of students to create a machine using four simple machines and 10 events. Students began the process by brainstorming and drawing out ideas on paper. After that, they had a class period to explore materials ranging from blocks and pipes to cardboard and popsicle sticks. In no time, students were using pulleys, levers, wedges and inclined planes to accomplish simple feats. Through the trial and error that is common in science, students are revising their plans as they go along. Once complete, the machines will be combined into one large Rube Goldberg Machine that will be revealed at the QUEST Center open house on Sunday, November 15th at 3:30 pm.
It is exciting when lessons read in a book come to life. Whether it’s the latest technology, recycled materials or simply the space to support a big imagination, the QUEST Center is allowing teachers to do what they do best – inspire the next generation of thinkers and leaders.
Open House - Sunday, November 15th at 3:30 pm
Episcopal families are invited to the QUEST Center Open House on Sunday, November 15 at 3:30 PM. Please click here to RSVP by November 11th and choose an available time slot to tour the new space. QUEST Center Coordinator Dr. Elizabeth Lewis and our faculty have planned an afternoon filled with interactive experiments and a showcase of the wonderful projects for students and families to enjoy.
Did you know that you can learn about the human body in music class? At Episcopal, you can. Second graders recently teamed up with music teacher Tricia Delony to create the sounds of the digestive system. The result is what Delony describes as “good, clean, gross sounding fun.”
Before the students ever recorded a note, they learned more about Foley artists who use everyday objects and things they find to make sounds. Zippers, pinwheels, tape, bags, maracas and even a rubber duck were used as “instruments” to create audio for the mouth, stomach and intestines. As students explored the sounds generated by the objects, there were discussions on non-music related topics. Similar to a science teacher, Delony reminded students of the rule of inertia and how “instruments can’t make sounds by themselves.”
In no time, the music room was filled with the sounds of students squeezing discarded cough drop bags and knocking on wooden blocks. Delony displayed a photo overhead of an internal view of the intestines to provide inspiration, and the students created what Delony called the “pokey sounds of the intestines.” After the initial squeezing, shaking and exploring, students recorded their favorite sound for a compilation track. The recordings, when combined with the recordings of the other second grade classes, created the soundtrack of the human digestive system according to Episcopal second graders.
Episcopal Lower School students participate in music class once a week. The young students are immersed in the Kodaly and Orff method, using solfege and a wide selection of instruments and recorders. As students progress through Middle and Upper School, they build upon what they learned in Lower School and participate in band, choir and musical theater. Delony provides students the foundations of music to prepare them for the learning ahead. Choir director Carrie Poynot appreciates that the curriculum grows with the students as they advance. “It is also wonderful to get to know the students year after year,” she says. “I get the opportunity to watch them grow in their musical independence. I am lucky to take part in shaping their experience as they participate in our choral and musical theater productions.”
The National Association for Music Education points out numerous benefits for students who receive music instruction. On the association’s website, the organization lists positive behavior influences as well as improvements in a child’s spatial intelligence, ability for self-knowledge and expression, and an overall boost in processing language and reasoning abilities. NAfME representatives also share that “students with coursework/experience in music performance and music appreciation scored higher on the SAT.”
For now, the second graders simply enjoyed discovering imaginative ways to make new sounds inspired by a lesson in human anatomy. As they shrieked “ewww” and “gross,” it was clear that the lesson is sure to be a chart topper!
Second graders will show off everything they’ve learned about the digestive system with an interactive walk-through exhibit next week in the QUEST Center in Foster Hall.
Enjoy a preview of the digestive system soundtrack below.
Episcopal fourth grader Annie Engholm is an inspiration for us all. Like many this spring, Annie was bored staying at home with her family. However, unlike many of us, she didn’t spend that extra time snacking or binge watching her favorite TV show. Instead, Annie set to work fighting the virus the best way she knew how.
Annie loves making jewelry. As she created new pieces this spring, she also thought about how much she missed seeing her friends. That’s when inspiration struck. Annie made up her mind to sell her creations and donate the proceeds to a local hospital. With help from her dad, she established a non-profit Etsy shop titled Annie’s Ever After Shop. A quick study, Annie learned how to take photos of her creations, post the images, write the captions and package everything for shipping. In no time at all, her brightly colored, Louisiana-inspired Click Clack Clams, hair clips, rings and bracelets began shipping to her patrons. This young Knight raised $500, and she donated all of it to the Baton Rouge General Foundation to help them help others!
A visit with Annie and her friends Kamrin and Koyomi on the Episcopal deck proves that Annie is full of life and enthusiasm. As the students munch on their lunches, they are excited to learn more about Annie’s quarantine adventures, including the time she was featured on TV because of her generosity. Kamrin grabs a banana and pretends it’s a microphone as he asks Annie questions about the items she sold. Annie is excited to share with her friends that her first item was purchased by a grown-up. “The first day I got so many orders,” she says proudly. In the type of conversation that happens often with young classmates, the students share stories of their own television appearances and Annie talks about the time she and her dad saved a stranded bird that was entangled in a streamer. For these best friends, it seems to be a normal occurrence for someone their age to raise hundreds of dollars to help fight a pandemic.
