August 17, 2018
Runnels has always been the school for all races, religions, and national origins.
 Welcome to the 53rd year of school at Runnels and the lead-off issue of the 2018-2019 Friday Focus, our weekly e-newsletter. All signs point to another dynamic and productive school year, and we're delighted that you have chosen to be part of our wonderful learning community.

In this week's Focus : What's New at School?; Thespian Club Pays It Forward; Teachers Crack the Books, Teachers Extend Know-How; Spirited Start to the School Year; Senior Attains Rank of Eagle Scout; Elementary Poems Make the Cut; Notable Events; Thank Yous; Friendly Reminders; Weekly Photo Album; and Athletic Corner.
Seniors Watch Sun Rise Together on First Day of School
The school year literally began at the crack of dawn for the senior class at Runnels High School. The students arrived on campus by 6:30 a.m. to watch the sun come up together as a class to commemorate the first day of their final year of high school. In May, they’ll gather on the evening on their last day of high school for a “Senior Sunset” program.
Joining the seniors for this second annual “Senior Sunrise” were Assistant Head of School and Junior and Senior High Principal Conchetta Foshee, Vice Principal Rita Haik, and Assistant Principals Pamela Babcock and Dana Schlotterer.
“'Senior Sunrise’ is becoming a valuable tradition at our school,” said Mrs. Schlotterer. “It’s the first thing the seniors do as a unit so it helps bring them closer together as a class. It also builds school spirit.”
In addition to greeting the dawn and reconnecting with classmates, the festivities included a picnic style breakfast of burritos, muffins, and fruit provided by the senior class sponsors, Christine Pousson and Amy Taliaferro. Seniors also enjoyed taking commemorative photos with beachy props, sidewalk writing, and a game or two of bean bag toss.
Nearly the entire senior class of 50 was able to attend the exciting event. 

What's New on Campus?
When students arrived for the first day of school on Monday, they were greeted by big smiles and warm hugs from friends and faculty. Everyone was excited to start the new year in classrooms that had been refreshed, repainted, and imaginatively redecorated during the summer.

Welcoming students and faculty to the main campus was a fleet of shiny new air conditioners. All units affected by the flood have now been replaced except for those in the theatre, which be installed later this year. For the project, Runnels received funds from a federal disaster assistance grant administered by FEMA with the Governor’s Office. 

Proving a popular addition to the decor in Koenig Hall is the new water bottle filler donated by last year's 6th-grade class. ( Photo: Fifth grader Madelyn Sandifer tries out the new water bottle filler.)

Thespian Club Helps Theatre Program at Hurricane Harvey School
If you waited in that long, long line to get into the Thespian Club's Haunted House at last November's Fall Fling for Raider Relief, rest assured, your time was well spent. The Thespian Club raised $1,292 with that attraction and donated it to a school in Houston impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

"We wanted to pay it forward," said Thespian Club sponsor Neena McLain. The funds went to the theatre arts department at Kingwood High School. The club received a thank you note from Kingwood that read: "Because of you, we were able to put on three main stage shows, advance to Regionals with our one-act play, and continue our tradition of offering grants to our qualifying seniors." ( Photo: 2017-18 Thespian Club. )
Teachers Boost Instructional Know-How at Summer Conferences
As lifelong learners, teachers often use the summer break to strengthen their instructional skills and extend their knowledge of subject areas by attending professional development conferences, workshops and conferences. Over the last couple of months, many faculty members took advantage of learning opportunities both far away and closer to home.

Sixteen members of our preschool faculty attended a Childhood Education Workshop sponsored by the Children's Ministry Office of Louisiana Baptists in Covington, LA on July 23. After the conference, they all went to the Tea Room. "It was a great day inspiring us all," said Preschool Co-Director Karen Runnels.

Several AP teachers attended week-long Advanced Placement Summer Institutes (APSI) at the University of Texas. In Houston for updates on teaching AP English courses were Colleen LeBlanc and Norma Marsh, who heads the junior and senior high English and social studies departments. Rhonda Tucker was also there to attend the APSI on AP Human Geography. Ramona Eberly went to the Arlington campus of UT for the APSI on AP Biology.

