As I and many other high schoolers can attest, the past couple of months of quarantine, social distancing, and lack of interaction with our peers have not been the most exciting of times. I can still remember our last day of school. I finished my day with track practice, and even though we had been informed of the potential of school closing, the idea seemed unrealistic, and I certainly didn’t anticipate my junior year to end so abruptly. The quick and unexpected end to our physical school year left many without a sense of closure. We all felt for the graduating seniors and their loss, and for many of us as we begin transitioning into the next year, it almost feels as if last school year didn’t exactly end.
Being the outgoing teenage boy I am, the end of school meant the end of sports, the end of so many daily interactions, and the end of many countless little things I never knew I took for granted. I think I can speak for many when I say the first couple of days of online school genuinely didn’t seem too bad. We slept in, got our work done, and had a little extra free time. However, it wasn’t long before we all felt an unusual sense of loneliness. As cliche and normalized as so many little things throughout the school day are, we never realize how much we enjoy or even need them. Whether it’s racing to the front of the line to be the first one to get lunch, Coach Anderson cracking a joke before giving us a math lesson, or Coach Dupe getting us prepared for a big track meet for the weekend, it is the small acts and interactions that make Episcopal like a second home to me and so many other students. It’s not just where we go to learn, carry textbooks, and take notes, it is so much more than that. I and so many others have made many meaningful relationships at Episcopal throughout our time at the school, and this extended time away from school has, without a doubt, made us all cherish and value them so much more.
As we to return to school, despite how the environment may change due to the uncertainty of situations going on within the state and the world around us, we aren’t just preparing our minds to get lectured on the Pythagorean theorem or on learning the importance of mitochondria in living organisms. We’re getting ready to return to an environment we call home. A place where we interact with some of our closest friends and one with a wonderful group of teachers and faculty, who I know want nothing more than to see myself and other members of my class graduate and get ready to take the next step in our lives. I have never once admitted during the summer that I was ready to go back to school, no matter how many times an adult asked me. In the end, it’s because I never truly appreciated “school” for all it really is to me. However, this year as I finish cramming summer reading, pack my bag with pencils that will magically disappear within the first three weeks, and give a large sigh as my mom begs me to take my final first day of school picture, I can truthfully say I’m ready to go back to school. I’m ready to return home.
Oliver Jack is entering his Senior year, has attended Episcopal since Pre-K, and competes on the football, track, and powerlifting teams at school. He hopes to study engineering in college.
Adam Reid shared his project with his peers on LAUNCH Day, which took place on March 6, 2020. Adam, a member of ESTAAR, conducted research in an LSU lab. He designed and built a device that could identify fluids by measuring their electrical capacitance, and he hoped the device might make work in the oil and gas industry safer and help to keep the environment clean. Adam’s research responds directly to a need we have right here in our home state.
Living in Louisiana most of my life, I can’t help but have noticed some of the things that make this state so special. Everyone knows about how good our music is. Our food speaks for itself, too. Some people come here to enjoy the Cajun culture they can’t get elsewhere. Some come for the ultra-intense sporting events. Some just want to relax, enjoy, and explore the bayous. There are not many other places that have this in common with us. But Louisiana is unique for more than just being a cool place to live. Our economy is one of the most important in the nation and the world outside, and we have none other than crude oil to thank.
As is, there is a widespread motivation to improve the crude oil extraction process. Most of that motivation comes from the daily desires of ordinary people and consumers. It’s impossible to understate the near impossibility of living a life that isn’t impacted by crude oil in some way. Most people are aware of crude oil’s implication on transportation. Our daily commute, our grocery runs, our delivery services, etc., are all contingent on crude oil in some way or another. And so is the road surface. And tires. Electronics. Detergents. Food preservatives. Polyester clothing. Cosmetic products. Toothpaste. Shoes. And plastics, to name a few. Keep a list of all the normal things we do and use each day, and it’s easy to see just how much crude oil impacts our lives.
We have to get crude oil from the ground somewhere. But at what cost? As is, the way that we get most of it is simple enough. We dig deep holes where we think the oil is, wait for something to force itself to the top, and verify whether or not it’s a useful site. Workers can stand by and monitor what is being extracted as it comes out.
Here’s the problem: the mixture that comes from the ground usually isn’t a pure sample of crude oil, and the process of it coming out of the ground isn’t a gentle one. The mixture that arises is usually a mixture of things including water and other gases. However, there is little way for workers to know exactly what is in the mixture coming up from deep below the ground until it reaches the surface. If the mixture ends up containing too much water or, worse, too much gas, potentially disastrous consequences await. In many cases, the risks of working in an oil field are great. Any accident, though small initially, can escalate into something that is detrimental to our environment and is deadly for the people involved. No matter how we choose to get our energy and produce our goods, finding a way to preserve our own lives and the world that we live in needs to take priority.
And so, my research was born. I set out to demonstrate a way that crude oil extraction could be made to be safer for workers, to pose less of an environmental threat, and to explore ideas related to science and engineering that might inspire others to think and to cherish the amazing opportunities in the world around. Although the results of my research were mixed at best, I still managed to make a cheap, simple, and reproducible device, which was a proof of concept that can be used in future research.
Adam is a current senior. He is the Honor Council President, a National Merit Finalist, and is a member of the National Honor Society. He is a long-time member of the select Wind Ensemble group and is the current Treasurer of the Mu Alpha Theta club. When he is not inundated with school, he enjoys biking, inline skating, and catching up with friends.
