2020 brought many challenging events our way: multiple hurricanes, social and political unrest, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which is continuing into 2021. In the midst of stressful and uncertain times, how do we care for our family’s well-being? How do we know if our children and teens are struggling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges? It is common for adolescents to become more peer centered and, therefore, less open with adults. While some level of stress or sadness can be normal, particularly in these trying times, anxiety and depression are more severe and indicate a larger struggle. Here are some indicators to watch for:
Families play a significant role in the mental well-being of their children. Consider these ways to be proactive and minimize the risk of further anxiety during the pandemic.
Be proactive- talk about mental health. Preteens and teens are curious and emotional. Ask them “have you or any of your friends felt increasingly worried, or sad lately?” Let them know they can always seek support. They have online information at their fingertips and easily may read about or look up details on depression, suicide, anxiety or other issues. While some of this information can be helpful, some information found independently online may be harmful.
Limit television and news exposure to challenging events. While you want to keep your family educated on the pandemic and current events, be aware that overexposure can lead to anxiety in all ages.
Stick to a routine. Children of all ages benefit from knowing what to expect. Keeping a structure for after school activities, mealtimes, and homework time give them a sense of normalcy in our changing world.
Express gratitude. Consider adding routine discussions of what you are grateful for with your family. Savor the small things- a pretty day, nature, friendships. Gratitude has been proven to ward off depression.
Stay engaged in extracurricular activities connected to school and the community. Athletic involvement and activity keeps us physically and mentally healthy. The arts are a wonderful way to express yourself creatively. Engaged children are happy children.
Allow children to express anger, anxiety or sadness. Sometimes we can shy away from difficult conversations. Expressing emotions by talking often allows people to move forward in a healthy way. Keeping things bottled can be damaging.
Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness focuses on being present, in the moment, with no judgement or worries for the past or future, which can be helpful in the midst of so much uncertainty. There are many mindfulness and meditation apps available that your child could use independently.
Fortunately, the stigma surrounding mental health is decreasing. Any quick google search, news show, or television series can be found referencing mental health struggles and healthy ways to take care of ourselves. Our children need us to acknowledge their emotions, show empathy, and model taking care of our own mental health. As always, if you have concerns for your child’s mental health, please connect with your child’s school counselor as a resource for support.
References and Resources:
Alicia Kelly has served as a School Counselor at Episcopal since 2001. As the Middle School Counselor, she has a passion for helping preadolescents reach their potential, academically, emotionally, and spiritually. Alicia holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, master’s degree in health sciences- rehabilitation counseling, and is a Certified School Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor.
What do desk wiping, a reduction in Fitbit steps and the eye of Joe Burrow say about this year in Middle School? While teaching Middle School is always an adventure, in a pandemic year things are certainly a little more unconventional. Despite the challenges facing faculty, they rise to the occasion daily with grace and calm, and students and families appreciate them for it. So, what is it really like being a teacher in 2020/2021?
“I’m grateful to be here,” says eighth grade teacher Kristina St. George. “Even with all of the things that are hard, it’s much easier to be here.” Walk into St. George’s classroom and initially everything looks normal. The desks are all in rows facing the front in anticipation of another school day. Look closer and you see a bottle of sanitizer, paper towels and taped lines on the carpet outlining the teacher’s workspace. With a reluctant smile, St. George shares that this is the first time the desks in her room have actually been in straight rows because she typically likes to cluster desks into group workspaces. Adjusting the space is just one of the changes St. George and her students have had to make.
This year, teachers spray student desks with sanitizer between each class meeting, which is roughly three or four times a day. That commitment to stopping the spread can be time consuming, but teachers have embraced it as a new part of their school day. Teachers are also working within a designated “teacher zone” in their classroom rather than circulating among students. For teachers like St. George, who traditionally spend a class period walking among desks and discussing the day’s topic, this is a definite detour from their normal operations.
In speaking with teachers, you soon discover that in addition to gratitude for the opportunity to be on campus there is also a common longing for a normal school year. Teachers miss easy interactions with students and lively group discussions and projects. Eighth grade teacher Becky Milligan says group projects have been a challenge. St. George points out that students can no longer share materials or move around, making it difficult to effectively do group work. However, in true Knight fashion, Episcopal teachers are finding ways to continue providing engaging learning experiences for students.
