ESTAAR, Scholarships and Sports
How Episcopal’s Academic Changes Came Together for Connor Pellerin (’17) and Scott Wicker, Jr. (’18) —Athletes and Scholars
Connor Pellerin – Coastal Habitat, Baseball and Football
Connor Pellerin (’17) joined Episcopal in the 9th grade. Immediately, he became part of the 80% of Upper School (and Middle School) students who compete in team sports. He applied himself academically, demonstrating an interest in science. As a junior, Connor began participating in our ESTAAR program which, in a nutshell, places students in university labs run by research scientists to work on specific projects—for Episcopal course credit. Connor’s work involved Louisiana coastal habitat issues. Connor was recognized by high school science fairs and with his research work being published in a journal article along with the work of The Water Institute of the Gulf scientists. All along at Episcopal, Connor developed as a strong multi-sport athlete, eventually earning postseason accolades, multi-year varsity letters, and being named by his teammates as a Team Captain to both our varsity football and baseball programs. In short, Connor led a busy, positive student-athlete life at Episcopal.
When it came time for college admissions, Connor’s record of hard work and good grades combined with his unique ESTAAR experience and his baseball accomplishments served him very well. In the normal college admissions time, he was admitted to colleges of his choice to continue his scientific studies. Then, late in his senior year, he found himself in a rare situation. His baseball pitching had matured and, with a senior year record of 9-3, an ERA of under 1, and 108 strikeouts, he had drawn the attention of college baseball scouts, including Tulane University. Connor accepted Tulane University’s attractive scholar-athlete package and is now finishing his freshman year at Tulane. In his young collegiate athletic career, Connor has already made 17 appearances for the Green Wave, including 2 wins and a save. Needless to say, Connor has worked hard and done well academically and in baseball at Tulane.
Scott Wicker, Jr. – Non-Traditional Heating Methods for Petrochemical Manufacturing, Football, Baseball and Powerlifting
Scott Wicker, Jr. (’18) also applied himself academically, demonstrating an interest in science and participated in ESTAAR. He qualified to present his university-level research in May 2018 at the 56th National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. Scott will be one of the 230 high school students who qualified to make a presentation by submitting and presenting original scientific research papers in regional symposia held at universities nationwide. He qualified for the national competition at the Louisiana regional event that was held at LSU in January. Scott also won 1st place in his category at Region VII Science Fair and 3rd place in his category at State Science Fair. Scott played football and baseball and did powerlifting. He placed 2nd Team All District in Football and placed 6th in State Powerlifting.
Next year Scott intends to study science and do more scientific research at Rhodes College (Memphis, TN). At Rhodes, a NCAA Division III College, he will be back on the football field as a "Lynx."
Louisiana and its ports, industries and agriculture are deeply involved in global commerce and global affairs. Episcopal’s students can engage in global studies through a range of curricular and co-curricular undertakings.
Two experiences of Ms. Alex Nelson, a freshman, point toward how Episcopal students engage in global issues. The Selection Committee for the National Spanish Exam Global Citizen Scholarships recently awarded Alex a scholarship to attend a two-week Spanish immersion program through the Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota this summer. This semester she also won second place in the senior individual website at the State National History Day Competition at the WWII Museum in New Orleans. Her website project, Weaponized Disinformation: Compromised Truth in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, compared pro- and anti-communist propaganda during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Her achievement qualifies her to compete at the National History Day Competition at the University of Maryland, College Park in June.
In the 18-19 school year, the World Language and Social Studies departments will operate as a single department labeled Global and Social Studies Department. I look forward to the proliferation of “global studies” courses and activities to be made possible by this combination.
Strong, Sinewy, Sweaty, Synergistic Scholarship
Around 80% of Episcopal’s Upper School students compete in a full range of 17 sports under the aegis of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. Let’s look through the lens of the Swim Team to get a feel for how academics and sports naturally intertwine at Episcopal.
These few facts about our brand of "strong" academics reviewd through the highly competitive swim team speak volumes about how students have highly personalized opportunities to learn and be coached at Episcopal.
In the next four graduating classes --- 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 --- 38% of all students rank in the top 10% of all students testing nationally.
Standardized testing begins at Third Grade at Episcopal with the age-appropriate test labelled ACT Aspire. At Sixth through Eighth Grade, Episcopal employs the ACT Explore, ACT Plan and ACT series tests, depending on the student level. Comparing our students’ scores to national norms is one way we gauge how Episcopal is doing relative to students across the country.
One could look at it this way: Episcopal has more than a third of each class scoring in the top 10% nationwide.
Over the last few years, we have worked hard to retain great teachers, attract great teachers, train the integrated faculty, and make curricular advances to draw out the potential of such a bright and motivated student body. It seems to me that a core of bright and motivated students has attracted even more bright and motivated students to participate in the renewed educational community at Episcopal.
