Nicole Jacobsen
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National Honor Society

More than 55 percent of the Class of 2016 from The Episcopal School of Dallas was inducted in the National Honor Society during a special Chapel service on Wednesday, April 8. To qualify for the honor, students must demonstrate excellence in character, leadership, scholarship, and service to others. These students must also have been enrolled in classes at ESD for at least one semester and maintain a cumulative GPA of 6.0 on an 8.0 scale.

Those inducted into the School’s NHS chapter include: Areeb Afridi, Haley Allen, Meika Bass, Matthew Baum, Caroline Beutel, Caroline Blaylock, Alexis Bray, Hattie Browning, Megan Casey, Jack Colonnetta, Cullen Corr, Natalie Crutcher, Matthew Dross, Janie Dutter, Morgan Eller, Raymond Fernandez, Jackson Fitzgerald, Hunter Franks, Gabby Guillory, Josiah Hamid-Khani, Meredith Hessel, Rankin Hobbs, Abigail Holman, Johari Jenkins, Olivia Jennings, Mackenzie Kelly, David Kerrigan, Jack Kieffaber, Anna Konradi, Grant Krumholz, Amanda Kung, Parker Levy, Zoe Long, Evan Marshall, Annabel McGill, Blake Morrison, Charles Munson,  Tilley Neuhoff, Michael Patterson, Henry Rathjen, Pedro Rivera, Chloe Roberson, Kate Robinson, Cristian Savoldelli, Trey Scardino, Bennett Sessa, Mikhail Seymour, Charlie Sikes, Gaetano Sinacola, Margaret Siu, Graham Smith, Madeline Smith, Julius Stener, Will Stroud, Sarah Stukalin, Layton Sussman, Kohl Swift, Kyle Vanesko, Whitney Webb, Claire Wirtz, and Rebecca Worsham.

Nicole Jacobsen
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The fourth-grade science curriculum at The Episcopal School of Dallas is filled with hands-on experiments, testing hypothesis, and even dissecting a cow’s eye. Throughout the year, students study the human body including the eyes to gain a better sense of how these vital organs work. To culminate the unit, an ophthalmologist comes to speak with the students about their career, how they can care for their own eyes, and show classes a video of a cataract surgery. After the lecture, students headed back to the classroom to dissect their own cow eye. 

“Leading up to the dissection students study the inside and outside parts of the eye, including different diseases and medical conditions, how vision works, and what the different parts of the eye are called,” fourth-grade teacher Brenda Wilder explained. “The students learn so much throughout the unit and enjoy applying their knowledge to a real eyeball. It’s quite impressive to see how much they absorb and can identify during the dissection.”

Before students can make the first incision, they must identify the outer parts of the eye to their teacher or group of parent volunteers. After cutting into the eye, they are responsible for knowing how to remove the cornea, iris, pupil, lens, and retina. From there, parent volunteers can help them locate the aqueous and vitreous humors, the optic nerve, and sometimes the cow’s blind spot.

“It was cool seeing all the parts of the eye because we had spent so much time studying it on paper. I liked seeing the vitreous humor the best because it looked like Jell-O!” Caroline Ragan, a fourth-grade student in Brenda Wilder’s class, said. “At first I was nervous that I would mess up, but now I'm happy that I did it. It is a very fun dissection, and everyone should try it. Even if you're scared, you will like it." 

Several of Caroline’s classmates agreed that finding the vitreous humor was the most exciting part. For others, like Luke Feuer, finding the optic nerve was the step he enjoyed the most.

“I thought the optic nerve was neat because you could feel the bump inside in the retina, which causes the blind spot,” he explained. “I also like the cornea because it was like a protective sheet covering the eye.”

Another exciting part of the curriculum includes a visit from a guest from the Southeastern Guide Dogs, a non-profit organization that trains dogs to assist the visually impaired. During the presentation, students are taught about the different levels of visual impairment and how the dogs can help blind people find a new sense of independence. 

“I was very impressed with the students’ patience, respect, and preciseness during the dissection and while studying the entire unit,” fourth-grade teacher Allison Darnell said. “The lesson was a wonderful way to conclude our study of the eye.”

Click here to see more photos from the dissection.

