Nicole Jacobsen
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Last December, the Episcopal School of Dallas announced the School would be sponsoring a house as part of its continued partnership with Habitat for Humanity. After nearly a year of encouragement, planning, manual labor, and teamwork, the home was dedicated to Rivelino Lopez and his four sons in a special ceremony held on Saturday, March 22.

Several members of the ESD community were in attendance, including Meredyth Cole, members of the men’s varsity basketball team, and dozens of students, alumni, parents, and faculty and staff members. The ceremony was officiated by The Reverend Amy Heller, ESD’s new senior chaplain.

“Helping build the Habitat house every Saturday was a blast,” Kate Robinson, a sophomore at ESD, said. “It’s been a great joy to work alongside Mr. Lopez as we see his dreams become a reality.”

At Saturday’s dedication ceremony, several gifts were presented to the family, including a toolkit, four basketballs for Lopez’s sons, a Bible, and a set of house keys. A loaf of bread and bottle of wine were also given to the Lopez family to symbolize the “many happy meals to be shared together in the home,” and “to celebrate the joy in [their] lives.”

Service to others is one of ESD’s Founding Tenets, and has led to several local, national, and international partnerships with charitable organizations. The School’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity started eight years ago when Middle School students built flower boxes at Wolf Run. Primer students then gathered in the Quarry and filled the hand-made boxes with colorful flowers to present to new Habitat for Humanity homeowners. That tradition continues today in conjunction with the build.

“ESD became more involved in helping the organization by providing the funding for the house through a donation from the Casey family,” Laura Gomez, ESD’s Habitat for Humanity coordinator, explained. “We were responsible for providing the volunteers to build the house from January thru March. Though you had to be at least 16 years old to help build, we appreciated everyone who came out to be part of this amazing opportunity.”

Lower, Middle, and Upper School students not old enough to assist in the building process still found ways to get involved. Scout troops collected supplies for and distributed snack packs to volunteers during the Saturday shifts; other groups set up water stations and lemonade stands to ensure everyone stayed hydrated. Divisions also collected household items and cleaning supplies for the Lopez family. The ESD Alumni Association will also spend a day during Founders’ Weekend this May helping the Lopez family move into their new home.

Construction on the Lopez house started in January with the ESD Booster Club, Dads’ Partnership, Alumni Association, Parents’ Association, Young Men’s Service League, and Upper School faculty and staff supplying volunteers for designated build days. Students and the rest of the community were also encouraged to spend their free Saturdays trussing, decking, roofing, and siding the home. The final weekends were spent painting the exterior and planting flowers in the front yard to prepare the house for the dedication.

“Working alongside members of the ESD community, while helping a family in need, was a truly heart-warming experience,” Meredyth Cole said. “It was very rewarding to interact with students and their families in a new setting and collaborate with them on this hands-on project. We are grateful to the Casey family and all of the volunteers who helped make the Lopez family’s dreams come true.”

To see photos from Saturday’s dedication, please click here.

Nicole Jacobsen
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ESD Botball Tournament The Episcopal School of Dallas Robotics Team received first place at the Regional Botball Tournament in Norman, Oklahoma for the second consecutive year. More than 50 teams from Texas and Oklahoma were featured in the competition held on March 15 during Spring Break. In a highly contested battle, ESD won by .002 of a point.

The Episcopal School of Dallas Robotics Team received first place at the Regional Botball Tournament in Norman, Oklahoma for the second consecutive year. More than 50 teams from Texas and Oklahoma were featured in the competition held on March 15 during Spring Break. In a highly contested battle, ESD won by .002 of a point.

Coached by Deb Goudy, Chair of ESD’s Computer Science Department, and Jerone Mitchell, a first-year Computer Science teacher at ESD, the team received first place overall and in the seeding rounds. The team also finished in a three-way tie for first place in the documentation round, and fourth place in the double-elimination rounds.

“There is a Texas regional tournament, but we come to Oklahoma’s because it’s the best one,” Goudy said in an interview with The Oklahoman. “It’s well organized and has the toughest competitors. We tell our kids if you want to be the best you have to compete with the best.”