Head of School and Elementary Principal Marcia Mackay traveled to Orlando in July for the 2018 NAESP (National Association of Elementary School Principals) Conference, and Latin teacher Ann Ostrom took part in the American Classical League's 71st annual Summer Institute at the University of Montana

Elementary teacher Sheri Allen attended the ISTE (International Society of Technology in Education) Conference in Chicago. "I visited with other computer science teachers and got a bundle of new ideas from them to implement in my class," she said.

Athletic trainer and Jr. and Sr. High Assistant Athletic Director Marcella Babcock participated in the National Athletic Trainer's Association Annual Clinical Symposia and Expo in New Orleans in July as well as a Sports Medicine Summer School sponsored by the Baton Rouge Bone and Joint Clinic in July. Our team physicians and medical directors, Dr. Vincent Shaw and Dr. Stephen Etheredge, both presented seminars at the workshop.

(Photo: Runnels preschool teachers atrend a Child Education Workshop in Covington this summer.)
Spirited Start to the School Year
Though it's only the first week of school, the race for the coveted Jr./Sr. High Spirit Cup is heating up. With two "spirit events" already in the books, the Tacky Tourist contest and an at-home volleyball game, the senior class leads the competition, with the 7th grade snapping at its heels.

Grades compete for "spirit points" by participating in designated campus events and activities throughout the school year. The class with the highest percentage of participation earns the points assigned to the event. The winner of the Raider Cup will be announced at Raider Rally March 22. The winning grade (last year it was the 8th!) earns half a day off at school, with fun, food, and surprises.

( Photo: Fully embracing the spirit of "Tacky Tourist" day are 7th graders, from left, Ali Guerin, Emma Collette, and Reilly Wilks. )

Senior Restores Backstage Shelving in Theatre for Eagle Scout Project
Alex Morgan, a Runnels senior, recently completed the requirements to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable in American Boy Scouting. Though less than five percent of all scouts achieve this prestigious badge, there's a precedent for it in Alex's family. His great-grandfather was an Eagle and a scoutmaster, and Alex is proud to wear his scouting cap from the 1930s.

“He wore this hat at scout meetings,” said Alex, referring to his great-grandfather's prized vintage Boy Scouts of America hat ( photo ).

In the pursuit of his Eagle badge, Alex, who has been a member of Boy Scout Troop 203 for seven years, was required to earn 21 merit badges and demonstrate leadership and organizational skills by successfully completing a community service project. He decided that he wanted this project to benefit the theatre program at Runnels, which holds a special place in his heart. Since kindergarten, Alex has been involved in Runnels productions. His first show was Annie in 2007. “I wanted to do something that would give back to the theatre,” he added. After consulting Runnels K-12 Theatre Program Chair Neena McLain, he decided to build backstage shelving for props and set pieces in the Gladys Hague Runnels Theatre, replacing shelves that had been lost in the flood. ( Photo: Alex Morgan in his great-grandfather's scouting cap. )

Social Media

Runnels School has several ways of helping you stay connected.
Below, are links to our current social media platforms. If you haven't already liked or followed us, please do so. Runnels School posts are tagged with #runnelsschool or #raiderpride, so if you have trouble finding our pages, just search for our hashtags.  
Runnels Parent Organization   also known as The Parents Association of Runnels (PAR)


Runnels School  (@runnelsschool)
Also Runnels pages, but not maintained by Runnels School are:



There are also Facebook pages dedicated to your child's class for example "Class of 2021". These pages are usually private, so contact your class sponsor for access to these pages.  