“This is all Annie,” says Annie’s mom Ginny, with a laugh. “She is a force. If she wants to do something, she does it.” Annie’s Ever After Shop is not Annie’s first effort to make a difference in the world. Ginny says prior to this, Annie and her friends organized an art sale to generate funds to support a shelter for teens. While Annie says it’s hard to decide who to help, she is already making plans to do more. She hopes to soon begin creating a new round of shop items, including a headband design. Once she’s ready, she’ll re-open Annie’s Ever After in an effort to continue raising money in support of health care workers. With optimism, she says that once the quarantine is over, she will begin donating her proceeds to efforts that help children without homes.
Annie’s incredible compassion for others resonates with everyone who hears her story. The physicians and staff at Baton Rouge General were impressed with her efforts and nominated her for a National Philanthropy Day award given by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Baton Rouge Chapter. Ginny says Annie is actually the youngest recipient of the Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy honor. Annie will be recognized along with other Baton Rouge philanthropists at a special luncheon at the City Club of Baton Rouge next week.
In the meantime, as she shares lunch with her friends under the large oak tree at Episcopal, Annie talks about how to get rid of bees and how to make a keychain. Someday she hopes to be “some kind of scientist,” and she really enjoys creating art. She’s also in the process of designing a board game to play with her cousin. Annie is full of energy and ideas and not afraid to try them. Her mom describes her as “super kind, super creative and fearless.” These traits will serve her well as she grows up and takes on the world. This future leader will certainly go far, and we are proud that she is a Knight.
Check out Annie's Etsy Shop promotional video here.
Share a message with Annie in the comments section below and let her know the Knights are proud of her!
Make it a great day!
Anyone who has participated in a Lower School Morning Meeting has certainly heard this greeting shared between students. Prior to the pandemic, Morning Meeting was a daily gathering in the Greer Center featuring student performances, scripture readings and voices raised in song. When the world of education changed last school year, religion teachers Jenny Koenig and Laura Portwood knew they had to preserve this treasured tradition. “It was the number one tradition mentioned by every faculty member,” says Koenig. “This is how we start our day here,” says Portwood. With classes being offered online, the two teachers set to work offering Morning Meeting online as well. The project required a tremendous effort and a lot of trouble shooting.
Now, with students on campus, Morning Meeting is streamed live from Koenig’s classroom each day. Koenig, Portwood and librarian Catherine Word operate webcams, computers and lights in the space. A different class joins them in person for each production and there are special guest attendees. Recently, students welcomed new Head of School Dr. Carrie Steakley, who was more than happy to spend time with the young Knights.
Morning Meeting is a component of the Responsive Classroom method that has been used in Lower School for more than a decade. The classroom management philosophy empowers students by helping them fully understand the expectations and behaviors required of them. According to the Responsive Classroom website, “Morning Meeting is an engaging way to start each day, build a strong sense of community, and set children up for success socially and academically.” At Episcopal, Morning Meeting is also a setting in which students gain a solid spiritual foundation with students reciting the Episcopal Honor Code, praying and singing together.
“I saw you on TV.” “How did you fit in the TV?” The new Morning Meeting format has certainly made an impression on the littlest Knights. Koenig and Portwood say when they interact with PreK-4 students they are often asked about the production. Portwood smiles when recalling the students asking how she got so tiny. She says these impromptu discussions often lead to talk of cameras and the workings of film creation. Koenig says when she sees students on the playground or on campus, they are excited to greet her and feel like they know her now.
Beginning each day together creates a sense of community among students. It also provides a dependable way to move into a new day of learning. “It provides a calm routine that we can count on,” says Koenig. “It’s comforting to them.” In addition, Morning Meeting is an opportunity for students to develop presentation and leadership skills. Each day, a different group of fifth graders is selected to lead the gathering. “It’s a big deal to get up in front of everybody,” says Portwood. The teachers do not take this lightly, and it’s just one more reason they are committed to continuing Morning Meeting.
Koenig and Portwood laugh about the adventures they’ve had while working on the virtual version of Morning Meeting. There have been occasions where the technology froze and instances where Portwood had to ad-lib her message. While transitioning to an online format has not been without challenges, it has certainly been worth the effort. “It helps us to always remember our sense of belonging,” says Koenig. That sense of belonging is felt whether students are sitting side by side or tuning in from their classroom.
Morning Meeting continues thanks to the resilience and determination of teachers like Portwood, Koenig and Word. In a year like 2020, it is good to know that meaningful traditions live on. Thank you to everyone who contributes to this effort.
Do you love Morning Meeting? Tell us why in the comments section below.
Episcopal students are learning, growing and enjoying their time on campus. As everyone acclimates to the 2020 routine, a new sense of joy and tradition is blooming. Enjoy these moments from around campus.