Nicole Jacobsen
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Discover Summer at ESD!

With the summer just around the corner, it’s smart to start thinking about how you’re going to fill your child’s days. Summer is a great time to kick back and relax, but at the same time it is important continue to have some organization in your child’s schedule. Half- or full-day camps are a great option when it comes to finding that balance of just enough structure with plenty of fun, but with so many options, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. To help you, we’ve come up with our top three tips when choosing a Summer Camp for your child.

1. The Interests of the Child: Every child has unique interests that are important to keep in mind when choosing a camp. For your sports buff, check out our football, baseball, lacrosse, or soccer camps for all ages and skill levels. For young scientists, check out robotics, mad scientists, oceanography, or computers from the inside out where campers build their own. Whether your child loves Fancy Nancy, plans to create a masterpiece, or wants to hone their “survival skills,” the array of offerings will surely delight even the choosiest of campers.

2. The Needs of the Parent: Maybe you work full time, or just need the mornings or afternoons to yourself to get some errands done. Whatever your needs are, there is a camp to accommodate you and your child. At ESD, we offer full-day and half-day camp options, as well as extended day care in both the mornings and afternoons. So no matter what camp you pick, your child will be well cared for until you can pick them up.

3. The Hidden Costs of Camps: It is important to look at exactly what the camp cost covers and what might be an additional expense. A less expensive camp could look like a “deal,” but after looking into the details you might have to add in additional expenses to meet your needs. Even if a camps cost a few dollars more, but when you explore further, you might discover it could have a more experienced instructor, a lower camper: camp counselor ratio, span a longer length of time, and or include all activity fees and supplies.

There is something for everyone this summer at ESD! ESD offers a wide range of summer opportunities to meet the needs of every child from age 3 through adult, ranging from adventure to sports camps, art camps, and academic opportunities. Please check out our Summer Camp website at

Still have questions? Feel free to contact Camp Director Mike Schneider at With more than 20 years of experience leading summer camps – he’s sure to be a great ally in planning your child’s super summer adventure.

Nicole Jacobsen
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ESD National Merit Scholars.JPG

Six seniors from The Episcopal School of Dallas have been named National Merit Scholarship Finalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Karina Boyea, Joseph Cheniae, Alexander Eggers, Christina Radford, Joseph Rooney, and Victoria Siu were recognized in a special chapel service on March 3 in front of their peers and parents; each student will remain in the competition to be considered for a National Merit Scholarship.

Approximately 15,000 students nation-wide advanced to Finalist standing; about 8,000 of them have the opportunity to receive scholarship offers now through June.

In addition to the six National Merit Scholarship Finalists, ESD had 12 additional Upper School students recognized as Commended Scholars by the National Merit Scholarship Program for their high academic achievements on the PSAT. Those students include: Johnathan BarrIgnacio BustamantePaul CahoonTate CuringtonKendall DeSantisJason GoolsbyWinston GuilloryRachel HershEmma JeneveinCharlotte NeuhoffHenry Thornton, and Sophie Wilson.

Although they will not continue in the 2015 competition for National Merit Scholarship awards, Commended Students placed among the top five percent of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2015 competition by taking the 2013 Preliminary PSAT/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

“The young men and women being named Commended Students have demonstrated the outstanding potential for academic success,” commented a spokesperson for NMSC. “The students represent a valuable national resource; recognizing their accomplishments, as well as the key role their schools play in their academic development, is vital to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation. We hope that this recognition will help broaden their educational opportunities and encourage them as they continue their pursuit of academic success.”

Caleb Williams ’15 was honored as one of 3,100 “Outstanding Participants” in the National Achievement Scholarship Program. Williams scored in the top 3 percent of more than 160,000 black students who requested consideration in the 2014 National Achievement Program based on their PSAT scores.

Nicole Jacobsen
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For the second year in a row, both varsity soccer teams from The Episcopal School of Dallas won the SPC Division I Championship titles. This year’s events were hosted by Houston-area independent schools, February 12-14.

