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What if students could apply what they're learning in the classroom to something in the real world? Third graders are doing just that! In this study, students are using their math and map reading skills to calculate the space of their future fourth-grade classrooms.

Using blueprints of the new building, students are figuring out the square feet of the new rooms. This involves calculating and converting the scale of the blueprints to the actual dimensions. Students will later use this skill to figure the square feet of their current room. They will also consider the FFE, furniture, fixtures, and equipment, of the new Lower School.

"Students will think not just about the desks and chairs that they will need, but also consider how their choices could impact others," said Lab Coordinator Mike Cogliandro. "Should the Pre-K chairs and desks be the same size as fourth grade? Why or why not?"

After a successful introduction in 2017-18, the What if Lab opened full time this year. Cogliandro partners with all Lower School students and teachers and meets with each of the elementary class at least twice a month, depending on the unit of study.

Some examples of previous projects:

  • Second-grade students created working compasses out of cork, sewing needles, and magnets during their study of explorers.
  • Fourth graders made working, pumping hearts out of plastic bottles, straws, and balloons during their study of the heart.
  • Students learned basic robotic programming using Dash robots with a block-based programming app on an iPad.

Students also enjoy the opportunity to create using the 3D printer and, coming soon (with the help of Mr. Cogliandro!), the laser cutter.

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Earlier this month, ESD film and acting students and their advisers, Lauren Redmond '01 and Bobby Weiss, attended the All American High School Film Festival in New York. Film students Grace Boyd '19, Josh Chabria '21, Sam Curtis '21, Sabrina Gies '20, and Preston Moderi '21 and acting students Alexandra Everbach '19, William Hargrave '19, and Gracie Thomas '20 presented their collaborative film, "The Art of the Perfect Brew," a dark comedy about brewing tea. Given a prompt by the Film Festival guidelines in September, these students planned their shoot over the past month but only had a 72-hour timeframe to complete the film - all actual shooting, editing, and finishing touches were completed within that short window while in New York.

The All-American High School Film Festival is the premier destination for talented high school filmmakers and media arts enthusiasts from around the world. Their mission is to provide immersive education with a profound impact, connecting the filmmakers of the future with the rewards, respect, and recognition they deserve. To learn more about AAHSFF, visit their website here.

This is the third year that ESD's film program has been invited to participate in the All American High School Film Festival. Because the time is limited, students often split into several groups to film and edit. This year, the group took three actors from the theater department to better accomplish the quick turnaround for the film. "It is a fun and exciting opportunity, although it can be stressful at times," Bobby Weiss, Film and Fine Arts teacher, said. "It is always great to see a group of students working hard on this collaborative effort to create an amazing product."

At the conclusion of the festival, "The Art of the Perfect Brew" was streamed at the AMC Theater in Times Square. The film will also be screened in Dallas at the ESD Film Festival on January 18, 2019. Congratulations to these Eagles on their hard work and dedication!

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This week, students celebrated Día de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Día de los Muertos is a holiday that celebrates and remembers loved ones who have passed away. This holiday is celebrated November 1-2 and marks the one time a year that loved ones can cross over to the land of the living. Families create ofrendas, or altars, containing pictures, food offerings, and flowers (usually marigolds) to remember their loved ones.

Students across divisions celebrated the holiday by creating their own ofrendas throughout the school. Middle School students created an ofrenda in remembrance of notable Latino figures as part of a lesson on Spanish history. Seventh-grade Spanish, Sculpture, 2D Art, and Theatre classes worked hard on a collaboration of Mexican ghost stories presented in the Black Box theater. These students were joined by friends from the West Dallas Senior Center.

Upper School Spanish also created an ofrenda and decorated with traditional calaveras (sugar skulls), food offerings, and pictures. Students read articles, watched videos, and discussed the celebration in classes.

Lower School friends learned about the holiday in several different classes. Students were visited by a Mariachi band, sampled some Pan de Muerto (bread of the dead), created their own calaveras in art, and learned some of the history behind the holiday.