Botball team members at the event included: Oscar Bautista ’15Renner Brown ’15Paul Cahoon ’15Byars Crowe ’17Alexander Eggers ’15Grant Hemingway ’17Liam Herrick ’15Tommy Hessel ’17Evan Marshall ’16Natalie Monger ’15Armon Naeini ’15Brett Neurohr ’15Pedro Rivera ’16Bennett Sessa ’16Matthew Sims ’17Isaac Swift ’17Kohl Swift ’16, and Christian Viracola ’17. Junior Roger Wong and freshman Sam Carrell are also members of ESD’s Robotics Team, but were unable to attend the competition.

The tournament, now in its 17th year, gives middle and high school teams approximately three months to design and program their robots to meet a variety of specifications. ESD’s robot was built from a modified Roomba vacuum and was required to perform all tasks autonomously, meaning the robot had to “think” through the challenges based on programming students coded in the days and weeks leading up to the challenge.

The team will travel to California in July to compete in the International Botball Tournament and Global Conference on Educational Robotics at the University of Southern California.

Nicole Jacobsen
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Every winter, the Upper School students of the Episcopal School of Dallas showcase their artistic writing, acting, and film editing skills in honor of Shakespeare Week. This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the event during which English classes foster discussions about the famous Bard of Avon's themes and character development, as well as writing style, while film students busy themselves with creating modern-day versions of Much Ado About Nothing

"Shakespeare week offers students the opportunity to work collaboratively or independently to showcase their creativity as they confront the question of Shakespeare's relevance in contemporary society," Jennifer Meyers, Chair of ESD's English Department, said. "The clear message we see from the meaningful projects ESD students generate is just how Shakespeare lends to the timeless themes of love, loyalty, revenge, jealousy, betrayal,redemption, and particularly self-reflection as these are the issues our students themselves encounter."

This year’s film contest features more than a dozen works from student actors, screenwriters, cinematographers, producers, and editors. The winning film, announced in chapel on Thursday, March 6 was The Wolf of Messina by Eric Stern '14

Other notable films included:

  • 2nd Place: Much Ado About Something: A Real Life Story by Kelly Eichenholz '14and Elise Waller '14
  • 3rd Place: Hoodwink, A Music Mash-Up by Katherine Hunsaker '14 and Sidney Sikes '14
  • Honorable Mention: Shakespearean Hustle by Cal Etcheverry '17

"Shakespeare Week is so much fun for the students because he hits right on the issues in relationships," Suzette Carona, ESD's Film Studies tracher, said. "Those problems have not changed over the years. The kids love bringing him to life in film, art, music, and drama."

Shakespeare Week started in 1982 when a group of English teachers gathered the ESD community together for a public reading of Macbeth. Since then, the celebration has evolved to include artistic renderings, dramatic and humorous soliloquies, social media websites, and baking demonstrations from the Shakespearian era. Every year, the Upper School students collectively study one play, so the curriculum is always rotating and evolving.

“The culmination of ESD's annual Shakespeare Week features the entire Upper School student body finding ways to creatively respond to Much Ado About Nothing,” Christine Nicolette-Gonzalez, ESD Upper School English teacher, said. “From film, to song, dance and visual performance, and written art, each student is given the opportunity to share his/her unique creative voice.”

Nicole Jacobsen
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ESD Reading In Tents A student reads in her tent during "Favorite Book Week" at the Episcopal School of Dallas.

In celebration of Dr. Seuss’s 110th birthday, students all across America are participating in the National Education Association’s 17th annual “Read Across America” program. The Lower School at the Episcopal School of Dallas added their own twist to the program, and have dubbed the week of February 24 – 28 “Favorite Book Week,” a yearly ESD tradition.

Every day this week, Beginner students through fourth graders have been gathering in the library for “in-tent reading” activities around a campfire. After selecting their favorite book from the shelf, students pair up, huddle into their tents, click on their flashlights, and immerse themselves in the colorful pages of popular children’s stories. To complete the picture the Lower School librarians, Bonnie Tollefson and Linda Van Der Kar created a starry sky to decorate the library’s ceiling, and a CD of forest sounds plays for the students to listen to while they read to simulate camping in the woods.