With a first-round bye, the No.1 seeded Eagles defeated St. Mark’s 3-0 in the quarterfinals on Friday, February 13. Later that same day, the team posted a 2-0 win against Houston Kinkaid to propel them into the championship game against Bellaire Episcopal. In Saturday’s championship match, Joseph Rooney ’15 scored the game’s lone goal at the 17:40 mark to give the Eagle’s a 1-0 advantage. Anchored by ESD’s defense, the team collectively shutout their opponents for three consecutive games. Nine of the 11 starters in the championship game were seniors. This victory marks the fifth SPC Division I championship for Mark Gardner in his 22 seasons at ESD. Joining him on the sideline this year were Ryan Kneipper ’99, who was the captain of the 1999-winning team, and Vernon Seebaran.

For the girls, the team’s first win came in a 4-0 victory over John Cooper after a first-round bye. The No.2 seeded Eagles would go on to defeat Holland Hall 6-1 before defeating Hockaday for their second consecutive SPC Championship, 3-0. ESD’s win over Hockaday was particularly sweet, as the Eagles had just tied the very talented and No. 1 seeded Daisies three weeks prior to the SPC match. Ellis Miller ’17 scored twice for the Eagles in the championship game; teammate Morgan Eller ’16 added one goal with the assist credited to Karina Boyea ’15. This is the girls’ program’s sixth SPC Division I title. The Eagles are expected to return nine of the team’s 11 starters next season. Leading the Eagles were third-year head coach Mike Renshaw and assistant coach Dayna Davenport.

This year’s goals were scored by 14 different players on the girl’s roster. Ellis Miller ’17 ended the season with a team-high 22 goals, bringing her ESD career total to 34. For the boys, there were 10 who found the back of the net this season. Winston Guillory ’15 scored an impressive 39 goals in 20 games his final season with the Eagles, bringing his four-year career total to 65 and establishing a new single-season record for the boys. In 2002, Elizabeth Walsh Goode ’02 scored 39 goals her senior year, bringing her overall total to 99, a school record for the girls; she still holds the overall record for most goals scored in a single season at 45. Drew Moor ’02, current captain of the MLS Colorado Rapids, previously held the boys’ record with 32 goals in one season; Moor still holds the overall school record with 100 goals scored over a four-year period. Sarah Ashley Firstenberg ’13, who scored 36 goals in 17 games her senior year, holds ESD’s highest average goals scored per game at 2.12. Earlier this year, Mark Gardner became the first ESD coach to surpass 300 wins in a single varsity sport.

Winston Guillory ’15 is also ESD’s first student-athlete to participate on three SPC Championship-winning teams in one calendar year: soccer (2014, 2015), lacrosse (2014), and football (2014).

Nicole Jacobsen
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More than 280 Upper School students from The Episcopal School of Dallas received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for completing a minimum of 100 community service hours in a 12-month period. More than 65 percent of the Upper School students worked together to log more than 25,000 total hours of community service projects.

This year, 61 seniors were recognized for working with more than 60 Dallas organizations. Of this group, 53 percent of the students from the Class of 2015 have received the honor all four years of high school. The students who received the award for four consecutive years are: Brock Anglin, Saniha Aziz, Julian Baldridge, Johnathan Barr,Andrew Blair, Alyssa Bower,John Cannata, Lili Clark, Claire Cramm, Alicia Crenshaw, Tate Curington, Kendal DeSantis, Alexander Eggers, Jared Eichner, Gordon Gehan, Steven Gonzalez, Jason Goolsby, Christina Gordon, Winston Guillory, Liza Hamlin, James Hands, Brooks Hardcastle, Clayton Helbing, Madeline Hoodis, Harry Hull, Emma Jenevein, Caroline Jones, Matthew Kelley, Michael Kerr, Leyla Khotanzad, Libby Laughlin, Connie Lee,Rainey Lynch, Larson Lynn, Melanie Maguire, Gretchen Mahoney, Margot McGee,Alison McPherson, Haley Morway, Joey Mrozek, Claire North, Coco Pidgeon, Christina Radford, Caille Riley, Abigail Rivera, Joseph Rooney, Charlotte Scott, Sabrina Scott,Victoria Siu, Marisa Soto, Kristina Stukalin, Christina Tatum, Eliza Wagley, Alexandra Williamson, Sophie Wilson, and Haley Wood.