Sara Be shared her project with her peers on LAUNCH Day, which took place on March 6, 2020. Sara, a Thesis student, traveled to El Salvador during the summer of 2019 to film a documentary that accompanied her research about immigration, media, truth and storytelling. Her thesis challenges us all to look beyond the one-dimensionality of media and search for the stories that will bring depth to any issue. After reading her article below, you can view her full documentary here.
At home, my father, an immigrant from Indonesia, and my mother, an immigrant from El Salvador, held extremely different ideas on the topic immigration from each other--both of their independent immigration stories forming their personal opinions. Through my observations of my parents’ quarrels over politics, I discovered a disparity between the reality of the immigrant perspective and what I was seeing on the TV screen. Although we, United States citizens, are constantly exposed to the viewpoints of politicians and commentators, rarely are we given information from the perspective of immigrants themselves. I never saw a diversity of stories within mass media, just generalizations of countries or even larger areas to make a prepared point. We are deluded because we are often exposed to a false one-dimensionality of the immigrant’s story.
Fortunately, the strong media influences on public perception and policy can be used in a positive manner that detects biases and fallacies, seeking to enlighten media consumers instead of convincing them to support an political agenda. Storytelling of all types and mediums can have a tremendous effect on shaping people’s characters and opinions, just like the immigration stories of my parents affected my outlook on my country and the world of humans existing beyond its borders. Every human has their own personal truth, bringing a set of experiences as unique as their fingerprint to the table and adding a new side to the story; and although we can’t possibly comprehend every angle and approach to a concept, we can at least acknowledge that they exist and strive to take them into account as we make decisions and react to the world around us.
Stories have profound effects in politics. A critical strategy relating to this relationship between policy and stories is the use of policy narratives, using narratives to influence public opinion on policy matters. Although letting personal perspectives affect policy formation is what I am arguing for, when policy narratives are shared to mass media, they are often manipulated to only be expressed in a certain light. Twisted policy narratives are a worrisome concept because citizens may not be receiving the entirety of a policy or political decision, but a version that has been altered to show only the bits and pieces the media editor wants the consumer to see, a version that portrays a sole aspect or side to the story.
However, stories can be used in a way that positively influences thought over political policy. Politicians can use storytelling as a powerful tool to relay authentic stories that help listeners envision their aspirations and establish credibility. A truly authentic story will complicate the issue, because reality is always complicated. But understanding these complications aid citizens to gain an understanding of issues and possible solutions beyond surface level opinion.
How can a single story have so much influence, even enough to alter political policies? Stories transport one’s consciousness, a power they possess that cannot be replicated. When contemplating this notion, many may think of stories as transporting people to the unreal or inauthentic, because they physically are not being transported. However, this could not be more untrue. The transportation of the mind to another realm is just as valid, if not more valid, than the transportation of the body. Humans live the vast majority of their lives in their minds, and through absorbing stories they can broaden their understanding of the world around them without having to physically travel.
The invaluable result of purposeful stories is empathy, the stimulant that makes people care enough to build connections, delving deeper than soundbites and headlines, even when the issue doesn’t directly affect them.
Any given issue has infinite dimensions and viewpoints that reach far deeper than impersonal statistics. Although we can never as individuals begin to capture the entirety of a construct in our naturally biased minds, through intertwining our personal stories and the authentic stories of others in conversation and collaboration, we are awakened to the novel possibilities that exist when we obtain the collective consciousness that individual narratives shared and mixed with each other result in beautifully evolved, hybrid ideas. This way of thought could alter how we approach immigration policy, aiding decision makers to visualize essential components of the issue and construct insightful solutions. To put this proposed solution into action, I focused on the country of El Salvador and filmed a documentary capturing genuine perspectives of the natives, asking them questions related to their representation in US mass media.
Sara Be is a current senior. She is Student Body President, a National Merit Finalist, and a member of the National Honor Society. She has also served this year as Thespian Club President and Swim Team Captain. For the past few years Sara has participated in the school musical and tutored in the Episcopal Writing Center. Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with friends and family. Sara will be attending Duke University in the fall.
“If you don’t understand the past, you’re not going to get the future.” Isabella Ruiz grew up frequently hearing this advice from her grandmother Nilda Maria Aguirre. Now as a sophomore Isabella is a history enthusiast. For the second year in a row, she qualified for the National History Day state competition. This year’s project holds a special meaning for her as she worked with classmates Zykia Howard and Barrow Alexander to document her grandmother’s immigration to the United States from Cuba.
“My grandmother is one of the most inspiring women I know,” says Isabella. Isabella had never watched a documentary before her Upper School history teacher Vincent Hoang encouraged her to transform a classroom assignment into a documentary inspired by her grandmother’s journey. Being open to new projects and full of excitement, Isabella dove right into the effort and thus, “The Expense of Freedom” documentary was born. Early on her classmates volunteered to help and the three students traveled to Hammond to interview Nilda. The trio poured over documents, photographs and treasures that Nilda had kept since arriving in America in 1961. They also sat down to film her as she shared what it was like to leave her homeland at the age of five with one suitcase and her favorite doll.