Emily Knight (Class of 2018) earned the highest possible composite score of 36 on the nationwide ACT test given in September 2017.
The ACT is one of the two tests relied upon most consistently to evaluate college readiness. Of the 2,030,000 or so who took the ACT in September, only 2,760 made scores like Emily’s---in the top 1/10th of top 1% range.
Emily is representative of how true scholarship manifests at Episcopal these days. Her high GPA and high ranking on national testing do not define her. She was recognized as a National Merit Semifinalist before moving up to National Merit Finalist status (more to come on that in the next Academic Point.) Most recently, she was Evangeline, one of the leads in Episcopal’s spring musical---Evangeline, The Musical. Her poetry has been recognized in the national Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Contest. She is active in Episcopal’s choral programs. She has been offered college admission to an enviable array of colleges across the country.
At Episcopal, with our relatively small school “2A” classification, scholars are active outside the classroom, developing a range of God’s gifts to them in a close community. A dedicated faculty engaged deeply with student development is an Episcopal hallmark these days. This is what our Mission & Ministry calls us to do!
Hugh M. McIntosh
Head of School
This year, 13% of Episcopal’s senior class-- 12 students—received recognition by the National Merit Corporation based on their achievements on the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test/PSAT, taken in their junior year.
Year in and year out, only a handful of high schools in Baton Rouge have students recognized by the National Merit Corporation. Episcopal can claim a long tradition of producing National Merit scholars, going back decades. We believe the 13% of this year’s senior class distinguishes Episcopal among the small group of Baton Rouge high schools with any students recognized.
The NMSQT/PSAT scores are used in the admissions and scholarship granting processes by a broad range of colleges across the country, including the nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher education.
The 12 recognized students fall into two categories:
National Merit Finalists:
In addition, I would like to recognize from the Junior class, Austin Reynolds and William Lynch, as National Hispanic Scholars.
Of the nearly 2,000,000 high school students who took the test, only approximately 16,000 qualify as Semifinalists --- 0.8%. Fewer are selected as Finalists. Eight Episcopal students in the Class of 2018 were in the top 0.8% of NMSQT/PSAT scorers in the nation.
When friends ask me how to choose a high school for a bright and motivated student, I recommend they look exclusively at schools with a consistent record of producing National Merit Semifinalists. That is the surest proof, in my view, of the presence or availability of a first-class high school education at a school. Episcopal offers such a first-class high school education---one that is nationally competitive.
The Les Miserables production a few weeks ago brought pleasure and joy to packed houses over its four-night run. For the last few weeks, those of us on campus have been humming the inspiring and memorable music. Before we have to trade in those tunes for the examination schedule, I wanted to share a few thoughts.
The Episcopal production of Les Miserables is a grand illustration of what students learn from striving for excellence, particularly the striving that occurs in a group working on a project. In short, students involved in projects such as Les Mis learn through personal experience what it takes for a group to do something with excellence and the demands excellence makes through fine tuning of their individual contributions. They absorb how people who love their work --Ms. Gagliano and Mr. Smith, for example—create an environment for excellence. Students become a part of a small group that becomes excellent. When they are faced, just a little further down the road, with opportunities to lead daunting and meaningful projects themselves, their memories of the “Les Mis miracle” at Episcopal in 2016 will instruct and guide them.
Students bore witness to the humble beginnings of the production. They held themselves back at the start, but were coached to the realization that they could trust themselves, their colleagues, and their directors. They gained an understanding of how leaders provide a framework for openness to the initiatives of all participants. They felt the pressure of being in the right place at the right time and delivered their lines and songs that grew toward perfection in performance. They strived with their colleagues and gave their best toward the communal effort. They saw how it all came together and resulted in standing ovations.
Perhaps the life lesson that excellence, success, and achievement do not come without focused effort is the ultimate, durable and lasting take away from projects like Les Mis. Alongside the physical act of doing are equally important lessons in emotional maturity that only come from the cycle of trying, failing, correcting, improving, and polishing under the empathetic and loving guidance of mentors with relevant experience who care for them deeply.
Episcopal students apply what they have learned in projects supervised and guided by well-qualified faculty. They leave here knowing the hard work that goes into a life of high standards. They pick up on the “know-how” from directors like Ms. Paige Gagliano, who set the stage for excellence and transmit, by example, leadership toward the high altitudes where real excellence can be found.
At Episcopal, the official mix includes spirituality, academics, arts, and physical education---the four points of our Mission & Ministry---and we model striving toward excellence in every area. We give our students opportunities to bring everything they have to the stage, field, court, competition or table. When the final curtain came down on Les Mis that Saturday night, the actors, musicians and directors left nothing on the stage; we all know that’s what excellence demands in life.
From the audience, I enjoyed the lovely performances and, more importantly, saw a cast and supporting crew learn that they can be excellent, that they can have a direct role in making something great. That knowledge is now firmly seated in their minds, instilling a hunger for more. The next time, whether tomorrow or a decade from now, when one of the cast is challenged to do something complex and meaningful, they will draw strength from the excellence experienced in the unforgettable 2016 production of Les Miserables.