“Our educational goal with this week is to build reading memories for the children that they will reflect upon years from now,” Tollefson said. “On Thursday, several eighth grade students were on campus and stopped by the library to tell me how excited they were to be back on the Lower School campus and how much they enjoyed reading in the tents. It is definitely an activity that students cherish long after they have left this campus.”

Each class celebrated Dr. Seuss’s legacy through a variety of arts and crafts and discussions. The younger students painted Cat in the Hat decorations to hang on the wall, while the older students wrote reports on their favorite books and took turns presenting their thoughts to their peers. Every class also made bulletin boards showcasing their favorite books and authors. The teachers joined in the fun and are wearing buttons all week with a photo of their favorite children’s book.

“The buttons open a dialogue between teachers, students, and parents about how the books in our library are tied to special memories we have about our own childhoods, and or teaching experiences,” Allison Hogan, ESD’s Primer teacher said.

Throughout the week, Lower School teachers submitted their favorite books and reading recommendations to share on ESD’s Pinterest page. Parents can visit the page to learn about new titles for their students, many of which can be downloaded from the library’s OverDrive catalogue of online books.

To share and to spread their love of reading, fourth grade students are also hosting a book drive for children at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. All of the books collected help support the Legacy Scholarship Program that provides scholarships for former patients of Texas Scottish Rite. If you wish to donate new or gently used children, youth, adult fiction, nonfiction, or even cookbooks to the drive, please drop the books off in the fourth grade hall by Monday, March 3.

Nicole Jacobsen
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In honor of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, the Lower School students, faculty, and staff of the Episcopal School of Dallas participated in a special chapel service on Monday, February 10, to honor the countries and athletes competing in the 22nd winter games. This decades-long tradition at the Lower School was especially memorable this year, as two former Olympians attended the event to share their experiences with the students, and show off some of their Olympic memorabilia.

Janine Bowman from the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and Dave Clark from the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome led the procession, followed by fourth-grade students Courteney Sands presenting a real Olympic torch and Cash Whiteman carrying the U.S. flag.

“Getting to carry a flag in the Opening Ceremony was really special for my last year at the Lower School,” one fourth grade student said. “But getting to carry the flag behind two Olympians made it an experience I will never forget.” 

After the ceremony, students gathered in the gymnasium to ask Bowman and Clark some questions about their training regimens, and experiences competing on a global stage.

“I was just excited to see them at our school and to see the medals, but to actually ask them about their sports and what it takes to be a U.S. Olympic athlete was really cool,” another flag-bearer said. “Their answers really inspired me to always try my hardest and to remember that nothing is impossible.”

This year, additional academic activities were made possible, in part, by an ESD Learning Innovation Grant that encourages and supports initiatives that blend wellness and physical activity with culture and education. Earlier in the year, students and teachers started brainstorming ideas that dovetailed their curricular goals, including historical and cultural research, sports statistics, and forming global connections.

The integration of history, culture, and wellness surrounding the Olympics Games and the participating countries has been a staple of the Lower School curriculum for decades. This year's study also promotes science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. Through ESD faculty collaboration with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, math- and science-based hands-on learning and research projects are interwoven.

Beginners made Olympic ring artwork and their own paper torches to carry during the Opening Ceremonies. In kindergarten, students researched the history of the Olympics, ranging from traditions and history, to what a visit to Sochi would entail. The first-grade classes, after reading Mary Pope Osborne’s, Hour of the Olympics, researched the difference between today’s games and the original events that was later turned into an interactive iBook. The first grade classes have also been tweeting with Thomas White, a member of the U.S. bobsled team.

Second grade students participated in a video conference with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science to discuss how STEM applies to the games. Third grade classes worked together to form trivia questions about the Olympics to broadcast over the school’s intercom system to count down to the start of the games, and fourth grade learned how geometry plays into hockey techniques, and what the scientific and mathematical differences are between hockey and figure skating skates.

In Physical Education classes, third and fourth grade students joined together as "countries" to create flags, make team uniforms, and engineer their own equipment, while also training for makeshift competitions that include modified biathlons, cross country skiing, bobsledding, hockey, and figure skating.