In the other grades, 75 juniors, 78 sophomores, and 74 freshmen were acknowledged for their community service commitments. In all, 66 percent of ESD’s Upper School students received the award. Several of the students choose to donate their time to multiple organizations; several seniors and juniors also sit on various leadership boards. Service to others is one of ESD’s four Founding Tenets, and each student must fulfill community service requirements to graduate.

Students received their pins and certificates during two special Chapel services on February 11 and 12. Karl Rathjen, Assistant Chief of Staff at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, and Meg Jones Boyd, the Director of Volunteer Services and Guest Relations at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, spoke at the services.

“You all have created a culture of volunteer service at ESD, and I know you will continue that beyond ESD,” Director of Community Service, Christi Morrow said. “Kids who volunteer become teenagers who volunteer, and teens who volunteer become adults who give back to their community.”

The President’s Volunteer Service Award was established in 2003 by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation to recognize the valuable contributions to community volunteers. Each award recipient is given an award pin, a personalized certificate of achievement, and a congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama.

Nicole Jacobsen
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Community Service at ESD “The Community Service Program at ESD allows students to help people in the local community and around the world,” she said. “I am so grateful to be part of because it has really made me a better and more appreciative person.”

The halls of The Episcopal School of Dallas are bursting with holiday cheer as Christmas Day approaches. Seniors and fifth-graders decorate ornaments to hang on the tree in the Study Commons, reindeer paintings adorn the walls of the Lower School hallways, and Middle School choir students sing in perfect harmony during their caroling trip around Dallas. Spreading Christmas cheer at ESD, however, is about so much more; for the School, the holidays are a time to give back to the Dallas community.

This season’s projects started before Thanksgiving Break when seniors Gretchen Mahoney and Margot McGee chaired a breakfast at the Original Pancake House to raise money for the St. Philip’s School and Community Center Christmas Store. In just a few hours, members of the Community Service Council raised nearly $400 to donate to the cause. The ESD Booster Club also donated money to help purchase gifts.

“ESD does a tremendous job of introducing students to a wide variety of organizations and volunteer work,” Mahoney said. “The School already has a great partnership with St. Philip’s, so it was especially meaningful to be able to help the students we have grown to know and love during the holidays.”

For McGee, being part of the ESD Community Service Council has made her more aware of the numerous philanthropic opportunities available in the community.

“The Community Service Program at ESD allows students to help people in the local community and around the world,” she said. “I am so grateful to be part of because it has really made me a better and more appreciative person.”

For each holiday season, ESD’s Director of Community Service, Christi Morrow, compiles a variety of activities for students of all ages to participate in. Projects range from helping distribute gifts during the Christmas service at Brother Bill’s Helping Hand, staffing Santa’s Workshop in Inwood Village for the Genesis Women’s Shelter, and decorating holiday cards to accompany meals for elderly and disabled clients of the Visiting Nurse Association’s Meals on Wheels program.

At the Lower School, third-grade students and families organize a food drive for North Dallas Shared Ministries. This year’s goal of 350 bags was quickly surpassed as the entire Lower School community pitched in to donate more than 570 bags to food insecure men, women, and children.

“We really helped feed a lot of kids, and North Dallas Shared Ministries said this is one of the largest donations they will receive this year,” one student explained. “It makes me happy that I’m helping a boy or girl less fortunate than me have a better holiday.”

The Lower and Middle School choirs also performed at nearby nonprofit organizations, including the Caruth Haven Court Retirement Center and Monticello West.

“My favorite was getting to sing to the people at the West Dallas Senior Center and Children’s Medical Center,” Colby Henderson '22 said. “It was really great to see people smile and light up when we sang our Christmas carols.”

During exams, Middle School students visited the St. Philip’s School and Community Center, the North Texas Food Bank to serve as classroom assistants and help sort donations. Others spent their study breaks sorting and packing shoes for orphans in Guatemala as part of Buckner Shoes for Orphan Soles, and decorating Christmas boxes filled with gifts for students at St. Philip’s.

The Class of 2015 created a new tradition and purchased small gifts for all of the School’s staff in celebration of the holiday season. Each faculty and staff member also received a beautiful red or white poinsettia plant, and the ESD Parents’ Association went above and beyond to supply the teacher’s lounge with festive snacks. Upper School students also decorated Christmas cookies for students at Foster Elementary.

