“I have dreamed of running at LSU and the fact that it is actually happening is crazy to me.” Callie Hardy, Class of 2021
Cross country champ Callie Hardy officially signed with the Tigers this week. As the pen moved across the page, it was the culmination of years of hard work and a commitment to a dream. “I came to Episcopal because I knew I wanted to run at the next level, and it is so cool to see it all finally come together,” says Callie. “I was blessed with the best coaches and teammates and I could not have done this without them. Being a part of the LSU track and cross country team has been a dream of mine for years.”
Callie first laced up her sneakers as a track athlete in seventh grade. A year later, she added cross country. Callie joined the Knights her junior year and has made tremendous contributions to the program since. During her senior year she was part of a team that broke cross country course records. She also earned the 2020 Individual LHSAA Cross Country State Champion title and was named a 2020 All Metro Cross Country First Team member.
Choosing LSU was an easy decision for Callie. “LSU was the right school for me because it is close to home and it has amazing academic programs in addition to its great running program,” she says. “Coach Franks has done an awesome job building up the distance program and I am so grateful to be able to say that I will be a part of it.” In addition to being a part of the team, Callie plans to study kinesiology.
Earning the opportunity to continue doing something you love on the collegiate level is a tremendous honor for any student athlete. Callie offers the following advice to those with a similar goal. “Always work as hard as you can and never give up on your dreams,” she says. “If you believe that you can do it, you’re already halfway there. Trust your coaches, they want what’s best for you. And always keep God first.” That is truly sound advice for anyone to adopt as they reach for their dreams.
Congratulations on taking this next step, Callie! The Episcopal community can’t wait to see you in purple and gold.
Read more about other graduating Episcopal athletes moving on to compete at the next level by clicking the names below:
Our winter sports season started fast and furious this year! Call it the delayed start of fall sports, the overlapping of fall and winter sports, or just the “other circumstances” surrounding all of us this year. No matter the circumstances, our Knights jumped right into the competitions!
As our winter sports teams get into state playoffs and championship meets, I am thankful for our student-athletes and coaches who always persevere at being their best possible selves, representing our teams and our school. While competing and winning is important to us here, watching these student-athletes develop into respectful young men and women is the thing that keeps our coaches and me fired up for more!
The winter sports season has provided Knights fans much to celebrate. Catch up on the latest sports news.
The girls soccer season has been one to remember. The squad fought hard to tie Parkview, a Division 3 team ranked number four. They also celebrated a successful Senior Knight with a win over rival Dunham 2 – 1 that also locked up the district championship title. The girls have a record of 10-4-3 with big wins against Ascension Episcopal and Pope John Paul. No doubt, it’s been a great year for seniors Landry Litel, Muskaan Mahes, Zoe Marceaux, Grace Moraes, Brooke Sandefur, Katherine Scarton and Allie Weinstein. Looking forward, Head Coach Lynn Bradley says. “it’s anyone’s game in the playoffs.”
The boys soccer team entered the playoffs seeded number six with a record of 12-6-4. That record includes big wins versus East Ascension, Baton Rouge High and Alexandria. Head Coach Kiran Booluck points out that the Knights earned a fourth consecutive district championship title in a season that saw them score 28 goals in four district games. The Knights won’t soon forget the Destrehan game where the team was down two goals and fought back to score two last minute goals to tie the game 2-2. This year’s team is led by seniors Cade Capron, Jack Safer, Ethan Webb and Josh Wilson.
Playing basketball during a pandemic can be challenging, but the Knights are battling through the obstacles to put together a successful season. Head Coach Chris Beckman says one of the highlights of the season is “just being able to play with COVID.” Episcopal is currently ranked 4th in the power rankings with a record of 14 and 7. The team has already earned impressive wins against Opelousas Catholic, St Joseph’s (MS), Parkview Baptist and Denham Springs. This year’s team is led by seniors Thomas Abadie, Jude Forti and Ben Stafford.
Saturday, February 6th at 10 am
Freshman team competes in the St. Thomas More Tournament
Monday, February 8th at 6 pm at home versus Family Christian Academy
Wednesday, February 10th at 5:30 pm at home versus St. John
The girls basketball team earned the 8-2A district championship title! The team hosted the district tournament as the number two ranked team in Division III. Head Coach Taylor Mims Wharton ’09 says the team hopes to make a deep playoff run into late February/early March. With big wins already against Parkview, Dominican, Scotlandville, Dunham, Denham Springs, Port Allen and Central, those playoff hopes are solid. The win against Dominican was the first victory for the Knights against the team in four years. Another season highlight was defeating 5A Scotlandville at Scotlandville. The Knights also bested Dunham at home and capped off Senior Knight with a victory against Baker. The Knights are led by seniors Annslee Bourgeois and Jewel Jones.