Hugh M. McIntosh
Head of School
Leaving a legacy means leaving behind something that people will remember you by: Were you a great performer? A brilliant intellectual? An inspiring coach? A loyal volunteer?
A new survey conducted by Ancestry.com reveals that half of Americans know the name of only one or none of their great-grandparents. And twenty-two percent of Americans do not know what either of their grandfathers do or did for a living.
With the holidays just around the corner, there is no better time to begin learning about family roots and creating lasting memories, especially as families gather together in celebration. As we commemorate our first fifty years, it is our responsibility to set the foundation for continued excellence.
I invite you to join me and others in leaving a legacy at Episcopal by joining the Good Shepherds of Episcopal Legacy Society. We honor those who have made a commitment to the future of our school through planned gifts – whether a simple bequest (gifts from your will), life insurance, trusts or gifts of stock or real estate.
Planned gifts help to fund the endowment, allowing us to enhance our ability to plan for the future, invest in students, and contribute to our financial stability. By designating a percentage or dollar amount of your will or estate to Episcopal, anyone can leave a significant gift and be amongst the Good Shepherds.
Also, please visit our newly launched Legacy site at http://ehsbr.giftlegacy.com/ There you can read about why families in our community have chosen to make a planned gift to Episcopal. You can also find detailed information about ways to make a gift and tax benefits for designating Episcopal as a beneficiary.
Hugh M. McIntosh
Head of School and member of the Good Shepherds of Episcopal Legacy Society
“And what about you?” Pope Francis adopted this question from Pope Leo XIII to a woman who became known as Saint Katherine Drexel. The question was the central theme of the Pope’s homily on Saturday, September 26, 2015, in Philadelphia (coincidentally a word that means love among people), which he delivered in Spanish.
In the beginning, he focused on the importance of providing to young people the tools and inspiration they need to live meaningfully in response to religious teachings. His first question was "What are you doing to help young people understand the beauty of a religiously inspired life?" The question was poignant for me.
I immediately thought of our school community. “¿Y tu?”—“Si.”
I thought of as many individuals as I could catalog who have worked at the school as groundskeepers, faculty, cookers, cleaners, coaches, contractors, guards, staff and administrators. “¿Y tu?” “Si”
I brought up visions of the range of volunteers --- parents and other friends of the school --- serving lunch to the students, arranging enjoyable events for every class and sport, making the E-Fund successful, maintaining the high standards of the Parents’ Guild endeavors, speaking to classes, helping with clubs, and much more. “¿Y tu?” “Si”.
I thought of the complex role of parents in creating the typical morning scene on campus with parents dropping off students, making it possible (financially and otherwise) for children to be part of the school and to be exposed to the academic-arts-physical-spiritual facets of our mission. “¿Y tu?” “Si.”
All of this reflection made me feel quite positive about our work together at the school. For a little while, I moved on into the day being able to answer “Yes” to the Pope’s challenging question. It did not take long, though, for the Holy Spirit to show up, pointing toward latent opportunities and warning against hubris. I realized I had enjoyed answering his question by looking at the past. The question is about the future.
I will be asking myself “¿Y tu?” on a regular basis for a while. Join me in that, please. Who knows, practicing here on earth on that answer may prove worthwhile a little further down the trail.
I invite you to release your time, talent and treasure into wild support of the school that is answering the call every day to guide students toward purposeful lives informed by morality and ethics derived from faith.
Today, I read with great sadness the news reports arising from a situation at a highly-regarded boarding school for high school students in the Northeast. It seems that allegations of sexual assault by a freshman female student against a senior male student have led to revelations about the existence of a student and school culture that tolerates and encourages sexual adventurism and scoring of encounters. A court trial is about to begin; I expect other articles to follow.
Several administrators and I have had conversations throughout the day today on this subject. We have recalled and discussed the steps taken here at the Episcopal School of Baton Rouge—just in the last two years--to work toward healthy relationships between our male and female students. Some of those steps include:
In our conversations today, the partnership between Episcopal and parents of Episcopal students that exists naturally in our day school has been identified as a great asset. Sexual assault is like a few other major plagues on our society which defy absolute guarantees that they cannot happen “here.” We all know that adults through the ages have not found a way – absolutely – to stop a segment of adolescents from engaging in unhealthy risk taking and illegal behavior. We are committed --- and after today’s conversations recommitting --- to striving toward an even healthier community where sexual assault and related harmful activities, along with the attitudes that underlie them, are clearly neither encouraged nor tolerated.
The Upper and Middle School Division Heads, Counselors, Dean of Students, and I will be in touch in the first half of this semester to let this community know what additional steps are being taken in this Episcopal community to keep us strong and healthy.
Head of School