“The Community Service Program broadens the outlooks of our students and prepares them for a lifetime of service to others,” Morrow said. “Students are encouraged to discover ways to make a difference in areas that interest them.”

The students’ time and energy doesn’t peak with the holidays, in fact, Upper School students are continuously working on large-scale projects. In the fall, senior Victoria Siu organized a self-defense class for women at Genesis Women’s Shelter. Other projects have included buildings benches for public parks, selling lemonade to help fight childhood cancer, running a summer baseball program for children with physical and mental disabilities, and hosting E-Waste drives to protect the environment.

In recognition for their efforts last year, 292 Upper School students earned the President’s Volunteer Service Award for completing a minimum of 100 hours of community service within 12 months.  In the Middle School, students host an annual “Lucky Ducky Derby” to raise money for water filtration systems in third-world countries. The entire ESD community is also invited to work on the School’s now annual Habitat for Humanity house.

“The students have put their faith into action during the Christmas season and met critical needs in the Dallas community through their participation in age-appropriate service projects,” Morrow said. “There is no greater calling than to teach our children to lead as servants.”

Nicole Jacobsen
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Invention Convention After several weeks spent studying some of the world’s most influential inventors, students at The Episcopal School of Dallas capitalized on their creative-thinking and problem-solving skills to develop their own devices for the second annual Invention Convention.

After several weeks spent studying some of the world’s most influential inventors, students at The Episcopal School of Dallas capitalized on their creative-thinking and problem-solving skills to develop their own devices for the second annual Invention Convention. Be it a piece of sports equipment, like the Lacrosse Boss, or a child-proof airbag for cars, the student pairings exceed expectations with their solutions to real-world problems.

“The Child Air Bag is a smaller and semi-deflated airbag that is safer for young children,” students Andrew Carrie and Henry Hamlin explained. “Our invention will make parents feel so much less concerned about their child’s safety knowing they won’t be hit with an adult airbag if the car gets in an accident.”

“Getting children to engage in the design process as they worked on these inventions and creations has been great practice in terms of collaborating with one another to solve a problem, learning to fail and try again, and then perfecting the speaking component in the form of a trade show, Chelle Wabrek, Assistant Head of Lower School said.

Another group of students took a more educational approach and invented a device that improves one’s lacrosse game.

Cren Boyd and Grace Exall turned an ordinary lacrosse stick into a teaching tool that tracks an athlete’s movement and then offers advice on how to better pass and catch the ball.

Leading up to the convention, students were instructed to complete a “Student Patent Application” that included an explanation and sketch of their invention. The application required an analysis of how the invention could positively contribute to society. Once approved by their teacher, the students received a patent number and permission to begin writing their business plan and consumer information presentations.

“I liked how we got to make the presentations on our ideas,” Alex Dabbous said. “I also liked how we learned to speak in front of adults and our friends while expressing our creativity.”

Each invention also needed to have a creative name, company title, the price of the device, and where it could be purchased. Some groups even went so far as to create slogans, jingles, and T-shirts to better market their products.

“Everyone was thoroughly engaged throughout this student-driven project,” fourth-grade teacher Brenda Wilder said. “The unit really allowed fourth graders to demonstrate independence and ownership, and they thrived!”

Final presentations were unveiled at the Invention Convention in front of a packed crowd that included fourth-grade classmates, younger peers, parents, and Lower School faculty and staff members. As consumers rotated between the tables, students recited their proposals and offered their best sales pitch for their product.

Other presentations at the Invention Convention included a solar-powered and holographic video game console; a software program that transforms a person’s voice into computer text; and a “Kid Entertainer” that produces clothing, pacifiers, toys, and even a stroller at the click of a button.

“I realized that it is hard to be a manufacturer and entrepreneur,” fourth-grade student John Cahoon said. “I think it is interesting that at this young age we were given a chance to come up with inventions that were completely our own.”

Nicole Jacobsen
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CellSim Project Each year, students in Deb Goudy’s Advanced Honors Computer Science class at The Episcopal School of Dallas are challenged to tackle a long-term project that encompasses coding, strategy, and collaboration. Students are granted the opportunity to participate in the Advanced Honors Computer Science class after successfully completing AP Computer Science.