Going on a Fossil Hunt
Sixth graders recently used the latest technology to delve deeper into the secrets of the past. Students used Google Expeditions AR to look at fossils that were used as evidence to support the theory of Continental Drift.
Wellness Wednesday Finals
“Let’s have some fun!” Division Head Mark Engstrom welcomed Middle School students to the VPAC for the Wellness Wednesday Fall Fest Finals this week. The event was the culmination of several Wednesdays of mental, physical and logic challenges conducted recently during advisory. For the finals, students had to find the differences between images, jump rope for 30 seconds or solve a riddle. The winners received candy to celebrate their success. The best part was being together for a moment of fun!
In addition, students had an opportunity to dress in their favorite fall outfits and enjoy treats from City Gelato to celebrate the upcoming fall break.
Outdoor Adventures in First Grade
Nothing says joy quite like flying a kite on a beautiful October day! First graders enjoyed time outdoors recently on the Coach Dupe trail.
Third graders celebrated their love of words with the annual Vocabulary Parade. This Lower School tradition is inspired by a study of author Debra Frasier’s book, “Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster.” Episcopal students represented a range of words with colorful, creative costumes as they paraded through the VPAC.
The Vocabulary Parade tradition is a favorite among Lower School students. For 10 years now, teachers have organized this fun occasion to encourage students to grow in their vocabulary and develop a love of reading. The excitement of the day will certainly go a long way toward accomplishing these goals!
Each year, Episcopal fifth graders celebrate their leadership role in Lower School with the fifth grade sweatshirt ceremony. The shirts are a meaningful reminder for the students as they mentor their younger classmates and prepare for the next step in their own educational journey.
The sweatshirt tradition is a moment to remember as it is one of the first occasions where individual students are referred to as a class. In this case, the Class of 2028. Eight years from now, the sweatshirts will be replaced by a cap and gown as the students make their way into the world. Until that day, Episcopal faculty and staff will do their best to prepare the students for that milestone.
Congratulations, Class of 2028!
Every day is the best day ever from their point of view.
Episcopal kindergarten teacher Sara Henderson is quick to say that she and her fellow kindergarten teachers, Maria Campbell and Erin Dufour, have the best job at Episcopal. “We take children where they are and help them grow where they are planted,” says Henderson. “We get to be the lucky ones to foster a love for learning.”
Recently, the kindergarten team has been encouraging that love and an exploration of the world through the annual five senses project-based learning unit. Henderson says as students learn about their senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing, they are encouraged to think like a little scientist. The five and six-year-olds make observations and meet milestones such as learning to sort objects based on their properties and how to represent information in a variety of forms using graphs, charts and tables.
The five senses project had to be revised this year due to current pandemic restrictions. “We usually start this project off with a visit from the mobile zoo and the five senses package, we are really just trying to make things we have done in the past more hands on, more fun and bring those things into the curriculum across subject areas,” says Henderson. She says this year students are exploring using items that can be brought into the classroom, such as kinetic sand, water beads, writing sight words in coarse salt, oobleck and shaving cream. “We were able to tie our five senses into our math unit of texture,” says Henderson. “We tied in with art and the color wheel. Just trying to make as many connections as we can within our new perimeters.
While teachers are finding creative ways to make the lesson enjoyable, it is also obvious that the simple act of being together is bringing tremendous joy as well. “We are so excited to be with our littles,” says Henderson. “We are thankful to be here each day. It looks different, sounds different, but feels the same. I love seeing the wonder in their eyes when we talk about being scientists, authors, illustrators, mathematicians and learners. It is a blessing to be teaching all the time, even in this new tricky time we are in.”
Kindergarten is an important time in a student’s educational journey as they transition into “big kid” learning. It’s also a time when learning is still filled with the wonder of childhood. It’s great to see that school is so much fun, thanks to a community of dedicated teachers who make every lesson an adventure in learning.
The annual Healthy Selves project-based learning unit in first grade is now underway! Students are learning to make healthy food choices, the importance of exercise and how to care for their bodies.
This week, these healthy explorers were the first students to explore the new fully stocked Chemistry Kitchen in the Quest Center. Students, teachers and Chef Pat were excited to have the opportunity to make healthy smoothies in the new space within Foster Hall. Students wore brightly colored aprons and worked at tables just the right height for them. There was tremendous excitement as they chopped berries and bananas, and once the blender started whirring, laughing and cheering filled the room.
While the delicious lesson was designed to encourage students to make healthy eating choices, there were other lessons to be learned. Quest Center Coordinator Dr. Elizabeth Lewis told students about the composting process as she collected the banana peels and strawberry stems in a white bucket. Later, teacher Mary Kathryn Vey showed students the composting bins that are right outside of their own first grade classroom. She also pointed out the worm, vegetable and butterfly gardens that fill the space. Students were excited to know that they have a great view of everything going on in these natural spaces.
Strawberries, bananas, an inspiring new venue and a team of educators finding creative ways in which to feed young imaginations – that’s a great recipe for learning!