Isabella and her team ended up with 45 minutes of raw footage. There was the story of young Nilda defending her doll from airport security and the tale of Nilda’s father nearly being pulled from the airplane. Nilda described what it felt like to be in a new country without her extended family and the people she knew. There is also a deep sense of gratitude for the freedom that Nilda and her parents gained. Nilda has always told Isabella that the family didn’t come to America for wealth, but for a better life and the opportunity to embrace the American dream. Part of that dream included education. Nilda is a passionate advocate for education. Isabella says her grandmother often reminds her that education is something that no one can take from you and that while materials may disappear your education sticks with you.
“The Expense of Freedom” documentary is something that will stick with Isabella and her partners Zykia and Barrow for some time. Isabella says it was nice to share the experience with her classmates as the two knew little of the Cuban immigrant experience prior to this. “The experience gave great insight into the struggles of the Cuban people in that era,” says Zykia. “Working on the project gave me a greater appreciation of the things immigrants have to endure to gain the opportunities provided in the United States. By researching information, I’ve learned many new things.”
Projects such as “The Expense of Freedom” documentary are a great example of the hands-on learning and in-depth exploration that occurs at Episcopal. “I am so proud of the excellent work our students did during this project,” says history teacher Hoang. “As one of their many advisors, National History Day embodies the learning process and what we strive to accomplish here at Episcopal. From brainstorming to producing a viable product, the students are able to learn and grow from the entire process. This year was an exceptional year as students produced a wide variety of works - from documentaries to in-depth papers; the breaking boundaries theme provided a vehicle for them to push their creativity to the fullest.”
For Isabella and her family, “The Expense of Freedom” documentary is much more than an assignment. The experience has provided them a meaningful way to preserve the powerful story of a young girl and her family embarking on a journey to freedom. To watch “The Expense of Freedom” click here.
Congratulations to all of the Episcopal Upper School students who recently participated in the History Day event at the West Baton Rouge Museum.
Senior Research Paper
1st place - Muskaan Mahes
2nd place - Tanya Mencer
3rd place - Emily Lynch
4th place - Zoe Marceaux
Senior Individual Documentary
1st place - Fox Garon
Senior Group Documentary
1st place - Isabella Ruiz, Zykia Howard, and Barrow Alexander
1st place - Carter McLean
2nd place - Muskaan Mahes
Semifinalists - Fox Garon, Emily Lynch, Zoe Marceaux
Additional participants: Ruby Friloux and Ellie Williams
Students and faculty will return from Mardi Gras break this year to a week of LAUNCH 2020 festivities. Although the majority of the presentations will take place on Friday, March 6th, the official day of LAUNCH, several presentations and activities will lead up to the big day. Planning and preparation have been underway for months, as students have taken projects and work that they are passionate about and adapted their in-depth knowledge into an engaging presentation. This is what LAUNCH is all about -- coming together as a community to celebrate some of the most exciting moments of learning. Our students act on their own passion and curiosity to create something authentic, then boldly stand before an audience to share what they’ve discovered.
What you’ll see during LAUNCH week are distilled versions of much larger projects. ESTAAR students, for instance, spend over 100 hours in a laboratory working to test their hypotheses and collaborate with research assistants and professors. Some Thesis students have 50 pages of content written to support their argument. And, of course, the "Mamma Mia" session is just a joyful teaser of what’s to come in a few weeks. But each presentation and project has been carefully crafted for a very specific audience: their peers. For these presenters to take their ideas and new understanding, crafting it into a presentation to share with an auditorium full of their friends and classmates requires a great deal of vulnerability and bravery. When you watch these presentations, it will be apparent that these students care deeply about what they have learned, so much so that they care about sharing that learning with others. By sharing so openly about these ideas, our students are creating an opportunity for dialogue and engagement with their classmates that would be difficult to bring about in a typical classroom setting.
Check out the schedule for LAUNCH week and get excited to learn at LAUNCH -- there will be many opportunities to look at topics from new perspectives and celebrate the success of our incredible Episcopal students.
LAUNCH 2020 Merchandise is available for purchase in the library. Shirts are $20 and fanny packs are $8 -- buy both for $25.
Tiffany has been an educator for twelve years and serves as the Director of Library at Episcopal. A lifelong resident of Baton Rouge, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education from Southeastern Louisiana University and her Masters in Educational Technology Leadership from Northwestern State University of Louisiana. She has served as the President for ISTE’s Librarians Network and was recognized as one of ISTE’s 2014 Emerging Leaders. Tiffany is National Board Certified in Library Media and was named one of the 2014 Library Journal Movers & Shakers. She was the 2016 recipient of the Louisiana Library Media Specialist Award and is a past president of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians. In 2019, she received the ISTE Librarians’ Network Award for her work in Aldrich Library at Episcopal. Tiffany speaks regularly at state, national, and international conferences on school library and technology topics.
Through a collaboration with her peers, Lower School teachers, and Arts teachers, Episcopal Dance Master Seminar and Senior Thesis student Christine Myer recently got to serve as a dance teacher to 45 first graders. Christine shares that experience as well as a few of the discoveries she’s made as a dancer and researcher that has inspired her to become a vocal proponent of encouraging dance in young children.
I approach around forty-five eager first graders as they wait for my instruction. I begin to lead an age-appropriate warm-up, which precedes teaching choreography to a minute-long song--just enough to get their blood pumping. One kid had just told the room that she hates dancing, another told me he was okay with it, some kids loved it, but most of them did not appear to be beyond thrilled. While these first graders were in the middle of their “healthy selves” unit, I wanted to show them how dance is a perfect example of a healthy habit. The movements within their dance were not overly simplified, but they were not impossible either; they would require practice and motivation, but the goal, in the long run, was to create a sense of pride and confidence among the kids. At such a young age, they are not as prone to the comparison they will soon face in the world, but it is crucial that we establish this self-confidence and healthy esteem in these kids before they try to seek satisfaction from other sources.