"One division-wide curricular goal in this study is to ensure that students understand they are enmeshed in a world of global relationships," Chelle Wabrek, Assistant Head of Lower School said. "In an effort to examine this inter-relational web, families have helped bring the location of the games to life, including sharing cultural items from trips to Russia, as well as folklore, food, and family stories."

To see photos from the event, please click here.

Nicole Jacobsen
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ESD Mixed Media Artwork

Not just any painting would do. The art that would serve as the centerpiece over the fireplace in the Episcopal School of Dallas Study Commons needed to be one-of-a-kind. It would also need to encompass not only the School’s Episcopal identity, but also represent ESD’s diverse and pluralistic community. Charlotte Blaine, the ESD employee tasked with decorating the space, thought it essential members of the student body create the piece.

“Ms. Blaine asked us to create something that embodies the entire school… something that everyone could connect with,” Kathleen Raymond, one of ESD’s Fine Arts teachers, and facilitator of the project, said. “Our process was ‘artwork by committee.’ The imagery came from the freshmen and senior art students, and then everyone from the community was invited to add a prayer.”

Middle and Upper School students met over the course of several weeks to decide what kind of artwork would adorn the Study Commons, and choose which images would be used to capture the essence of the School. The group, led by senior Jenkins Bender and freshman Grant Hemingway, settled on a mixed media piece that would involve using metal spoons and solvent to transfer-print images of All Saints Chapel and an eagle onto a custom canvas.

“It was really important to us that the entire ESD community be invited to participate in the making of the print,” Bender said.

With the creative process underway, a group of students turned their focus to collecting handwritten prayers from their peers and teachers to transfer onto the canvas. Requests of different faiths and languages flooded in, as students worked together to arrange the phrases and uplifting words around the campus imagery.

“It really did take a village to get this project completed,” Raymond said. “Everyone was able to add their own special touch to the artwork.”

Bender agreed, saying “it was all of the hands that touched this piece that make it so special. Watching the different classes and divisions interact and write their personal prayers on the canvas added a sentimental value.”

When the images were pressed and dried, and the prayers meticulously placed to frame All Saints Chapel and the eagle, the words “faith,” “hope,” and “love” were printed larger and bolder than anything else. The size of each component directly represents the hearth and warmth of the School.

Hemingway, who pitched the idea of including an eagle in the piece, said he drew his inspiration from a statue he saw in Greg Randall’s classroom.

“To have the eagle be seen flying over All Saints Chapel shows that we as a community are one with God,” Hemingway said. “When people see the piece, I hope they will reflect on ESD as being a place where everyone is accepted.”

To see more photos of the creative process, please click here.

Nicole Jacobsen
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Students present their Shooting Star project to a group of their peers at ESD's first Invention Convention.

Thomas Edison invented the light bulb; Marie Curie helped pave the way for the development of X-rays; and László Bíró created the ballpoint pen. Over the years, researchers have collaborated to not only improve these inventions, but also sustain an environment that fosters creative thinking. These individuals not only changed our world, but also greatly influenced generations of inventors, including the Episcopal School of Dallas’ first Invention Convention.

Fourth graders spent the month of November studying some of the world’s most influential inventors. Then, they collaborated with peers to create their own inventions. Classes as a whole brainstormed different problems that needed solving, and worked together to develop potential solutions to fill the voids. Students also pondered how inventions could emerge from combining two existing items.

“Invention Convention encourages our students to dream about ways to improve our world, and then formulate a solution to these problems,” Sandy Kerr, Head of Lower School, said. “The project gave our students the perfect opportunity to celebrate the design and entrepreneurial spirit that is alive in our classrooms.”

Brenda Wilder, one of ESD’s fourth grade teachers explained that after students had the initial idea for their invention, they had to fill out a “Student Patent Application” that included a sketch and explanation of how their creation works. If their product was approved, they were administered a patent number and could proceed with creating a tri-fold board displaying their complete business plan, including product and consumer information.

“Students were expected to come up with a creative name for their invention, a name for their company, the price, and where it could be purchased,” Wilder said. “Some students even created slogans and jingles for their item.”