In addition to the upcoming tournament, the Knights will be in action on the following dates:
Tuesday, February 9th at 6 pm at home versus Madison Prep
Thursday, February 11th at 6 pm at home versus Family Christian Academy
The girls indoor track team opened the indoor season at the LSU Qualifier on January 30th. The team this year is led by seniors Callie Hardy (an LSU signee), Bethany Reid and Tanya Mencer. The team qualified very well for the upcoming state indoor meet. Athletes finishing in the top three at the meet were as follows : 2nd place 4 x 800 Relay team of Margaret Harrell, Bethany Reid, Ivy Jiang and Mia Pulliam. 1600 Meter Run Champion Callie Hardy. The team will be back in action again this week at the LSU Last Chance Meet.
Indoor track season is off and running. The Knights participated in one meet thus far with all competing Knights qualifying for the state indoor meet on Saturday, February 20th. Head Coach Claney Duplechin says the main competition at the state meet this year is St. Louis High School out of Lake Charles.
Episcopal is led by a talented group of seniors who are ready for the challenge including Tucker Harrell, Ethan Hook, Oliver Jack, Evan Jurkovic, Dylan Mehrotra, Ben Naquin, Payton Pontiff, Tristen Rigby, Jack Safer, Allen Stewart, Austin Sybrandt and Grant Treadaway.
Congratulations to Oliver Jack who has already earned a spot on the podium. Oliver finished second overall in the shot put.
This year, Episcopal is represented in powerlifting by 24 student athletes from every grade in Upper School. The Knights have a strong contingent of seniors including Thomas Audit, Matthew Bickham, Allison Binning, Nils Dernoncourt, Bronwyn Guy, William Griffey, Mollie Hyde, Oliver Jack, Dillon Kong, Addi LeBouef, Evan Meek, Alex Nelson, JC Neumann, Mary Jane Parker, Allen Stewart, Emma Schlotterer, Lily Wester and Anna Katherine Whaley.
The girls powerlifting team had a tremendous showing at the St. Amant Invitational. Results are below:
Allison Binning – 1st
Emma Schlotterer – 2nd
Bronwyn Guy – 2nd
Anna Katherine Whaley – 2nd
Lily Wester – 3rd
Claire Kiesel – 4th
The powerlifters are preparing for the following competitions:
Saturday, February 13th: The boys will have a dual meet vs Catholic High at Catholic.
Friday, February 26th – Saturday, February 27th: The team is preparing for the regional meet at Denham Springs High School.
Head coach Charlie O’Brien ’13 says the Knights are hoping for a chance to wrestle in the upcoming state tournament on February 26th and 27th in Baton Rouge. While the season has been unconventional due to COVID-19 protocols, the athletes are looking forward to competing. This year’s team is led by seniors Wes Coleman, who got a pin during the Brusly District 3 tournament, and William Guffey.
Please join us in congratulating members of the Class of 2021 as they announce their college enrollment decisions.
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.
Join us in congratulating seven members of the Class of 2021 for being selected as candidates for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s website, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program began in 1964 to recognize and honor some of the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors. The program’s mission is “to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.”
Episcopal College Counseling Director Justin Fenske says approximately 80 seniors were selected from the state of Louisiana as part of this year’s scholars program, including seven from Episcopal. Ultimately, one male and one female student will represent the state this summer at an event with the president.
“We are excited by the continued success of our students in receiving recognition to the Presidential Scholars Program,” says Fenske. “Very few students in the state are recognized annually and we are thrilled to have so many named this year.”
With a focus on rigorous academics and a well-rounded educational experience, Episcopal has celebrated numerous Presidential Scholar candidates and winners over the years. Most recently, 2019 graduate Douglas Robins was named the male scholar representing Louisiana. Robins, who is now studying at Princeton University, credits Episcopal with preparing him for future success. As a Presidential Scholar, Robins had the opportunity to recommend a U.S. Presidential Scholars Program Distinguished Teacher. He chose Upper School Thesis Co-Director/Writing Center Director Katie Sutcliffe for her impact on his life.
In addition to being named Presidential Scholars candidates, the seven 2021 Episcopal students are all National Merit Semifinalists or Commended Scholars. We can’t wait to see what they accomplish next!
Share a comment of congratulations with the seven Episcopal Presidential Scholars candidates in the comments section below.
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
The QUEST Center in Foster Hall was buzzing with excitement this week as students worked on a range of projects ideal for this creative space.
Like a scene from “Project Runway,” sixth and seventh graders made clothing in the Middle School Design Studio. While the stitching, knitting, taping and bedazzling may seem like something out of an art class, it was actually a vocabulary assignment for Spanish class. As students created everything from shoes and scarves to shirts and face coverings, they learned the Spanish words for each piece.