“This has challenged us to think more creatively,” says St. George. In geography, St. George has used the new QUEST Center in Foster Hall to take students to the Amazon rainforest. Students filmed themselves discussing what they’ve learned about this jungle landscape in the center’s Digital Media Lab. To address a common concern with daily face covering requirements, Milligan created the “Masked Emotions” lesson. “It’s hard to read facial expressions,” she says. Earlier this year, as students were learning classroom technology and getting to know each other, Milligan asked them to take snapshots of themselves wearing a mask. Students were asked to express different emotions while wearing the face covering and then share them with others. Such a simple assignment reveals true creativity and the genuine desire teachers have to get to know their students.
Another way in which teachers are getting to know their students is through fun, non-academic activities. St. George and her team of Student Council members have worked hard this year to create excitement for the Middle School student body. St. George says the goal is “to make school a little more fun and still COVID safe.” One such activity was “Name that Celebrity.” Student Council members provided a cropped celebrity image to Middle School Division Head Mark Engstrom to include in the weekly announcements. Students were then asked to identify a celebrity based solely on the image. When a familiar eye and eyebrow appeared many LSU fans readily recognized former QB Joe Burrow. The eye of the tiger wasn’t the only fun activity. Engstrom also challenged students to a “Name that Logo” contest. In addition, Student Council members filmed themselves quizzing their teachers on how much the teachers know about popular social media contributors. These little activities can have a big impact for students. “They get into this kind of stuff,” says St. George. She says it breaks up the day a little bit, and students seem to truly enjoy it.
Teachers and students are doing a tremendous job of finding joy in school life. “I think I’ve grown,” says St. George. “I like a clear plan of action. I’ve learned, ok, well maybe my plan isn’t going to work out because of unforeseen circumstances due to the pandemic.” While the days can be mentally exhausting and first-day-of-school-tiring every day, St. George and her counterparts are thankful to be at Episcopal. “The school has done a really good job of keeping teachers safe,” she says. She points to the efforts to move larger classes into larger spaces to ensure adequate social distancing. She says teachers also appreciate that the administrative team has set up breaks for teachers throughout the day. St. George says teachers are also supporting each other along the way. “We’re finding humor in everyday life,” she says. “We’re finding something that was good each day.”
One day soon, Middle School will return to the more traditional Middle School struggles of preparing for a big test, trying out for the lead part in a play and deciding who to ask to the first dance. Until then, teachers are providing a lesson from which we can all learn – perseverance, determination, love for what you do and who you serve and the ability to find the positive.
We are thankful for our Episcopal teachers. Please join us in sharing your appreciation in the comments section below.
Prayer for Teachers
O Lord, who came into the world to bear witness to the truth and who said that the good and faithful teacher should be greatly accounted of in your kingdom: Send, we pray, your blessing upon all who are engaged in the work of education. Give them clearness of vision and freshness of thought, and enable them to train the hearts and minds of the children so that they may fill their appointed places in the work of this life, and be ready for service in the life to come. Amen.
From Church Publishing’s, School Chapel: Services and Prayers
Episcopal’s Middle School soccer teams have much to celebrate after completing another successful season.
The boys team finished the season undefeated, defeating St. Jude and St. George to earn the Division 1 championship title in the end of the season tournament! Yaseen Zaid and Jacob Berg were the Episcopal scorers.
The girls gold team won the Division 3a championship, defeating West Feliciana 3 – 0. Anna Kurz scored once for the Knights and Hollis Spring scored twice.
The girls navy team finished the final tournament as the Division 1 Runners-Up! The Knights drew the championship game into a 1 – 1 tie but lost the penalty shootout 5 – 4. Claire Moore scored for Episcopal.
Prior to the final tournament, the Middle School teams also had success at the St. Michael the Archangel Holiday Cup Soccer Tournament. The boys and the girls navy teams won their divisions in that tournament with the girls gold team coming very close to reaching the final round. Thank you to the Episcopal Middle School soccer coaches including James Moroney, Phoebe Kantrow, Rhys Lopiparo, Paolo Messina and Eliott Reimann ’19.
“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?’” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
You never know where a walk down the street or an open, honest conversation will lead you. For Coach Tommy Rhea these simple life experiences have helped him discover connection, purpose and love. Through small, consistent acts of kindness and humanity, Coach Rhea does his best to make the world a better place with each person he encounters, and over the course of his career he has encountered many.