Once complete, the students became the teachers and were divided into pairs to brainstorm, research, create, and present their projects to a cafeteria full of students, teachers, and parents. Some students used iPads to create short movies about the research and development phase of their project. Others gave short presentations that educated their peers about the fourth grade scientific method and their invention process. The whole project, which taught students how to navigate and evaluate various fields of information, while combining collaboration, creative thinking, creativity, communication, and strength of character, allowed the students to showcase their hobbies and interests.

Two girls invented the “Calm Ball,” a lavender-infused chew toy to give to pets when the doorbell rings.  Another group created “Funjamas,” or pajamas that can be colored on with markers… perfect for sleepovers. Students Taylor Elliott and Jackson Morash invented the Shooting Star, a brownie complete with chocolate cake, a churro, and more toppings and dipping sauces than one needs to make a banana split.

“We learned that it really takes time to develop an idea and get it approved,” Taylor Elliott explained. “We learned that the first idea doesn’t often work, but if you team up with others and keep bringing different ideas together, eventually you will be successful.”

The idea for the Shooting Star came from wanting to combine their favorite foods into one snack. As part of their presentation, the boys made an iMovie detailing the creative process, as well as an explanation of how the brownie is made and how different flavors can be combined.

“We called it a Shooting Star because when you put everything together, all the ingredients shoot out of the brownie like a star,” Morash said.

“It was wonderful to see the ownership and independence the students showed during this whole process,” Ashley Jarol, another fourth-grade teacher, said. “The students were engaged, focused, confident, and excited. Invention Convention is a great addition to our curriculum.”

Nicole Jacobsen
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Sir Robinson ESD.jpeg ESD students pose outside of SMU's Dallas Hall upon hearing the Tate Lecture A-and-A session featuring Sir Ken Robinson.

“Walk towards the things that scare you,” suggested Sir Ken Robinson, internationally renowned leader in education reformation, addressing a crowd of students and teachers at Southern Methodist University’s Tate Lecture Series. More than a dozen Upper School students and ESD faculty members had the privilege to attend the moderated Q-and-A session on Tuesday, November 19.

When discussing education in America, Robinson asserted that teachers need to provide students with “rigor and discipline, as well as opportunity,” so that students can “find what they are good at.” He argued that as a result of such inquiry, creativity, and discovery, students “are more fulfilled and feel a greater sense of purpose.” Education’s ultimate purpose, according to Robinson, is “not to fill an empty mind but to create an open one” by personalizing a student’s educational experience.

“Robinson expressed the importance of creativity for our society and even for the survival of our species,” Cal Etcheverry, a freshman at ESD, said. “Influencing creativity helps students find their own personal talents and skills so they can strive to achieve them. Robinson’s ideas about personalization and encouraging creativity in school honestly reminded me of ESD.”

“I appreciated that Sir Robinson approached the topic of our education system, which sounds pretty dry, with humor and meaning,” Emily Barnes ’14, said. “The biggest thing he said that stood out to me was that we need a revolution in education, not just reform. His ideas really made me think about the way our society views learning and school–we take for granted that the system works well, but in reality there is so much more potential in education than we realize.”

Robinson inspired and challenged not only the students, but also the teachers. He suggested to faculty, “How you work with students is their education. The only thing that truly changes education is great teachers.”

Tolly Salz, Upper School English teacher, said, “At ESD, teachers take that suggestion to heart, striving to create a culture and climate where students have a sense of autonomy and ownership while exploring ideas in community — focusing perhaps not on only one predetermined destination, but rather on discovering various avenues of learning with others along the way.”

Nicole Jacobsen
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The Competition Gym at the Episcopal School of Dallas was buzzing with students and parents at the first “Snack Sack” presentation on Thursday, November 7. Having been divided into groups of four or five, students were responsible for researching and assembling nutritional snacks to donate to students at the St. Simon’s After School Program at Stephen C. Foster Elementary. The students then explained their selections to their parents on hand-made poster boards.

“We learned that some students have access to food, but it might not be healthy food,” Sumner Wooldridge explained. “These snack sacks provide alternatives and they also taste good. We were sad to learn that healthier food is more expensive than non-healthy food, so we’re really grateful to see these bags will help.”