Imagine yourself as a teenager, or even tougher-- a tweenager (in-between kid and teenager). You are awkwardly growing into who you are, forming your belief system and developing character traits. You most likely came face to face with true pressure, conflict, and unsureness for the first time during these years. Imagine life back then, but add social media and the internet to the mix. How would you have handled Instagram and Snapchat and Twitter and YouTube when you were younger? Wouldn’t it make adolescence even more complicated than it was?
We frequently hear that kids and teenagers are a vulnerable group, but why? Well, their brain development is complex. They face two major developmental tasks over the course of adolescence: forming their identity and making decisions. But both of these tasks, though, rely on brain structures that are not fully developed until after their teenage years, as described by Eugenia Ives. This means that children and teens must navigate their identity and decisions without the development and knowledge that an adult possesses. Instead, kids’ brains are forced to make quick, fight or flight decisions that are not always logical or well-thought-out, especially when it relates to an emotional issue. Therefore, teenagers have a lower capacity of self-regulation, which gives way to peer pressure and risky behaviors among the age group. Adding the fast-paced, spontaneous world of social media to this situation only complicates the teenage brain because it provides teens with an accessible place for their risky behavior. The brain produces dopamine, a feel-good chemical, during technological stimulation, so interactions on social media provoke excitement and instant gratification among users. This is what makes social media addictive. Because it feels so rewarding, it easily influences the vulnerable teenager and is capable of separating them from one another.
With this information, it is crucial that teens are aware of what holds them back, and they should know how to cope with their developing brain. The complexity of a teen’s brain development, especially with the influence of social media, can produce harmful effects including poor body image, low confidence, and overall weak self-esteem. The modern teenager needs a way to stimulate their brain in a healthy manner, in a way that combats the impact that social media has on it. Physical activity successfully does this, and dance, to be specific, has the power to boost self-esteem and help us navigate our life and identity.
When the body exercises, the brain feels stress and releases the same chemicals that are released during interactions on social media. Endorphins are our bodies’ natural pain killers, so they serve as a potent mental health and esteem booster and give exercise its addictive effect.
Here are some more reasons on how dance provides teenagers with more of the simplicity and clarity that they need:
So whenever you think back to when you were a teenager, think of how you coped with stress and compare it to today’s world. Encourage the younger generation to gain satisfaction from more reliable and healthy sources. Social media and the internet help us in our daily lives, but too much dependence on it alters our vision of reality and leads to unnecessary stress, whereas we can find a strong sense of reward and boost of esteem by merely dancing. Like one of the first graders told me after dancing, dance “makes [you] have a big, big, big, big, big smile on [your] face!”
Christine Myer is a senior who has attended Episcopal since Pre-K. She is senior class president and a member of student vestry. As an active student of campus, she is in dance ensemble and is involved in musical theater. Christine is also a writing fellow, student ambassador, and member of National Honors Society. She loves the community and opportunities Episcopal offers through programs like Thesis and the arts.
When new students arrive on campus on orientation day, for tours or for a shadow day, I love to be the student ambassador with a friendly face that is there for them to answer all of their questions and to try and show them the special aspects of the Episcopal community.
It all started with my eighth-grade self, an outsider to Episcopal, who was terrified to show up to orientation day. I had no idea where anything was, who anyone was, and what exactly I had to do. However, when I arrived at school, two student ambassadors greeted me, answered all of my questions, and took me through my first orientation day with ease. They made me feel at home.
I thought to myself as I was going home, “I would love to help new students and families the way they helped me today.” So, when I got the email from Mrs. Manton asking students if they wanted to be a student ambassador, I immediately filled out the application. I saw this as an opportunity to show new and prospective students around our beautiful campus. Taking them through the VPAC hall with the student-made murals, giving them a taste of what the classrooms and teachers have to offer by introducing them to our wonderful teachers, and showing them the athletic facilities that a majority of our students participate in all the while answering questions about student life, workload, my favorite lunch (cheese ravioli), and anything else they think to ask. That is my favorite part of being a student ambassador.
For me, the job of student ambassador is a way for new and prospective students and parents to hear the voice of the students. It is important enough to me that during my free study on Tuesday mornings last year, whenever there was a tour, I would volunteer to be one of the students to lead it instead of getting ahead on school work or taking a much needed nap. I was upbeat and happy to be there at 8:00 in the morning to meet new families and prospective students, which I will say is rare for any teenager, but it happened.
Every student ambassador walks a different path at Episcopal, but we all make up the community here. We represent all of the opportunities students are given here and are able to talk about them because we participate in them. We provide a different voice, the voice of the student, the kids who live the Episcopal life every day, which is why I love being a student ambassador.
Sydney Summerville is a member of the senior class of 2020. She is a student ambassador, a writing fellow, participates in the select choir, and has played basketball and softball all four years of high school. She plans to play softball and major in nursing in college.
Student Ambassadors play a key role in welcoming new students to the Episcopal community. To learn more about the Episcopal admission process, click here or click on a button below.