Coach Rhea has been a teacher and coach for 46 years, with 27 of those spent as an Episcopal Knight. He has taught four different subjects in five different classrooms and coached hundreds of student athletes. Walk across campus with Coach Rhea and you immediately notice that students are eager to greet him and share the latest news. “Tommy helps students to realize their full potential because he teaches them that they are loved,” says Middle School Division Head Mark Engstrom. “By loving them, Tommy teaches them to love themselves and that confidence plays out in students trying out for new sports, plays, or joining a club they might not have otherwise considered.”
“This man gave up his life for this. He is my hero.”
Coach Rhea’s science classroom is well known for its enthusiastic display of artifacts. As you enter the room, you immediately notice an array of notes, cards, insect collections, microscopes and tree samples. The room reflects what you would expect to find in a space designed for discovery and exploration. A prominent position on a wall near the front is reserved for a large, framed image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Initially, the image may seem out of place until you speak with Coach Rhea about the significance of the man he calls his hero. With true emotion, Coach Rhea discusses how Dr. King dedicated his life to making the world a better place for everyone and how in his own life he strives to do the same. “The more I learn about him the more I appreciate that he was willing to give so much,” he says.
Fueled by that message of compassion and connection, Coach Rhea approaches his role as a teacher with love and joy, letting his actions speak for themselves. As a seventh grade teacher, he readily volunteers to spend a week with eighth graders at Mo Ranch every year. While there, he takes night duty, staying up with students until everyone is sleeping. “The legend among our student body is that ‘Coach Rhea sleeps standing up’ since what they saw each night at Mo Ranch was someone so dedicated to making sure they get their rest that he wouldn’t sit down or leave until they were asleep,” says Engstrom. Coach Rhea also shows his commitment to student athletes. While he no longer coaches as many sports as he once did, he can still be found on the sidelines supporting the team. During a traditional school year, he can be counted on to take Middle School cafeteria duty where he stands, observing and ready to help. Even Coach Rhea’s carpentry hobby is used to help others. “He also listens to what other people need and will spend his weekend in his woodshop to bring in some of his handiwork for others,” says Engstrom. “For example, Tommy has built covers for our lab sinks, bookshelves, etc., for his fellow teachers.”
An Unlikely Episcopal Educator
Even after a tremendous career in the classroom, Coach Rhea says he is an unlikely Episcopal educator. He grew up in the northeast Louisiana town of Lake Providence, just a few miles south of the Arkansas border very near the Mississippi River. At that time, the population of Lake Providence was quite small, segregated and impoverished. Coach Rhea wasn’t a scholar and actually considers himself “a late bloomer” when it comes to academics. “I didn’t take school very seriously,” he says, although he later went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees from LSU. However, as a young boy in the ‘60’s, Coach Rhea’s priorities were sports and spending time with friends.
Later, when his high school integrated, Coach Rhea says some of his classmates transferred to an academy, but he remained. He took physical education with three Black students, and they quickly became genuine friends. Coach Rhea remembers getting ICEEs with his friends when the frozen drinks first came out. “It was a hit,” he recalls with a smile. While getting ICEEs, Coach Rhea befriended another Black teenager named Henry, who worked at the store. Coach Rhea and Henry became very close, having long discussions about life, sports and their future plans. During this time and in this place, such close connections were unconventional, and Coach Rhea remembers others questioning his choices. “I developed friendships with kids that I wasn’t supposed to develop friendships with,” he says. These relationships were meaningful for Coach Rhea and even today he speaks fondly of those times. Then, in April 1968 something occurred that would change Coach Rhea’s life forever.
Coach Rhea was on a trip home from a band festival when he heard about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “It scared me,” he says. Equally as profound was how he felt about the reactions of those around him. Coach Rhea knew that some considered Dr. King to be an agitator and initially he went along with that. However, on the day that Dr. King died, everything changed. “I made a deal with myself that I’m not going to be like that.” Coach Rhea found the inspiration in Dr. King’s message that would define him for decades.