While the lesson was fun and engaging, there was much more taking place than students realized. Spanish teacher Jennifer Snyder, who loves to sew when she’s not teaching, says the experience helps students learn about the challenges involved with making clothing and the time and effort required. Students also learned about ethics in fashion and which cultures traditionally create their own clothing.
Next week, Middle School students will host a fashion show for Lower School students in the Great Hall. Each group of older students will have a model who will present the clothing and a moderator who will share the Spanish terms with the audience. It’s sure to be a runway to remember!
Once upon a time in the Early Elementary Design Studio, Episcopal first graders learned about story elements, including characters, settings, problems and solutions. As part of the current project-based learning unit titled “Enchanted Engineering,” students were given the names of popular characters and story settings and asked to create their own tales. Students stood before their classmates and told stories of what happens when the Big Bad Wolf meets Cruella de Vil or what it’s like when Little Red Riding Hood travels to the Land of Oz.
Afterward, the young storytellers used Legos to build a scene inspired by their stories. Soon, they will build larger scenes and even use programmable robots to move the “good guy” and the “bad guy” through the setting. “Enchanted Engineering” is always popular among Lower School students. This year’s QUEST Center setting is taking the enchantment to new heights.
Sixth graders tested their engineering and budget management skills in the annual earthquake design challenge. Students had to design a structure to withstand the shaking and quaking of tectonic forces. They also had to manage their materials budget and “purchase” supplies from science teacher Stacy Hill. Before the first straws were ever taped together, students spent considerable time planning, researching and developing their ideas. Once the structures are complete, students will test their creations on a shake table. We can’t wait to see the completed project!
On a 70-degree Louisiana winter day, Episcopal second graders imagined what life is like at the frigid north and south poles. Students learned about what animals need to thrive in these climates, including blubber. Students participated in a hands-on experience in Kitchen Chemistry, aka the “Blubber Lab,” to really get a feel for it.
QUEST Center Coordinator Dr. Elizabeth Lewis presented students with bowls of icy water to simulate what creatures in these regions experience. Students dunked their hands in the water and timed how long they could withstand the chill. Surprisingly, a few of the students were able to keep their hands in the water for 69 seconds. Afterward, Dr. Lewis gave students a “blubber glove” made from layers of plastic bags filled with Crisco and an empty bag to protect little hands from the greasy substance. Students placed their hands inside the glove and again plunged them into the ice water. They were excited to report their findings. “I could do this all day long!” “It wasn’t cold at all!” The experience is sure to make a lasting impression on these little Knights.
The QUEST Center in Foster Hall is the perfect space for new learning experiences and a great place to reimagine tried-and-true favorites. To learn more, click here.
Since I came to Episcopal in middle school, I have had more and more writing assignments year after year. And for the most part, I — surely like many other students — did not really see how what I wrote for a grade could extend beyond use in a classroom setting. As much as I enjoy writing and delight in the process of creating something new, it just wasn’t as rewarding for my writing to be read only by a limited audience: one or two of my teachers or my parents at the most. But what if there was a way to put that student writing out there? What if the writing that students might think to be no more than school work could go beyond the walls of the classroom?
At first, I was surprised that no one had taken up the reins after the two seniors in charge of it prior to me graduated. Students wouldn’t even need to work to get published; they just needed to submit original pictures or written work (and of course be accepting of minimal editing). I quickly realized that I had underestimated the effort that had gone into previous issues once I was suddenly in the position of chief editor of the magazine.
There was (and still is) no guidebook for how one keeps a publication afloat — or, in this case, how one brings a publication back to life. No one warned me of how difficult it was to wrench written submissions from the student body, nor of the steepness of the learning curve for the Adobe suite.
In my effort to reignite interest in the publication, I garnered the help of a few friends to remake this magazine. One friend promoted the magazine’s publication, another designed the graphics, and I solicited and screened submissions, and communicated with student contributors. Although this tremendous effort has currently one hard-copy issue, I am still hopeful that my contribution to its creation is enough to spark something new.
We hope you enjoy the current edition and invite students and faculty to submit their work for the 2021 issue! We accept fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, photography, and artwork. Send your work to email@example.com!
Check out the latest issue by clicking here.
Alex is currently a senior at Episcopal. She has been a Writing Fellow and Math Tutor since she was a sophomore and recently helped design a website for the Writing Center. Alex is currently in the Thesis Program. Alex enjoys writing and its promotion and is currently editor-in-chief of the fledgling student publication at Episcopal, Troubadour. She is also the Quiz Bowl club president and a member of the Episcopal powerlifting team.
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.