ESD is proud to create an environment where students can explore other cultures through real-world learning experiences and activities. See more of our celebration here.

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Early last month, ESD's Associate Head of School Ruth Burke answered a question many have been wondering about: “What is that circle in the foundation of the new Lower School?” Although there have been many questions throughout the construction process, she told us this question has been the most persistent. Ruth also mentioned the design behind such a structure comes from one of ESD’s own Upper School faculty: Visual Arts Sculpture and Design teacher Dane Larsen.

This unique tree is designed to “anchor the early childhood neighborhood,” Ruth said. “The tree will not only provide quiet spaces for learning and conversation, but also active possibilities for young children to strengthen their gross motor skills as they play, climb, and explore.”

The idea for a tree sculpture originally came from the architects involved in building the Lower School. Early drafts featured more abstract versions of the tree, with formal benches as places to sit and unstructured “branches” as decoration. After looking at the designs, however, Dane Larsen realized that a real tree provided the perfect structure in its natural form: branches for hanging and developing core strength, low branches and roots for clambering and sitting, and even hollows for crawling.

“One of the great things about art, perhaps the greatest thing, is that it can take the most salient aspects of a specific thing in the real world, and re-present them in a way that is is both more meaningful and more useful within the context of the artwork,” Dane Larsen, Visual Arts teacher, said. “I can think of few things more useful than a mature, living tree, but not in the context of a pre-school learning community on the ground floor of a three-story building. But the sculptural form of a tree in that place is exceptionally useful. It is a place to climb, to clamber, to crawl, to hang, to rest, to read, to cuddle, to hide. It’s not a substitute for actual nature, but hopefully, it will do at least some of the things a real tree might.”

The tree sculpture will be composed of cedar 4x4s that will be cross-laminated, which means that each layer will be laid perpendicular to its adjacent layers. The tree will be approximately nine feet tall and will be topped with leaves attached by rare-earth magnets. These detachable leaves will give the students the opportunity to decorate them either as the seasons change or in other fun patterns. The leaves, plus the tree’s open structure that features crawl spaces and clambering spaces, will continually encourage creativity and gross motor skills development in our Lower School students.

Larsen has completed an initial sketch of the sculpture and plans to begin installation on May 15, beginning what he knows will be a “huge project.” He also plans to involve his AP Sculpture students after they have submitted their final portfolios. With their help, the sculpture will be finished by the time the Lower School opens and promises to be a key feature in our students’ learning experience.

Check out ESD's social media for more construction updates and insights!

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"I challenge you all to think more deeply. I challenge you to get involved and make a difference. There will be no better opportunity to be happy than to follow your passion in life. Take action on something you're passionate about. Don't deny what God created you uniquely to be."  

- Daron Babcock, Founder of Bonton Farms


On October 10, ESD seniors had the incredible opportunity to hear from Daron Babcock, founder and Executive Director of Bonton Farms, as part of the annual Robert H. Dedman Lecture Series Endowment for Leadership.

Mr. Babcock, who was introduced by Senior Class President Will Minnis '19, spoke to students about the importance of following their true passions in life. Mr. Babcock left his job in Corporate America because he was compelled to make a real difference in the lives of others. After a friend introduced him to a group of men fighting to stay out of prison after their release, he left his job and moved to Bonton "with no other plans than to be a good neighbor."

Mr. Babcock's journey to founding Babcock Farms was not a direct line, which is something he felt important to share with students. Bonton is known as a "food desert," or a community that resides farther than one mile from a food source or large grocery store. He recognized he could make a lasting difference in the community by improving their food problem. He and several other community members planted a garden alongside his house, soon realizing this was an opportunity to not only create a food source but to make money in the process. Mr. Babcock visited the City Council and was given a plot of land to form the first Bonton Farms. Later, after a series of fortunate events and generous donors, the Bonton community members were gifted a bigger tract of land, cultivating tools, and more volunteers to form what is now the Bonton Farms Extension.