Coach Rhea, the unlikely educator, has done so much for so many. His ability to notice, listen and comfort makes Coach Rhea one of the most loved teachers at Episcopal. The quiet, authentic way in which he approaches others with support and compassion has inspired the Episcopal community for decades. An unintended result of how he has lived his life is that through giving to others, he has also received. A chance meeting outside of LSU’s Hodges Hall led to a lasting relationship with Episcopal Cross Country Coach Claney Duplechin. Through that relationship, Coach Rhea helped the Episcopal coaches with track meets, scouted for the football team and coached girls basketball and volleyball. When an employment opportunity arose, there was no question in the minds of Episcopal administrators that Coach Rhea was the man for the job. He began as a rotating teacher without his own classroom. One teacher he shared space with was Lorren Magee. Lorren and Coach Rhea became close friends and that friendship blossomed into something more. The two were married two years later. This year, they are celebrating 25 years together.
Among the inspiration in his classroom, Coach Rhea displays the friendship wall that originally decorated the walls of Lorren’s room. The colorful, bright drawings and words represent what students value in a friend. Over the course of his tenure at Episcopal, Coach Rhea’s Middle School students have added to those first messages. Also among them are notes students have drafted showing how they value Coach Rhea.
“You were the best teacher and I miss you.”
“Thank you, Coach Rhea for being the best teacher ever.”
“Dear Coach Rhea, Thank you so much for being the greatest teacher ever. I miss you so much.”
With his hero as his guide, Coach Rhea has lived a life in service to others and there is no question that he is ready to do more. We thank him for sharing his kindness with us.
Share a message of appreciation with Coach Rhea in the comments section below.
The excitement generated by recent Middle School soccer victories highlights the importance of sports and school activities. The physical benefits of sports are widely known. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes weight management, reduced risk of disease, strengthening of bones and muscles, improvement of daily life skills and increased chances of living longer among the benefits of physical activity. In addition, CDC highlights important mental health benefits associated with regular physical activity: “Benefits include improved thinking or cognition for children 6 to 13 years of age and reduced short-term feelings of anxiety for adults. Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning and judgement skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and anxiety and help you sleep better.” In addition to the physical benefits, there are numerous other reasons that sports and student engagement are important.
As Middle School Division Head Mark Engstrom has said, “The truth about adolescence is that it’s hard. It’s just hard.” Being a part of a team, an ensemble or a group may help to ease the challenges of this time of transformation. Engstrom reflects on the positive impacts of team participation in his own life. “I was lucky enough in seventh grade to play for three different basketball teams and it changed my life in multiple ways,” he says. “I learned about the benefit of hard work, sacrificing for others, and the responsibility that comes with representing something larger than one’s self.”
Middle School Counselor Alicia Kelly says there is a connection between student involvement in school activities and student happiness and academic success. “I often see that our students perform better academically when they are engaged in a team sport,” she says. “This team commitment seems to keep them centered, with less time to procrastinate. The team sports also offer students the opportunity to form stronger connections and bonds with each other.” At a time when peer relationships are a priority, forming healthy connections are important for a student’s development.
Middle School introduces a range of new and varied opportunities for students to connect with others through sports, activities and clubs. Kelly says it’s the ideal time for students to explore. “You don’t know what your passion is until you try it,” she says. Knowing the importance of student engagement, faculty and administrators were happy to re-introduce Middle School clubs ranging from Peer Leaders to MATHCOUNTS earlier this school year. “Trying new activities, taking a risk, working on a new skill, and working with others are all traits that are beneficial for the rest of a child’s life,” says Engstrom.
Participating in school events also provides students the opportunity to connect through a shared representation of their school. For many young athletes, Middle School is the first time they put on a school jersey. Soccer coach and math teacher James Moroney says it is meaningful to put on that jersey and join your classmates as a team. “It gets the kids invested in the school,” he says. Moroney also points to the importance of family involvement. “What’s nice about Episcopal is it’s a community-based school.” At a school like Episcopal, which serves students in PreK-3 through 12th grade, sports, clubs and activities often provide the perfect backdrop for students and families to come together in support of one another.
While Middle School can be challenging, it is also a time of discovery and excitement as students broaden their experiences. This time of transition can help them build confidence, create valuable peer relationships, develop healthy lifestyle choices and become increasingly more independent. School activities can play a positive role in the overall student experience and pave the way for students to develop into the next generation of leaders.
