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Earlier this month, third-grade students at The Episcopal School of Dallas visited North Dallas Shared Ministries (NDSM) to hand-deliver the 454 bags of food and toiletries - an impressive 3,178 items -  they collected in last week's food drive. This was the culmination of the students' social studies curriculum unit related to wants vs. needs. Students learned that 1 in 4 children (300,000 kids) in North Texas is food insecure, meaning they don't have reliable access to enough affordable and nutritious food or hygiene products.

Students visited a local grocery store earlier this year and were given a budget of just $13.78* - the cost for NDSM to feed one hungry person each day. Students used their mathematical reasoning skills to spend wisely, hoping to make each penny count on behalf of those they were serving. What they learned fueled their determination to help other children in need.

According to their website, North Dallas Shared Ministries’ food programs help 1,000 people each week, so they go through a lot of groceries – $1.8 million annually. Although COVID prevented an in-person delivery last year, students were excited to load the donations onto buses and hand-deliver all 3,178 items. After carrying in all the items, they stocked the pantry shelves. Volunteers emphasized to students the importance of serving the community and how the donated items will help families less fortunate than themselves. 

“While we were at NDSM, we actually got to see volunteers unpacking their donations and placing them right on the shelves,” said Courtney Phelps, Director of Community Service Learning. “It was so amazing the kids got to see so quickly how their donations were going to impact a family in need.”

We are so proud of these Eagles and the many parent volunteers, faculty, and staff that support this great cause.

*Number derived from information gathered from Feeding America, the USDA Thrifty Food Plan, and SNAP benefits estimates for a family of four. 

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Bonjour! Last week, middle and upper school students at The Episcopal School of Dallas celebrated National French Week with a variety of fun (and educational) activities around campus. From French-themed food like crepes and pain au chocolat to playing petanque outside, students enjoyed a variety of learning opportunities.

Similar to last year, the French Department partnered with different departments on campus as well. Middle School Art Teacher Elizabeth Wilson joined middle school again to create a piece inspired by the Rwandan artists in students’ "EntreCultures" French book. In addition to their study of fine arts, students explored the culinary arts as well. SAGE catered a special cheese tasting, featuring French cheeses such as Brie, bleu, Boursin cheese, and chèvre, a goat cheese. Middle School French Teacher Joumana Arraj also held a small French brunch with croissants and crepes. 

Upper School French Club Co-Presidents Ruby Long '22 and Virginia Nussbaumer '22 spoke in daily worship, and Dalyan Prieto-Akmansoy '24 delivered the Lord's Prayer in French. Upper school also explored the French culinary arts with a fun crepes station in the Study Commons. Aside from these fun cultural activities, students also honed their language and history skills by listening to music and playing trivia games in French. 

"National French Week was a well-needed break from the norm," said Upper School French Teacher Laila Kharrat, "and something that brought joy to many people this week!"

Très bien, Eagles!

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The Episcopal School of Dallas has four student-athletes from the Class of 2022 who have officially committed to play their respective sports at the collegiate level. Please see below for a list of each student-athlete's sport and university.

Davis Baker - Baseball - University of Pennsylvania

Cheyanne Carson-Banister - Lacrosse - Binghamton University 

Grant Jungerman - Soccer - Southern Methodist University

Jackson Morash - Tennis - Lehigh University

Congratulations to these student-athletes on this incredible achievement!

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ESD’s Upper School Student Vestry began as a small group of mostly seniors who helped read scriptures and prayers during daily worship. Seven years later, the group has 60 members, comprised of freshmen through seniors, who collaborate with the chaplains in planning, organizing, and leading daily worship. 

Not only has the number of students grown exponentially but so have their responsibilities. Students are selected for the Vestry based on their thoughtful application essays, recommendations from Vestry members and faculty/staff, and prior Vestry service. Each member is assigned to one of seven teams aligned with ESD's seven-day academic schedule; led by an upperclassman, each team is then responsible for constructing the daily liturgy and utilizing all members of their team to make sure everyone is involved. “We have intentionally created opportunities for all Vestry members to play an important role,” said Middle and Upper School Chaplain Tim Kennedy. “I am really proud of how we've been able to grow Vestry in number and function over the last three years and cannot imagine doing daily worship without a strong Vestry.”