Founding Bonton Farms was not only a test of leadership but also a lesson in how to overcome obstacles. He told of how their first piece of land was overgrown and they could only afford a few machetes to begin clearing the land because it was "all they had." A volunteer noticed and the next weekend, the group brought chainsaws; this also seemed insufficient to clear the land, but it was "all they had." Finally, another volunteer brought a tractor and the land was able to be cleared. Mr. Babcock reminded students to persevere when following their passions and seemingly facing the insurmountable: "You'll think you can't overcome it because you don't have the tools, but if you show up with all that you have, the rest will fall into place," said Babcock.

Started in 2002, the Robert H. Dedman Lecture Series Endowment provides students opportunities to learn lessons in leadership from outstanding achievers across many industries. Guests have included captains of many industries, heroes, and champions of philanthropy and service. For more information, please contact Carol Bergman (

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The Advanced Placement Scholar Awards recognize high school students who have demonstrated exemplary college-level achievement on their AP exams. This year, ESD had an incredible number of students who were awarded for their performance on the 2018 AP exams. A total of 90 students, including two sophomores (now junior), scored high enough on their AP exams to be awarded the title of an AP Scholar and more. Pictured above are many of ESD's current students who earned this achievement. 

ESD offers 32 Advanced Placement coursework options. 2018-19 AP classes include Art History; Biology; Calculus AB; Calculus BC; Chemistry; Comparative Government; Computer Science A; Computer Science Principles; English Language & Composition; English Literature & Composition; Environmental Science; Environmental Science & Engineering; European History; French Language & Culture; Latin; Macroeconomics; Microeconomics; Psychology; Physics I; Physics II; AP Seminar; Spanish Language & Culture; Statistics; Studio Art: Ceramics, Drawing, 2-D Portfolio, 3-D Design, Photography; U.S. Government & Politics; U.S. Government & Politics; and World History.

National AP Scholar: scored a 4 or higher on eight or more AP exams and an average score of 4 on all AP exams taken. These students are also AP Scholars with Distinction.

Scholars from the Class of 2018: Sophie Holland, Tarushi Mittal, Sophie Saland, and Katherine Smythe

AP Scholar with Distinction: scored a 3 or higher on five or more AP exams with an average score of 3.5 on all AP exams taken

Scholars from the Class of 2019: John Calvert, Sriya Dodda, Mason Gosslee, Will Minnis, Anisa Noor, Anastasia Sotiropoulos, and Maddie Tong

Scholars from the Class of 2018: Lauren Aronowitz, Julia Beckel, Amelia Danklef, Brenda Diaz, Jack Hardage, Isabel Harrington, Trevor Hobbs, Kathleen Hobson, Sophie Holland, Peyton Jeter, Lauchlin Langston, Ellery Marshall, Sarah Kate Massey, Thomas May, Brianna McLarty, Tarushi Mittal, Emilie Owens, Braden Rhone, Taylor Robertson, Sophie Saland, Katherine Smythe, Sophie Stener, Caitlyn Tong, and Carly Weisberg

AP Scholar with Honor: scored a 3 or higher on four or more AP exams and an average score of 3.25 on all AP exams taken

Scholars from the Class of 2019: Allison Herring, Christian King, Walker Lay, Maggie Lipscomb, Clayton Mulford, Cooper Newsom, Christopher Talbot, and Ella Varel

Scholars from the Class of 2018: Samuel Bass, Rowen Brown, Meredith Moran, Pearson Riley, and Amanda Warren

AP Scholar: scored a 3 or higher on three or more AP exams

Scholars from the Class of 2020: Tarun Mittal, Richard Roberson

Scholars from the Class of 2019: Will Beck, Grace Boyd, Reece Breaux, Atticus Cabrales, Samy Dar, Elliot Duessel, Alexandra Everbach, Mackenzie Fain-Parish, Cameron Goldstein, McKinley Lawson, Lauren Marks, Jackson Mechem, Gianna Pope, Chloe Raines, Sydney Rezaie, Annie Saustad, Annie Sawers, Bella Scott, Jetlyn Toledo, Madison Willox, Anna Winkeler, and Evan Zheng