The Middle School soccer teams had much to celebrate this holiday season with the boys team and the girls navy team winning the Middle School division of the St. Michael the Archangel Holiday Cup Soccer Tournament!
For the first time, the Holiday Cup Tournament featured middle school teams in addition to the high school teams. Episcopal’s Middle School was represented by one boys team and two girls teams. The teams, which were from across south Louisiana, battled through two games to reach the final seeded round. Coach and math teacher James Moroney is proud of what the Knights accomplished.
Let’s Hear it for the Boys!
The Episcopal boys finished the holiday tournament 3 and 0 with wins against Zachary, Most Blessed Sacrament and St. Jean Vianney. The following Episcopal athletes scored:
Philip Auzenne – 1 goal
Jacob Berg – 7 goals
David Olinde – 1 goal
Wynn Turner – 1 goal
Let’s Give the Girls a Hand!
The gold team finished the tournament 1 and 2 and came very close to earning a spot in the final round, which would have pitted them against their navy team classmates. Congratulations to the following competitors for scoring:
Anne Bradley Ewing – 2 goals
Olivia Graham – 1 goal
Virginia Kirkpatrick – 1 goal
Anna Kurz – 1 goal
Hollis Spring – 1 goal
The girls navy team shut out all competitors, finishing 3 and 0 with no goals scored by their opponents. Moroney says goalkeeper Maddie Teague had several nice saves during the tournament and throughout the season. The following athletes added to the navy team’s score tally:
Lucy Cramer – 1 goal
Molly Cramer – 2 goals
Claire Moore – 4 goals
Elizabeth Odom – 2 goals
Eloise Tharp – 1 goal
Grace Waguespack – 2 goals
Moroney points out that 11 different girls scored in the tournament between the two teams, highlighting how well the athletes work together on the field. He says the hard work of the defenders and midfielders often creates great opportunities for the goal scorers on the team.
These talented Middle School athletes are led by a group of dedicated coaches. Moroney is grateful to have Phoebe Kantrow, Rhys Lopiparo, Paolo Messina and Eliott Reimann coaching the boys and girls. With the Holiday Cup win wrapped up, the teams now turn their attention back to league play. The final regular season weekend is January 9th and 10th with the tournament scheduled for January 16th and 17th. Moroney hopes Knights fans will stop by the Burbank Soccer Complex to cheer on the teams.
Saturday, January 9th at 3 pm on Field 10
Sunday, January 10th at 10 am on Field 9
Sunday, January 10th at 1 pm on Field 10
Sunday, January 10th at 8:30 am on Field 03
Sunday, January 10th at 5 pm on Field 13
The Episcopal Middle School soccer teams have earned a reputation for being a talented and dedicated group of competitors. Read more about recent year’s success by clicking here and here.
If we’ve learned anything this school year, it’s that we truly are all in this together. With that in mind, Arts Department Director Paige Gagliano set out on a mission to celebrate the resiliency and spirit of community that in-person learning has required from students and teachers alike. What resulted was a Middle School play that provided hope, humor and joy in a way that only the arts can achieve.
Creating art of any kind this year has required determination and flexibility. However, the arts faculty have never wavered from their commitment to a meaningful student arts experience because of their belief that art has a significant role to play in helping people cope and connect. This year, students have continued making music together by practicing instruments outdoors and even hosting an outdoor band concert. In order to share the traditional “Jazz Nutcracker” dance performance with others in the Upper School community, the dancers were filmed, and the video shared during announcements. The Episcopal singers even found a way to continue the tradition of Lessons and Carols with a filmed rendition that was shared with family and friends.
When the time came to think about a Middle School theater production, that same determination held true. With “We’re All in this Together,” Gagliano and her students developed an offering that told the story of school life during these unique times. The story addresses distance learning, face coverings, the longing for regular school and the loss of loved ones. Ultimately, a sense of gratitude for what we have and all that has been accomplished prevailed, and students celebrated the sacrifices and commitment of everyone who has worked together to make sure learning continues.
Organizing the play was no easy feat. There were ongoing adjustments to the script, stage blocking and role assignment revisions and numerous starts and stops. “You know how it is doing a show about a pandemic during a pandemic…things happen,” says Gagliano. After the roller coaster planning process, the show made its debut. Students, families, faculty and staff truly appreciated the experience, with Middle School Division Head Mark Engstrom offering “appreciation of the Herculean efforts.”