Beyond the planning of the daily liturgy, Vestry also has smaller subgroups or guilds that manage specific projects. The Acolyte Guild, which ensures training of student acolytes; the Communications Guild, which coordinates both internal and external communications; the Lower School Chapel Guild, which collaborates with the Lower School Chaplain on opportunities to interact in lower school daily worship; and the Senior Advisory Guild, which works with the senior advisories to plan their individual Advisory Chapels.

After the formal commissioning of the Vestry members during daily worship last week, Senior Chaplain Nate Bostian offered up this prayer:

Lord of Love and God of Life, we thank you for our Upper School Vestry, and for the work of worship, planning, and leading you have called them to in this community. Fill them with your Light, that they may be Light to others, and help us worship you in Spirit and in Truth. This we ask for the sake of your Love. Amen.

We are thankful for the leadership of these students. Proud of you, Eagles!

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Special thank you to our parents, faculty, students, and staff for their work in constructing a Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Altar for our community. It is featured in the study commons for classes and students to view. Members of the middle school diversity club learned more about the ofrenda after school on Monday.

"Dia de los Muertos is such a special tradition in my culture, and I always love being able to set up the altar at school," said Gina Montagna '22.  "Whenever I pass by the altar while at school, I feel so happy and proud that my culture and traditions are being represented in our community. It always turns out so colorful, and it really brightens up the commons! This year, Latinos Unidos helped make the paper flowers for the altar, so many of us were able to see our work actually displayed on the altar." 

Day of the Dead festivities unfold over two days in an explosion of color and life-affirming joy. November 1 is Día de los Inocentes or Día de los Angelitos and honor dead children. On November 2, adults who have passed away are remembered and honored with Día de los Difuntos. The holiday originated in pre-Hispanic cultures, including Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua people, who considered mourning the dead disrespectful as death was a natural part of life's continuum. Latin American custom combines indigenous Aztec ritual with Catholicism, brought to the region by Spanish conquistadores. 

Sometimes set in three tiers representing heaven, purgatory, and earth, elements of the "Altar de Muertos" often include:

Personal belongings of the deceased: They can be photos or some object that they used
Cross: Represents the four cardinal points
Pan de Muerto: Represents the host’s generosity
Candles: Guide the souls to the Altar
Flowers: Their aroma and color guide the souls of the deceased
Copal Incense: The passage of life and death
Food & Water: To delight and to quench the thirst of the souls
Calaveritas: Represent the deceased of the family
Papel Picado: The union between life and death

"Every year, I have the opportunity to share with our students a little bit about our Latino culture and I had the blessing to honor my grandfather and grandmother with our student body and our Spanish classes during our Día de los Muertos," said Señora Garcini, Senior Class Dean and Spanish Teacher. "My abuelitos are gone but will not be forgotten."

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Last week in honor of National Mole Day, which is observed on the 23rd of October between 6:02 a.m. and 6:02 p.m. in honor of Avogadro’s number (6.02×10²³), chemistry students at The Episcopal School of Dallas held their own Mole Beauty Pageant!

Not to be confused with its furry friend of the same name, Mole is the basic measurement unit in Chemistry which is basically the mass of one molecule of any compound or an element. Avogadro’s number, the inspiration for the “holiday,” defines the number of atoms in one mole. The celebration of National Mole Day was started to spark an interest in the subject of Chemistry and to honor the invention of the Avogadro number.

“The mole beauty pageant idea is one I came up with years ago to give students something fun and different to do that is connected to their study of chemistry,” said ESD Upper School Chemistry Teacher Walt Warner. Sophomores were given the optional assignment to submit their moles, made out of fabric, clay, ceramic, or paper. The judging was done based on creativity, craftsmanship, consistency of theme, and a short essay on their mole's favorite element. Prizes were then awarded for best-in-show, second and third place, most creative, and best craftsmanship. 