The day I got an email from Yale accepting me to their summer pre-college program (YYGS), I felt all sorts of emotions. I was surprised, excited, and anxious all at the same time. I could not believe that I would be spending two weeks of my summer with top students from all over the world at one of my dream schools. In the last two weeks of summer, there I was driving down York Street in New Haven, Connecticut, ready to settle into my new home for the next two weeks: Davenport College, one of the fourteen residential colleges at Yale University. I stepped into the beautifully manicured courtyard of the college and immediately received friendly hellos and warm welcomes. Once the program got started, I attended several lectures, seminars, and simulations. Each day, I got to experience something new and exciting related to biology. I heard a lecture from one of the most famous climate change researchers in the world. I got to see the labs where graduate students were researching new types of cancer treatment. And I even tried writing computer code. In one exercise, my new friends and I exchanged ideas on how to stop an influenza outbreak. In another exercise, my group members and I bounced ideas off one another for our Capstone presentation, a camp-long research presentation; ours was entitled “Save the Bees.” These are only a few of the incredible things I got to experience while attending YYGS.
But these experiences were only the beginning of all that I received from the program. By the time it was over, I had made friends from all over the world. Some of my closest friends were from Kenya, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and South Korea. I still keep in touch with all of them and hope to continue our friendships well into the future. With people coming from so many different places, I was naturally worried about culture clashes. However, I was pleasantly surprised once the program began. I was amazed at how so many diverse people with such different values had gathered together because of their shared passion for biology and medicine. In this group, I did not feel like an American studying the basics of biology; I felt like a part of a global community. We were all curious students who wanted to make a difference in the world. Everyone brought the benefit of their different experiences. While we did celebrate the uniqueness and diversity of the students in the program, we also chose to focus on our similarities. We focused on how we all loved biology and medicine. We focused on cooperating with one another to solve problems, learning new concepts, and thinking about how we could make an impact in our communities.
When I first accepted the invitation to join the summer program, I was initially doing it for the academic opportunity. I did not think I could do any better than to study at Yale. While these opportunities were great, they were superficial features of the program. There was a deeper purpose for the program. I discovered that this opportunity was not about what school I spent two weeks at. The YYGS program is about the people in it, and our collaboration, cooperation, and passion. YYGS was one of the most incredible opportunities that I have been able to experience. The activities I participated in and the people I met were like no other. There truly is nothing that compares, and I am glad to say that I am a YYGS alumna.
Katherine Scarton is a junior in her fifth year at Episcopal. In addition to her involvement in the Thesis program, she is both a math and writing tutor and an active member of Mu Alpha Theta, Science Olympiad, and the Center for Service Learning. She also plays varsity soccer and serves as secretary of the Spanish National Honors Society. Katherine enjoys being such an active member of the Episcopal community and wants to continue exploring the opportunities that Episcopal has to offer.
Mason LaFerney, National Merit Finalist
Mason LaFerney’s Writing Center journey began in eleventh grade, as did the ever-growing strength of his passion for writing. Mason admits that one of his reasons for applying to this program was to earn a coveted spot on the cozy couches of Perkins 211. The coffee and snacks also acted as an incentive for his decision. All jokes aside, when turning in his application, Mason hoped to earn the chance to help other writers become more confident in themselves and their work. Mason’s positive and encouraging criticism served him well when tutoring freshmen literacy narratives, his favorite type of writing to work with. He prides himself in being able to calm the often-nervous freshmen, as he remembers vividly how anxiety-inducing walking into the Writing Center for the first time was for him. Mason favors tutoring freshmen because he finds them the most vulnerable of all the high school English students. He claims that “new freshmen are almost always willing to share their work more openly. I find them especially interesting because they are in a way ‘untainted’ by the societal norms or constraints brought on by high school.” One of Mason’s most memorable appointments occurred during his junior year when a student needed help with a paper for English I, due the next day. Mason managed to handle the added stress of the encroaching due date well until the student revealed that he actually hadn’t started his paper yet. With this information only revealed to Mason nearly halfway into the appointment, Mason had to apply his calming techniques to himself! Needless to say, this appointment definitely taught Mason how to deal with difficult tutoring situations.
I met Mason for the first time this year during study hall in the Writing Center. His hilarious recounts of personal stories and overall lighthearted personality will most definitely be missed by Mollie Hyde and me. Mason, I wish you the best of luck at college. I know you will do amazing things up in Boston. Your kind encouragement will certainly be missed by Block 4 study hall and the Writing Center as a whole, but we are sure that you will shine even from 1, 400 miles away!
- By Grace Scott
Alyssa Macaluso, National Merit Finalist
Alyssa Macaluso’s dedication and love for the Writing Center is incomparable. Alyssa found working in the Writing Center as a great way to give back to her community; she describes her experience as “fun, but not forced.” She originally wanted to become a fellow because she loved students having a peer-based resource on campus to help them with their writing, reducing their stress level. Alyssa works hard to make the writers feel comfortable and calm. Every time I have had an interaction with Alyssa, she has always been friendly, willing, and kind. Although I never had a Writing Center appointment with her, I know that these qualities shined through during her appointments with students. She also became a fellow because English is her strong suit. She believes she has a good knowledge of grammar, and she is equally skilled at helping students see the “big picture” in their essays. Alyssa also loves creative pieces, especially personal narratives. She believes that it is important to “Hear other people's stories,” so that the tutor can really get to know the student. She also enjoys literary analyses because they are “clear cut.” Additionally, Alyssa has always “looked up to Writing Fellows.” Fellows always seemed like the coolest people to her, and she strived to be like them. Similarly, I have always looked up to Alyssa.