As we celebrate the holiday season, we offer thanks for the spirit of a Knight that drives our community forward, whether it’s in the classroom, on the stage or on the field.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Compassionate, curious, subject matter experts. Teachers are often described this way. Educators in the year 2020 can also be described as adaptable, flexible, creative and determined. Most parents who spent time at home with their children during the spring’s quarantine would agree that teaching can be difficult. This year, more than ever, teachers are being challenged to engage students in creative and appropriate ways. They are rising to the challenge and finding ways to do just that through collaboration and innovative thinking.
How do you teach science six feet apart?
Middle School science teacher Stacy Hill loves teaching science, especially the hands-on experiences that her sixth graders enjoy, such as archaeological digs or constructing model buildings to withstand earthquakes. To make science come to life this school year, Hill teamed up with Roman history expert Steve Latuso and tapped into technology to create a lesson on volcanoes that wowed students.
Sixth graders are naturally intrigued by volcanoes. These disasters seem far away and more exciting than the summer hurricanes that are common closer to home. Students were eager to learn about the causes of volcanoes, the types that exist and the impact that volcanoes have on the planet. They were also excited to learn about historically significant eruptions such as that of Mount Vesuvius which buried Pompeii in 25 meters of ash in 79 A.D. To build upon student enthusiasm, Hill collaborated with Latuso who previously taught Middle School Latin in addition to his role in the Episcopal IT department. While Hill discussed the ash and its impacts, Latuso focused on the details of daily life in ancient Rome. “The kids felt like they had a guest speaker,” says Hill. “He’s an expert in something I’m not.” The collaboration provided the students the best of both worlds as they learned science and history in the same class period.
Would you stay or would you go?
To create a complementary hands-on experience, Hill and Latuso turned to technology. Using Google Earth, the duo took students on a tour of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii. Discussions quickly turned to the realities of living near an active volcano and whether the students would stay or go in the event of an eruption. For the lesson, students had to stay and devise a way to reduce the impact. In years past, constructing a volcano and an eruption reduction system would have been done in groups using modeling clay and props. In 2020, students brought their ideas to life using Minecraft: Education Edition. This tech twist was a hit. “I’m blown away,” says Hill. “I was completely amazed at the level of engagement.” Hill says students assisted each other and imagined the impacts to homes, people and even pets near their virtual volcanoes. Students who may not otherwise speak up in class had the opportunity to share their building talents with classmates, providing them a meaningful opportunity to shine. “It’s meeting them where they are,” says Hill. “It puts the engagement at another level.”
Latuso used Minecraft: Education Edition in a similar way last school year when he challenged Middle School Latin students to construct a Roman bath using the virtual blocks. “Student engagement was off the charts,” he says. He was pleased to see a similar reaction this year. “It’s not surprising, but it is inspiring,” he says. “It’s an inclusive way where everybody could experience it. Students worked individually and collaboratively simultaneously. I think it’s cool that we are a school that can do this.”
There is more excitement in store for students. Before the Christmas holiday, the volcano enthusiasts will participate in an archaeological project in the QUEST Center in Foster Hall. Center Coordinator Dr. Elizabeth Lewis teamed up with Hill to organize an exciting experience that is sure to send students home with visions of the ancient past dancing in their heads.
Episcopal math lessons include everything from the latest technology to tried-and-true instruments that humans have relied upon for ages. Recently, the QUEST Center in Foster Hall has been buzzing with the sounds of students crunching numbers in some very creative ways.
A sixth grade lesson on ratios and speed went well beyond calculators and textbooks. To start, students learned a lesson from the track and field playbook and ran laps around the field house track to study speed. For the culminating activity, teacher Nancy Calloway brought students to the QUEST Center’s Digital Media Lab where they used Lego Mindstorms EV3 robots to determine average speed and distance traveled. In small groups, students worked together to make observations and calculations. Calloway says the integration of technology provided the opportunity for collaboration with experienced students taking on the role of experts. “It has been a joy to see these students step up to the challenge and help others along the way,” she says.