Visit ESD's Instagram to View Winning Moles

The following sophomores were recognized for their mole creations in the pageant:

“Cal” by Addison Page 

  • Best of Show
  • First Place: Creativity 
  • First Place: Craftmanship

“Apollo” by Kate Ryder, Daly Ryder, and Simran Malhotra 

  • Second Place Overall
  • Second Place: Creativity 
  • Second Place: Craftmanship

“Namoleon Dynamite” by Easterly Yeaman 

  • Third Place Overall
  • Second Place: Creativity 
  • Third Place: Craftmanship

“Cowboy” by Abby Pickens  

  • Best Essay Overall
  • Third Place: Creativity

“Mollie” by Elliot Lovitt  

  • Third Place: Craftmanship

“Greta Texa Mole” by Stevenie Nussbaumer 

  • Third Place: Creativity 

“Origamimole” by Tristan Hakert 

  • Third Place: Creativity 

“Maria” by Brayden Girata 

  • Honorable Mention: Creativity

“Stella” by Cara Lichty

  • Honorable Mention: Creativity

“Moleja Boy” by Ava Loftus 

  • Honorable Mention: Creativity

“Razmatazz” by Gabby McClintick

  • Honorable Mention: Craftsmanship

Special thanks to Mr. Warner for this fun learning activity and shoutout to the students’ impressive creativity!

Learn more about National Mole Day here.

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After a brief hiatus due to COVID and distance learning, AP Physics II students at The Episcopal School of Dallas held their second Recyclable Watercraft Exhibition last week in ESD's Quarry. This race was the final capstone to a project nearly two months in the making: constructing a watercraft out of recyclable materials that could support at least 150 lbs of weight that is a) as small of a volume as possible and b) as buoyant as possible. The test? Racing in the Quarry. 

Back in September, AP Physics II studied fluid mechanics, which included a study of buoyancy. After discussing fluid mechanics and thermodynamics of hurricanes, students looked specifically at how anthropogenic climate change has affected hurricane formation. As a sort of real-world application project, AP Physics Teacher Matthew Varvir challenged students to create a prototype "emergency watercraft device" for communities that are seeing higher risks of flooding. "This project is essentially a way for them to reinforce some concepts as well as delving deeper into some physics that goes beyond the content of this class," said Varvir. Students have spent the last several weeks constructing their watercrafts outside of class. "I think there is no question that they have enjoyed the opportunity to work with their hands and build something rather than just seeing all of the ideas on a whiteboard."

Five groups, each with their own watercraft prototype, gathered in the Quarry for "testing" with quite the spectator crowd in attendance. Many upper school students and teachers gathered outside to watch the resulting watercraft while Mr. Varvir and Asst. Director of Outdoor Education Davis Felder ’06 supervised from the water. This year's winner was Kai Robinson '22, whose watercraft was constructed of recycled water jugs. 

Congrats to these hard-working Eagles on a very fun race!

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Founded in 2008 in Ohio, Buddy Up Tennis is a program for both children and adults with Down Syndrome that combines tennis, fitness, and social activities. Each week, athletes are partnered with volunteer Buddies for a clinic consisting of 30 minutes of fitness conditioning followed by 60 minutes of tennis instruction. The Dallas Chapter of Buddy Up Tennis launched in March 2019 and has quickly grown to be the largest in the nation! 

Julie Schiller, Girls Tennis Program Director at The Episcopal School of Dallas, was instrumental in both bringing the Dallas Chapter to ESD and getting fellow Eagles involved. A friend of Dallas Program Coordinator Cheryl Halpert, she helped facilitate ESD’s partnership with Buddy Up Tennis after the program was forced to go virtual during the last year. “Eventually, I reached out to the players and parents about Buddy Up coming to ESD, and even a few parents have joined us,” said Coach Schiller. 

“Coach Schiller emailed the team about this exciting opportunity. A few seniors [who had volunteered before] had amazing stories to tell so I signed up almost right away,” said Sophia Ukeni ’23. “Being surrounded by such hardworking athletes who were determined to learn and develop their skills in the sport was extremely rewarding.”

Before their tennis lesson with a curriculum specifically created for athletes with Down Syndrome, Buddies and athletes warm up with fitness conditioning. "The fitness part is probably my favorite, where you jump over hurdles, walk on balance beams, and run around cones," said Dalyan Prieto-Akmansoy '24. "It’s so nice seeing their faces after they finish because they look genuinely happy and feel accomplished."