Poised to graduate, Alyssa has learned a lot from the Writing Center and made many memories. Working with students helps her see other perspectives and think of writing topics in ways she had never thought of. One of her favorite memories in the Center comes from when she, a freshman, was revising a ghost story for Dr. deGravelles’s portfolio project with an older fellow, and a horrible thunderstorm hit the school. As everyone remembers, lightning struck the tree in the quad. However, what only a few people experienced was that right when the lightning struck the tree, she was reading a pivotal point in her story. This alone made her session memorable, and she was eager to come back for more. Fortunately for the entire Episcopal community, Alyssa never stopped coming back to the Writing Center.
– By Ellie Sim
Major: Public Policy
Morgan Patty began her career in the Writing Center with the goal of helping her peers enjoy writing. Throughout her three years in the Writing Center, she states that not only has she been able to help students improve their writing, but students have helped her improve her own writing. Seeing an array of students’ pieces, Morgan has learned various techniques that have led to new methods in how she writes. Jumping at the opportunity to help students with creative writing and DBQs, Morgan was always ready to advise students on their papers’ voice, grammar, and punctuation. The Writing Center, Morgan says, has given her many opportunities to befriend a variety of people on campus. It has acted as a “web of connections between younger and older students.” This web was sprung into action during Morgan’s first Writing Center appointment. As a freshman, Morgan walked into the Writing Center nervous for what was to come. Her tutor greeted her into the Center, and the two quickly became close friends. Finally, Morgan wants to leave the Writing Center with one word of advice for incoming fellows: participate in all Writing Center activities, start Waffle Workshops, and most of all, have fun because time flies by in the Writing Center. Morgan, we appreciate your contributions to the Writing Center. You are one of the students that has reached out and created more connections between your peers and the fellows in the Center. We have been so lucky to have your curious and enthusiastic personality in the Center, and we hope that you have enjoyed your time here as much as we have enjoyed having you here.
– By Katherine Scarton
Major: International Affairs and Public Policy/Pre-Med
Ever since his introduction to the Writing Center, Douglas Robins has seen the Center as “cool” — a welcoming community of student tutors tied together by their love of writing. Douglas cannot pick a specific special memory that stands out in his years as a Writing Fellow, simply because there are too many. But what Douglas has enjoyed the most was collaborating with his fellow tutors or writers, as they organized retreats and critiqued each other’s writing. Not only has Douglas enjoyed the camaraderie that comes with being a Writing Fellow, but he also strongly believes in the Writing Center’s philosophy: the purpose of the writing tutoring session is not for a student to get a good grade on an essay but for the student to grow as a writer — to think outside of the box either when brainstorming or otherwise.
Douglas prefers for the writer to come in with a blank page — after all, it holds so much more potential. And, as a Writing Fellow, Douglas strives to harness this untapped power to write and create within every student; he likes to show the person he is tutoring that (s)he can write and produce a “good,” original essay. Any Writing Fellow or tutor can agree that inspiring such “light bulb” moments in a student elicits a most rewarding feeling. However, accomplishing such a feat is no easy task; Douglas asserts that asking the “right” questions can significantly help students think about what they are writing.
When tutoring, Douglas pushes the envelope and facilitates the growth of any student that he tutors. However, Douglas understands that the Writing Center is not a place where those in need of help go for expert opinions: “The Writing Fellow is never an expert, just as much a work-in-progress as the student being tutored.” There is no expectation to know everything about writing as a Writing Fellow, and this is one of the facets of being a member of the Writing Center community that Douglas enjoys the most. Receiving feedback from his peers on his own writing reminds Douglas of the vulnerability that comes with sitting in the tutee’s seat during a writing tutoring session. Douglas has been awarded the honor of acceptance to Princeton University and is eager to find a similar community to that of the Writing Center. Even as he moves on to the world of college education, Douglas will bring his inquisitiveness and writing skills with him into the future. Then, who knows? We might find Douglas published in Arch & Arrow.
– By Alex Nelson
Major: Neuroscience Behavior
I have known Hallie Sternberg a long time – my whole life, to be exact. As cousins, we’ve attended many, many family events (we have a large family); been at each other’s B’nai Mitzvahs; and even gone to Israel together. But I’ve had the privilege of knowing her in a school context, as well – not only from her “dragging” me into a music class, but also in the Writing Center. There, I would always find Hallie eating lunch while sitting in a beanie bag, talking to her friends when I walk in for my tutoring appointments. To her, the Writing Center is a “special thing Episcopal has” and an “important resource” on campus. Hallie fell in love with that resource after a great experience in her freshman year, and, as a tutor, she especially loves tutoring creative pieces. Her love of writing is understandable, given that multiple members of our family have written and published books. And as many authors do, Hallie finds writing methods to emulate while working with other writers and tutees. She “finds it rewarding to help other people grow in writing ability and confidence,” while still being able to grow herself. This is one of the main ways she describes the Writing Center – a place of “collaboration and mutual respect and learning.” Therefore, she says, it is okay if a tutor doesn’t have a lot to say, as the goal is to “help the writer grow – not get a grade.” These wise words, along with her advocacy for the Writing Center during its move to its new location, have shown why Hallie is such a beloved Writing Fellow. And while she may be “proud that its future is stable,” we know that future could not be possible without her commitment and dedication to the Writing Center.