The idea for students to research and work together to organize and donate the snack sacks was sparked by fifth grade math teacher Jill Simpson, who heard about the idea while attending a project-based learning conference in Toronto that encouraged school collaboration. Upon returning to ESD, Simpson teamed up with ESD’s Director of Community Service, Christi Morrow.

Through ESD’s Learning Innovation Grant program, Morrow and Simpson worked over the summer to develop an integrated learning unit that would not only sharpen students’ math skills, but also make them more aware of hunger issues and food insecurity challenges in North Texas and identify how they can help.

“I decided to tie it in with my decimals study,” Simpson explained. “It was too easy to just make the students quantify the costs of the boxes, so we made them discover snacks that have no more than 400 calories per serving, and put together a sack that falls within a budget. Students also used iPads to find food alternatives and nutritional values.”

The snacks had to come in sealed wrappers, and fit within a certain price range. Students were allowed to choose from their favorite foods, or research ideas on iPads and package labels.

“The math part of the project was really fun, but challenging, because we had to use the total calories in a box of snacks and divide it by the serving size,” student John Stallings said. “We could use the iPads to look at to help us find the numbers to start with, and then we worked together to come up with a solution that met the project’s requirements.”

The students receiving the snack sacks are not food deprived, but “food insecure,” meaning that while they are provided breakfast and lunch at school, they are not promised a dinner. The snack sacks will provide nutrition for students after the school day, and help ensure they have a wholesome snack during the weekend.

“This project was just one of several steps we’re taking to help raise student awareness about hunger insecurities in North Texas,” Morrow explained. “In December, these same students will deliver the food they collected to the North Texas Food Bank, see how the food is distributed, and learn how their actions are making a real-world difference.”

To see photos from the presentation day, please click here.

Nicole Jacobsen
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Congratulations to four ESD seniors for committing to play Division I athletics at the collegiate level. Jack Beare, Foster Huggins, and Richie Loftus have all committed to play lacrosse. Corey Henderson Jr. will join the Wichita State men’s basketball team in the fall. To see the list of area student athletes from The Dallas Morning News, please click here.

Jack Beare ’14, a four year member of ESD’s varsity lacrosse team, has committed to play lacrosse for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Also a member of the Iron Horse and Adrenaline Tropics Lacrosse Clubs, Beare recorded 69 points on 53 goals and 16 assists his junior year at ESD. In three seasons, the 5-foot-10 attacker has contributed a total of 186 points on 133 goals and 53 assists. Beare was an All-Star selection at the 2013 Baltimore Summer Kick-Off session and invited to participate at the Jake Reed Nike Blue Chip Rising Senior camp. Beare has also played football and soccer for ESD. In early October, Beare was ranked as the No.25 player on the 2014 Player Rankings for the Midwest Top 25 region, and the No.8 player in the state of Texas.

Foster Huggins ’14, another four year member of the ESD varsity lacrosse team, will be joining Loyola University of Maryland in the fall, the defending Division I national champion. Also a member of the Tri-State and C2C clubs, the ESD honor roll student has been recognized as the School’s Freshman Athlete of the Year, a Philly Showcase Fab-40 All-Star, UNC Team Camp All-Star, and Outstanding Athlete at the Tri-State Nationals and Princeton Team Camp. Huggins has also lettered in football and wrestling. In early October, Huggins was ranked as the No.11 player on the 2014 Player Rankings for the Midwest Top 25 region; he was also ranked as the leading defender in the state of Texas.

Richie Loftus ’14, a four year member of the ESD varsity lacrosse team, signed with Dartmouth for the 2014 season. Loftus, who scored the game winning goal against Jesuit in the state semifinal game, was named Division I Offensive MVP for his performance in the 2013 state lacrosse championships. A member of the C2C club, Loftus also plays football and soccer for ESD. In early October, Huggins was ranked as the No.17 player on the 2014 Player Rankings for the Midwest Top 25 region, and No.5 in the state.

Corey Henderson Jr. ’14 signed with the Wichita State Shockers on Wednesday, November 13. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard averaged 14 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds last season, earning him all-district and All-SPC honors. The three-star prospect also played for the Dallas Mustang’s 16U Blue Team. Wichita State, who was a Final Four qualifier in last year’s NCAA tournament, has qualified for the post season two of the last three years.