“This past Sunday over Fall Break was my first time volunteering and I had a great time,” said Easterly Yeaman ’24. “It was so much fun working with my athlete, who is the same as age me, encouraging her throughout the practice, and laughing with her all day. All the athletes were super enthusiastic and happy which was very contagious.”

According to the Buddy Up For Life website, the parent program of the Buddy Up Tennis program, “Individuals with Down Syndrome face increased susceptibility to physical and psychological health complications, including risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, low muscle tone, atypical development of motor skills, and challenges in behavioral activity. In response to this critical need, the Buddy Up For Life program was founded beginning with simple, experimental tennis activities and has since evolved into the first and only organization with a comprehensive tennis and fitness program tailored to athletes with Down Syndrome.”

There are several remaining clinics this fall - visit to become a Buddy today.

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Back in August, fifth-graders at The Episcopal School of Dallas were posed with the question, “How can I impact my global community locally?” This question was the springboard for their year-long service learning project that will ultimately aim to purchase a clean water well in a needed community. The project, in partnership with Paper for Water, a local organization working to provide safe drinking water to communities abroad through the creation and sale of paper origami ornaments, aims to bring awareness and support to these affected communities

“Our fifth-grade students talk about natural resources and water in their science classes so we searched for an organization that would be able to make that curricular connection,” explains ESD's Director of Service Learning, Courtney Phelps. “They have engaged in preliminary discussions about sustainable development goals, access, and quality as it relates to natural resources like water, as well as stereotypes and their impact.”

To gain an initial hands-on understanding of what it’s like to not have immediate access to safe, clean drinking water, students participated in a “water walk” where they carried five-gallon jugs of water across Stoffel Commons. Though their walk was only about 100 feet, they learned that the average person who does not have this access has to walk 3.7 miles to retrieve it.
The fundraising portion of the project will start later this semester, with fifth graders and their senior buddies joining forces to create paper origami ornaments to sell to the community this holiday season. Additional fundraising efforts will take place at service pop-ups in the spring. Their comprehensive fundraising efforts will go toward purchasing a water well in a needed community of their choice.
Good luck to ESD's students as they embark on their year-long cross-curricular service project, and stay tuned for information on how you can support their efforts by purchasing your own origami ornaments this holiday season!
Paper For Water's primary function is to raise money to fund water wells worldwide. The organization is committed to teaching children in developed countries about the world water crisis and working to help children in developing countries gain access to clean water and sanitation. Paper For Water seeks to empower the youth in developed countries with skills in leadership, philanthropy, and entrepreneurship. It also wants to improve their understanding, compassion, empathy and to broaden their knowledge of the world around them. Learn more here.

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Last week during Special Programming Day, seniors at The Episcopal School of Dallas had the incredible opportunity to hear from Drew McKnight, Co-Chief Investment Officer at Fortress Investment and current ESD parent, as part of the annual Robert H. Dedman Endowed Lecture Series for Leadership.

McKnight, who was introduced by ESD Senior Class President Jonathan Scurtis '22, spoke to students about the key roles that both reading and relationships play in becoming a leader. He encouraged seniors to seek out mentors, people who guide and inspire them along their life's path, both during and post-college. “One of the best investments you can make is in your relationships,” he said. McKnight’s own personal mentors have guided him to love to read, to a national championship in lacrosse, to multiple jobs, and even to Dallas. 

As a two-time All-American and member of the 1999 University of Virginia Men’s Lacrosse Championship team, McKnight also emphasized that his background in athletics contributed significantly to his professional journey. “It’s easy to be in first place, but it’s a lot harder to be successful when you’re coming from behind,” he said. “One of the biggest things I learned through sports was how to get up off the mat.” This philosophy has served him well, especially working in the finance sector where markets continually ebb and flow.  

Inspired by Harry S. Truman’s quote, “not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers,” McKnight ended his visit by gifting each member of the senior class a copy of “The Obstacle Is the Way” by Ryan Holiday. He encouraged students to read it and email him their thoughts so he could give them more book recommendations. He also shared his current reading list with students, which you can view here.

Started in 2002, the Robert H. Dedman Endowed Lecture Series at The Episcopal School of Dallas 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 (