Scholars from the Class of 2018: Samantha Brosler, Emma Cabrales, Leta Flores, Hector Hernandez, Harrison Jin, Cameron Johnson, Matthew Jones, Edward King, Lauren Levy, Quincy Lynch, Suzanne McGee, Brandon Meaux, Aly Molubhoy, Sabrina Nuth, Isabella Siragusa, Campbell Smith, Margaret Smith, Ellery Spencer, Shelby Stansbury, Emma White, Kaicheng Zhang, and Gwyneth Zogg

To learn more about AP Awards and your students' scores, visit the AP Students website here.

Congratulations to these outstanding scholars!

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Six AP Art students from the Episcopal School of Dallas created installations for the “Psychedelic Robot” art event, a 10-day pop-up immersive art show that began September 20. Kathryn Ferguson ‘19, Molly McBrayer ‘19, Anisa Noor ‘19, Taezja Phelan ‘19, Annie Saustad ‘19, and Annie Sawers ‘19 presented their work on 5’x8’ canvases, each of them based on the artist’s individual style and experience. The works present a variety of colors and styles, showcasing the wide range of skills developed throughout their art experience here at ESD. Many of the students’ ideas stemmed from earlier drawings or sketches they completed in smaller versions. “We’re not used to working on anything larger than an 18”x24”, so blowing it up to a 5’x8’ has been really hard,” said Taezja Phelan.

These students have worked tirelessly both after school and on the weekends - sometimes working eight-hour days - to create and install their art. “We have all spent so much time on our pieces and we’re really excited to have it be real, to compare as more than a grade, and be recognized as actual artists,” said Annie Sawers. Although the process has been grueling, it has been worth it. “We do it because we love it,” said Annie Saustad. This is a tremendous opportunity for our students to showcase their work outside of the classroom and their ESD peers. “I think we all kind of hate on ourselves sometimes, and get tired of our own art, and we all see and appreciate each other’s, so just seeing other people affirm that everyone is so talented and so good at what they’re doing is going to be so cool,” said Anisa Noor.

Being part of this event gives these student-artists a chance to be recognized as just artists, something they are looking forward to. “We’re super proud of all that we’ve done so far. Even though we’re young and new to this, we’re still respected artists,” said Kathryn Ferguson. These students have worked together since their sophomore year and have formed a strong community over those three years. “We know each other really well and know each other’s styles. It’s been really fun to watch this come together,” said Molly McBrayer.

The event, now referred to as the “Woodstock for millenials,” is expected to have an outstanding turnout over its 10-day tenure. Besides our own ESD students, the event will also feature internationally acclaimed and local artists. To learn more about the event, visit the Psychedelic Robot website.

We are so proud of these Eagles and all their hard work!


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In August, 10 faculty and staff, representing all divisions, set forth on a profound professional journey to Tanzania, Africa. It started as a pen pal program connecting Middle School science classes and has developed into a life-changing experience for those on both sides of the ocean. ESD educators shared their learning with faculty and staff during in-service sessions.

See additional photos from the experience here and read more from Mainsprings below: 

Sister School Sends Team of Educators

August 22, 2018 12:38 pm Published by Mainsprings

The Episcopal School of Dallas (ESD) began supporting Mainsprings several years ago and their Middle School World Affairs Club and Middle School science students began a Pen Pal program with our Joseph and Mary students. This letter exchange eventually turned into a more formal partnership, and we are delighted to call ESD our sister school! 

With this growing partnership, faculty members from ESD decided to take a trip to our flagship campus for the first time this summer. They had the opportunity to not only spend time with students and staff at their sister school, our Joseph and Mary Primary School, but were also able to participate in various service activities while on campus. They also led a Staff Development day for 25 staff members from both our Primary and Secondary School and covered topics such as: learner-centered approaches to teaching, assessments for learning, peer review strategies, peer teaching and learning, team teaching/team coaching, classroom management, science-based practicals, digital learning pedagogies in effective mathematics learning/teaching, the use of teaching aids in teaching language and arts subjects/science subjects, and strategies for helping weaker learners perform well. 