– By Charlie Roth
Louisiana State University Honors College
David Whitehurst first visited the Writing Center as a freshman. At the time, he was the tutee, and he found the session to be very helpful in aiding some of his writing concerns. Appreciating and understanding the effort that it takes to be a Writing Fellow, David realized his passion for helping students just like him right then and there. In addition to having an inclination to help others as others had helped him, David was recommended to apply for the Writing Center. When first joining the Writing Center community, David felt a need to make the students who made appointments with him feel truly welcome, as other Fellows had made him feel through his prior experiences. He wanted to make students feel positive about their writing, even when flawed, by consistently mentioning something positive about their work while also explaining how their writing could be improved. While I was talking to David, he spoke briefly on his favorite experience in the Writing Center when he was challenged to help a 7th-grade class – the same age his mother teaches -- with their short stories. “That was… crazy,” he said, chuckling at the memory. This memory taught David that every session in the Writing Center is different, and that every session had new insight to offer into how he could become a better Writing Fellow. David’s advice to future potential Writing Fellows is to understand the repercussions of their commitment. While Fellows have to give up their free study time on days when they have appointments, the feeling that Fellows like David get from tutoring is one of accomplishment like no other. The sacrifices of free time become insignificant in comparison to the satisfaction of helping a student enhance his or her writing.
– By Savannah York
The Episcopal Writing Center is a special place. 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.
Odgen Honors College at Louisiana State University
Major: Political Science/International Policy
Olivia Grice has always loved to write, so much so that she knew she was destined to be a Writing Fellow. She believed “writing was something I was always a little bit good at,” although her peers would tell you she was much more than a little good at it. She faced challenges in her tutoring, such as tutoring exchange students with their basic English writing, but in the end decided that experiences like these are what made her the Writing Fellow she is today. More importantly, Olivia has been a kind and empathetic Writing Fellow, who tutored writing not for herself but for the community. She loved tutoring creative writing because she “loved to read what students had invented,” and her primary reason for becoming a Writing Fellow was because she had been helping her friends with papers long before she joined the Writing Center. Olivia was “always able to tell when students were uncomfortable with sharing” and when they were self-conscious, and helped them with her empathy, seeking to understand why they might feel as they do towards writing. She was always able to “help students who were different learners adapt to traditional classroom writing.” Humble as always, Olivia talked not of how she has helped the students she tutored but of how those students have shaped her. Olivia feels that the writing she tutored improved her own writing, and that it taught her the meaning of good criticism and how to react to it. Olivia, you have been a model Writing Fellow and a positive impact on anyone who uses that space. The Writing Center is lucky to have had you as a tutor, and we will miss you.
– By Laura Kurtz
Lauren Borthwick Hoff
University of British Columbia
Always striving to “further her knowledge in English” Lauren Borthwick Hoff has been a remarkable asset to the Writing Center community. While her favorite type of writing to tutor is science writing, she also had a strong love helping guide for DBQs. Lauren explains that her passion for tutoring DBQs stems from “being able to watch the writers make connections between different documents” and her love of history. She prides herself in her “ability to provide a comfortable environment and an opportunity where kids can voice their concerns in regards to their papers," something that is always a goal for empathetic Writing Fellows. Her “balance of positive and negative feedback” creates a constructive response for writers to truly grow from.
Lauren discussed an important aspect of the Writing Center that many can vouch for, the close-knit community. She elaborates that being a Writing Fellow has allowed her to connect better to the general Episcopal community. Lauren spent much of her day in the Writing Center, whether she was tutoring, killing time before English class, or using it as “a space to eat lunch." Her engaging personality has made it effortless for students to connect with her, and Lauren even shares a time that a student described her as “a big sister she never had” and gave Lauren her email, as the two could continue to share advice. Finally, Lauren positively reflects on her time in the Writing Center and encourages others to apply as Fellows, stating, “It’s a chance to practice writing and look at other people’s writing which then helps you examine your own." Lauren, thank you for all you have accomplished in the Writing Center, from making each student feel that he or she is in a comforting environment to being such an inimitable role model for other tutors.
– By Landry Litel
Abby Johnson, National Merit Commended Scholar
Southern Methodist University
Before her junior year of high school, Abby Johnson decided to become a Writing Fellow due to her love for English. Abby had always yearned to help other people, and tutoring in the Writing Center provided a perfect opportunity to fulfill her interests. Unlike many students, Abby loves writing literary analyses but does not have a major interest in creative writing. Having taken social studies AP courses in her high school years, Abby loves dealing with document-based questions and continues to enjoy tutoring students for DBQs. In her years as a Writing Fellow, Abby has recognized her strength of being empathetic to others. Many students who come for help in the Writing Center are vulnerable and afraid of showing their work to the tutors, and Abby has done a great job trying to understand and make the writers feel comfortable.
During the breaks, Abby would often spend time in the Writing Center, especially relaxing on the couch after tiring classes. The calm, serene ambiance in the Writing Center comforted her. While Abby had many activities to manage during her junior and senior years of high school, she loved getting to know students, especially when she recognized them after the sessions. Through these tutoring sessions, she formed a connection with the students in various aspects: as a friend, a tutor, and a listener. She was also curious to know what students in other classes are learning and how the courses have changed over time. As an experienced tutor, Abby’s advice to new Writing Fellows is to stay enthusiastic while helping students and think about the benefits of the experience as a tutor as well as a writer. While some students might not pursue writing as a career, they are bound to gain invaluable skills from their experiences in the Writing Center.