Each year, students in Deb Goudy’s Advanced Honors Computer Science class at The Episcopal School of Dallas are challenged to tackle a long-term project that encompasses coding, strategy, and collaboration. Students are granted the opportunity to participate in the Advanced Honors Computer Science class after successfully completing AP Computer Science.

“Because we’re all interested in science, we wanted to create something to help teach other students,” Pedro Rivera ’16explained. “Our project aims to improve the experience for those taking Biology courses by creating a simulation of a cell that a students can control. We hope that by incorporating game mechanics we can make the software a teaching tool that is fun and interesting.”

The “CellSim” software will be used to help freshmen identify and understand the parts and functions of cells. Upon completion, the program will be available on computers for teachers to use during lectures, and made accessible for students to study with at home.

“We want to create something that can be used both during class and at the student’s leisure,” Evan Marshall ’16 said. “While we want teachers to use it, it’s more important to us that it becomes a tool to excite students enrolling in Biology.”

The project, created entirely by the students, is another example of how courses at The Episcopal School of Dallas use an inquiry-based learning approach that allows teachers and students to work together to co-create the curriculum.

“A large amount of planning has to be done before we can even write our first line of code, so we work on the project both during class and at home,” Bennett Sessa ’16 said. “We need to have a concrete idea of what the project really is, and where we intend for it to go so the base infrastructure is all relevant, yet concise.”

Though the project is still in the development stage, Kohl Swift ’16 anticipates the process to take the remainder of the 2014-15 school year.

“We had some problems choosing the engine, but since we haven’t started to really build the project we anticipate more challenges,” Swift said. “We hope to complete it by the end of the year, but with everything we have planned I could see it stretching into our senior-year curriculum.”

Nicole Jacobsen
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More than 120 students from over 20 Dallas and Fort Worth independent and public schools participated in the second annual “Fit For a King” chess tournament at The Episcopal School of Dallas.

More than 120 students from over 20 Dallas and Fort Worth independent and public schools participated in the second annual “Fit For a King” chess tournament at The Episcopal School of Dallas. Greenhill, with more than 20 participants, won the overall tournament with 45 points, ESD finished in second with 43 points, while St. Mark’s, Lakehill Preparatory, Trinity Christian Academy, Wesley Prep, and Parish Episcopal rounded out the top team standings.

At the tournament, each player competed in four or more rounds with a maximum of 30 minutes for each player to complete their moves. At the peak of the event, 56 tables featured games. Members from the University of Texas at Dallas Chess Program orchestrated the competition.

In addition to the team challenge, the tournament featured divisions for students in grade Kindergarten through twelfth, with the top four finishers in each category receiving a trophy. Individual winners were:

Grades 9 – 12:

  • First Place: Arya Nallanthighall – Greenhill
  • Second Place: Roger Wong – ESD
  • Third Place: Ben Tuttle – ESD
  • Fourth Place: Jensen Clardy – ESD

Grades 6 – 8:

  • First Place: Joseph Pfister – Hunt Middle School
  • Second Place: Tarun Viswanathan Mittal – ESD
  • Third Place: Arjun Kantamsetty – Parish Episcopal
  • Fourth Place: Jackson Barringer – Providence Christian School of Texas

Grades 4 – 5:

  • First Place: Paco Gomez-Quinonez – ESD
  • Second Place:  Ross Cunningham – St. Mark’s
  • Third Place: Abhinav Reddy Padala – Greenhill
  • Fourth Place: Gil Garza – Saint Monica

Grades 2 – 3:

  • First Place: Fernando Gomez-Quinonez – ESD
  • Second Place: Elizabeth Moore – Trinity Christian Academy
  • Third Place: Daniel Knipp – Lakehill Preparatory
  • Fourth Place: Judah Frankel – St. Mark’s

Kindergarten – First Grade:

  • First Place: Grant Bomersbach – Greenhill
  • Second Place: Truitt Backer – ESD
  • Third Place: Graham Ross – Greenhill
  • Fourth Place: Beau Blank – Saint Monica