"We saw a purity of love. It was incredible how warmly we were included in the lives of the girls, the students, the faculty, and the village. It was a kind of love that challenged me to confront my own unnecessary boundaries, that pushed me to reject my comfort with complacency and to participate in the life of my own community more fully. If any of us thought we were there to do good, we were outdone. The daily shared goodness, the cooperation and unity that we witnessed was inspiring and instructive. That's just one of the treasures that we will bring home.  am grateful for the fellowship, and cannot wait to continue learning with and loving this special school and community." – Lindsey, ESD Curriculum Specialist.

"Professional development is an important part of every educator's life. Even knowing that, it can be hard to have enthusiasm for early morning and late afternoon growth sessions. The enthusiasm and buy-in from the teachers at Joseph and Mary School was infectious, as was their excitement to try out the new ideas they took away. All the teachers who participated in the staff development – ESD and Joseph and Mary School – walked away with new understandings about teaching and a sense of trust to try new things." – Megan, ESD Lower School Library Media Director

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In remembrance of the events of 9/11, Interim Head of Middle School Chelle Wabrek hosted a Memorial Service today for Middle School students. Wabrek urged students to remember that although they were not yet born at the time of these events, 9/11 is an important day for us all and forces us to consider how to be heroes every day, not just in the face of tragedy.

Father Harmuth opened the assembly by giving an overview of the events of 9/11. In 2001, Father Harmuth served as a Chaplain for the Dallas division of the FBI and was part of the second group sent to Ground Zero in New York City a week after the attacks on September 11. There he served in the morgue and spoke with rescue and recovery workers on the ground at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Father Harmuth was also instrumental in the design of The Mourn Window, the first permanent 9/11 memorial in Dallas, found in ESD's All Saints Chapel.

Jody Trumble, Director of Campus Safety, also shared her story of service during the tragic events. Trumble was a member of the Air Force Reserves at the time and had just finished a night shift at the Burleson Police Department when she was woken up to the news. She remembers a friend calling her repeatedly, waking her from just an hour of sleep around 9:00 a.m. She answered, “The world better be on fire.” As she turned on the TV, she realized it was - and was immediately prepared to travel where needed to help out.

In the hours that followed the first crash, Trumble recalls the chaos and misinformation that spread throughout the news. Then, 11 days after the attack, she and a group of Air Force Reserve members arrived at DFW headed overseas. Trumble remembers arriving with their Army green bags and approaching the American Airlines counter, where a staff member recognized their intent and simply said “thank you.”

“Life is about service, and we never know when something may happen to change our world. When you have the chance to act, to be a hero - be one,” she concluded.

We are so thankful for the service of Jody Trumble and Father Harmuth, and all those who serve and act as heroes to keep us safe!


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The third annual Leadership Retreat for Upper School students was held August 11 on the Merrell Road Campus. The goal was to offer students an opportunity to explore the meaning of leadership, understand its impact at ESD and beyond, and practice the qualities and skills necessary to be effective.

Over 140 freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors were invited to participate. This diverse group of student-leaders included members of student council, vestry, ambassadors, affinity and alliance clubs, music honors society, athletic team captains, newspaper staff, and class officers. Several faculty and staff also attended, including Hobson Family Head of School Dave Baad and Head of Upper School Henry Heil. The all-day event provided space for meaningful conversations among students, faculty, and administrators, many of which they may not interact with regularly.

Heil said, "Leadership is often thought of as having a title or being loud. An effective way of teaching emotional intelligence and empathy is to expose students to different leadership types, present situations they will actually have to face, and provide a safe space where they can practice with their peers."

Smaller breakout groups of students rotated through workshops facilitated by faculty who modeled various types of leadership styles. Students role-played situations they may encounter in their specific position. Students also met with their leadership teams and planned future activities.

"Developing student-leaders is a continual process of building and not a one-time event," Heil said.

Leadership programming continues throughout the year and the curriculum.