– By Arohi Gopal
Mason LaFerney, National Merit Finalist
Community is the word Mason LaFerney uses to describe the Writing Center. More than his passion for writing or his desire to help others, being a part of the community of tutors has been the most rewarding aspect of his past two years as a Writing Fellow. His most important piece of advice for new Writing Fellows is to be confident, because of the credibility your teachers saw in your work to recommend you for the position. Although working with students your same age may be strange at first, Mason says to trust your knowledge and to always be approachable. Mason says he can see growth in his own writing during his time in the Writing Center, because of how fast he can come up with things to say about someone else’s writing. Just as he’s done in tutoring sessions, having to respond to hard questions quickly is a characteristic that will serve him well in the future. As well as being an approachable person, Mason says one of his strengths he’s been able to discover about himself from his interactions at the Writing Center is his ability to get straight to the point. He says he can deliver a message of what the student needs to revise in a way that makes it clear to the student without making him come across as arrogant. In terms of types of writing he has helped, Mason will miss helping the freshman with their literary analyses, because of how raw and refreshing they are to read. Mason has loved his time at the Writing Center but says the community of people who make up such a place have had the biggest impact on his life.
– By Mollie Hyde
Alyssa Macaluso, National Merit Finalist
Well-rounded, charismatic, intelligent, and kind are all words to describe Alyssa Macaluso. Alyssa always had a passion to become a Writing Fellow. She wanted to be a resource for people seeking help with the art of writing. This perfectly shows Alyssa’s general desire to help students and make anyone feel welcomed. In the Writing Center, Alyssa can be found helping a student with a personal narrative, conversing with peers, or offering to help out a struggling underclassman. Outside of the Writing Center, you can find Alyssa participating in an impressive array of clubs and extracurriculars or getting to know a student she has met for the first time. With Alyssa’s inquisitive personality, she can take on any project that is handed to her. She is admired and looked up to by not only other Writing Fellows but by the school body. Her experiences in the Writing Center have made her realize she loves to “hear other people’s stories and get to know a new side of a person.” Alyssa’s spectacular writing knowledge and grammar expertise make her a unique and desired tutor. She has the ability to ease an anxious writer and to help students understand their problems. Alyssa, we appreciate your contributions to the Writing Center, your dedication and charm have made the Writing Center a remarkable resource for all students. You are one of the reasons why the Writing Center is a safe and comfortable place for all. As you say, “The Writing Center is a way to give back to the community. It is a dedication and a contribution to Episcopal.” We have all benefitted from you in the most positive ways, and I cannot thank you enough for your contribution to the Writing Center.
– By Julia Frazer
Louisiana State University
The first Writing Center appointment this school year, in the new Writing Center space, was taken by Kylie Madere with full confidence and charisma. I happened to be sitting in the room, gaining insight on Kylie’s strategies for tutoring younger students. Her bright smile and bubbly personality can make anyone feel comfortable in the Writing Center because she “know[s] it can be such an intimidating place and can feel vulnerable as you have to share your writing that is so personal to you.” For me, new to the Writing Center, watching her tutor students encouraged me to be like her, inviting and motivated to “spark inspiration.” Kylie advised me and other fellows to have “communication, confidence, and encouragement” when working with students. Her reasons for becoming a Writing Fellow include the “sense of community” of the Writing Center and her desire to “meet new people.” Kylie always brings a sense of joy to the workplace. Because of the twinkling lights above, Kylie, always with a cup of Starbucks in her hand, finds the atmosphere in the Writing Center “chill” and “a productive place to work.” Whether she is helping freshmen with their literacy narrative or just “chilling” in the space, her experience in the Writing Center has benefited her “communication skills and confidence as a writer.” Kylie, your contributions to the Writing Center exceed what you have benefited from it. Your passion for writing creates a friendly space for all who come and go through the Writing Center. Your impacts are long-lasting and will be remembered by our community.
– By Halle Roman
Taner Morgan, National Merit Commended Scholar
Louisiana State University Honors College
Major: Mass Communications Journalism
A friendly disposition is just as important as writing skills when being a writing tutor. And Taner Morgan has them both. His smiley, kind persona immediately alleviates any anxiety about talking to him, as he is talented at establishing a comfortable conversation. He even considers his way with words to be one of his strongest assets as a Writing Fellow, remarking that “even if there’s a glaring problem with a paper, I can say it in a sweet way.” In a job where one must inspire confidence in others, appearing kind and nonjudgmental is essential.
However, Taner wasn’t always so vulnerable and conversational. He admits that “I used to be very defensive about [my writing],” and thanks the Writing Center for allowing him to become more comfortable with his work. He also credits the Writing Center with helping him improve his own writing through tutoring others. He tries to take something from each session, benefitting not just the student but also himself. He enjoys seeing the different prompts that each student comes in with and what they decide to do with an assignment. “I like when I can see someone else’s creativity flow,” he elaborates.
Taner’s desire to help others is what makes him so remarkable. While there are many other benefits to being a Writing Fellow—service credit, extracurricular activities for one’s resume, or experience for future professions—it is crucial to remember the fundamental principle of the Writing Center: for peers to benefit each other in writing. As Taner says, “[From every session], you can learn something in both helping the next person and in benefitting your own writing… if you look for it.”
– By Andrea Norwood