Marking Time with Equations
As sixth graders explored speed, just across the QUEST Center eighth graders were creating equations to display the time on a clock. “During the last two or three weeks of this semester, I wanted to work on strengthening some important skills that my students would need for their Upper School classes,” says eighth grade math teacher James Moroney. “One of those skills is solving equations.” However, Moroney didn’t want to simply have students solve problems in the classroom, so he devised a creative, new way to make the lesson more engaging. For the assignment, students had to write an equation that when solved represents the number on a clock. After solving the equation, students then had to design the clock face and construct the clock with gears and hands. The clocks will later be gifted to the Episcopal teacher of their choice.
We Love Fractions
In Kitchen Chemistry, fourth graders baked cookies inspired by the book “The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street” by Karina Yan Glaser. The recipe required the students to use their new knowledge of fractions as they measured out brown sugar and flour. Students also learned how to sift flour and mix dough. When discussing the project and the ½ teaspoons of this and 3 tablespoons of that, the students were confident with fractions. Once the cookies were baked, students rotated to the QUEST Center Great Hall where they used Lego bricks to build a replica of the Vanderbeeker home. It was the perfect combination for a reading and arithmetic lesson.
QUEST Center Space Adds Up
“When problem solving, it is important for students to be able to experiment and test their results,” says Calloway. “Having a space where they can actually see and do the experiment and test the results in real time allows students to make conjectures, verify or refute the results and ultimately improve their ability to ‘apply’ mathematics to the real world.” With 14,000 square feet of learning space, the QUEST Center provides ample space for mathematical exploration. Calloway began using the robots last year, but she says this year the added space in the QUEST Center made a significant difference. “The QUEST Center allows for open spaces where the students are able to spread out (social distance) while still working with a partner or group to complete a hands-on task,” she says.
Moroney says the QUEST Center provides an opportunity for students to explore real world applications of math concepts such as ratios, distance and time. “One of the most important things that the QUEST Center offers to our students, especially in math, is the ability to do trial and error in problem solving,” he says. “The space that the QUEST Center provides as well as the different tools and technology in which the students are exposed allows them to experiment with mathematical (and scientific concepts) in a way that allows them to make mistakes and correct them in an incredibly engaging way.” Moroney plans to continue finding opportunities to use the space this school year. Liz Crawford, whose fourth grade class baked cookies and built houses all in one class period, appreciates the ease of conducting lessons in the facility. “The space makes it so doable,” she says in between measuring and mixing. The fourth grade lesson was appreciated by QUEST Center Coordinator Dr. Elizabeth Lewis. “This week, passing by the Chemistry Kitchen, one could hear fourth graders figuring out the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, the importance of sifting flour, and how to read and to double a recipe,” she says. “Baking chocolate cookies from scratch is a delicious way to practice math skills.”
The learning and excitement that fills the QUEST Center each day is inspiring for Dr. Lewis. “My heart is full when I see students moving around our new spaces, trying different solutions to problems, tweaking their solutions when they aren’t quite right, and then testing out the revised plans until they work just right,” she says. In just a short time, Dr. Lewis and the QUEST Center have already provided a range of new learning opportunities for Lower and Middle School students. We can’t wait to see what they do during the rest of the school year!
Congratulations to the following students for their outstanding performances on national language exams!
National Spanish Exam Results 2020
National Latin Exam Results 2020
Class of 2024
Joey Roth, National Latin Exam Silver
Ayush Patel, National Latin Exam Gold
Baylen Sim, National Latin Exam Silver
Class of 2023
Scott McAdams, National Latin Exam Gold
Noah Russell, National Latin Exam Silver
James Be, National Latin Exam Honorable Mention
Class of 2022
Sarah Griffith, National Latin Exam Gold; National Latin Translation Contest Certificate of
Commendation; National Mythology Exam Bronze
Justin Dynes, National Latin Exam Gold; National Latin Vocabulary Exam Silver; National
Mythology Exam Bronze
Arya Patel, National Latin Exam Silver; National Latin Vocabulary Exam Gold; National Mythology
Julian Romano, National Latin Exam Honorable Mention
Jack Williams, National Latin Vocabulary Exam Bronze
Class of 2021
Abhay Basireddy, National Latin Exam Gold; National Latin Vocabulary Exam Gold;
National Latin Translation Contest Book Award Winner
Robert Xing, National Latin Exam Gold; National Latin Vocabulary Exam Bronze;
National Mythology Exam Bronze
Madison Bell, National Latin Exam, Honorable Mention