If you know of any other social media sites or pages that promote our school or school events, please let us know. We would love to follow them and share them with our school community.
Notable Events
Mathodology ... Elementary teacher Beth Alfonso was in Jacksonville, FL in June to sit at the feet of Singapore Math "superstar," Yeap Ban Har at the Mathodology Summer Institute East. Singapore Math is used at Runnels in grades Pre-K-5. The program istudents rank among the highest worldwide. The experience was "absolutely amazing and inspiring," said Mrs. Alfonso, adding that the conference provided her with a fresh perspective on how to teach math. ( Photo: Elementary teacher Beth Alfonso with the "Superstar of Singapore Math, Yeap Ban Har. )

Dr. Riley ... Runnels alumnus Riley Dean (Runnels Class of 2010) is now a doctor! He graduated from McGovern Medical School - University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in May, headed for a six-year residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of San Diego in California. During his med school days, Riley coauthored seven research manuscripts and presented research at national, regional and local medical conferences.Congratulations to Riley and his parents, Dr. Andy and Collette Dean. (Photo: Dr. Riley Dean, center, with his parents, Colette and Dr. Andy Dean, on graduation day in Houston.)
Mentor Sentences ... Several elementary teachers gathered in Leah Pizzalato's courtyard classroom on July 31 for a Mentor Sentence Workshop. Mrs. Pizzalato, our 4th-grade English teacher and new co-elementary librarian, has employed Mentor Sentences to improve her students' grammar skills. She was invited by Elementary Assistant Principal Beth Golden to share this teaching method with her colleagues. ( Photo: Leah Pizzalato.)

Wings on their Heels ... The Runnels Cross-Country Team was well represented at the Nike Smoky Mountain Running Camp (SMRC) in North Carolina this summer. Cross-Country and Track and Field Head Coach Julie FInk has been on staff there for the last six years. Joining her this summer were two Runnels Cross-Country alums, Nathan Fairley (Class of '17) as Recreation Director and Jake Johnson (Class of '14) as the operator of the camp's Nike store. Other Running Raiders at camp were Dawson Latona, Sydney Worsham, Blaiklee Guillot, Ryan Roper, Mikalyn Shay, Emma Felton, Ashleigh Cooper, Annie Fink, and Micah Roper.
On Stage ... Try to catch a performance of Theatre Baton Rouge's production of Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Baton Rouge Little Theatre this weekend. Seven Runnels students are in the cast. Congratulations to Josh Freeman, Mollybeth Wilkinson, Abby Robbins, Sydney Mistretta, Connor Joubert, Harper Guay and Gibson Guay.
By the Numbers: Teachers Celebrate Career Milestones
Teachers love Runnels, and we have the numbers to prove it. At our All-School Faculty Meeting on Aug. 8 in the Gladys Hague Runnels Theatre, Head of School Marcia Mackay announced that 38 of our faculty and staff members have been at Runnels for more than 10 years.

Four teachers were recognized for completing 20 years of service. Congratulations to Leah Jordan, Jean Martinez, Christine Pousson, and Allison Wrenn. Each was presented with a lifetime pass to all productions on our main stage and in the Drama Room. ( Photo: Kindergartners get to know Miss Pam, our elementary secretary, on the first day of school. She and kindergarten director Paula Naquin, not pictured here, win the prize for being at Runnels the longest -- 37 years!)

We Sincerely Thank...
Scooter Stafford (Ben, grade 10, and Blake, Class of '09) of Stafford Custom Homes and Home Key Real Estate Group; Tex Morris (Noelle, Class of '14, Josh, Class of '13, and Claire, Class of '11) of Edward Jones ; and the Booster Club for funding the new scoring table in the gym. We also thank Booster Club officer Charles Bueche ( Collin, grade 12, and Chloe, grade 7) for facilitating the process.

Steve Hayden and Dr. Julie Martin ( Lily, grade 7, Hayden, grade 4, and Owen, 3s) for making a donation to cover the cost of 55 digital one-year subscriptions for the American History curriculum in our junior high school.

Melissa Cazeaux-Botts and Elliot Botts ( Genevieve, 3s) for donating a new sound system to the 2-year-olds' program.

Brooks Ellwood (grandfather of Gavin Foley, grade 3, and father of preschool teacher Robin Foley) for donating a Smartboard to the Pre-K math program and a bulletin board to the Pre-K art classroom.

Troy Francois (father of John Kirby, grade 5, and George, K) for making two child-size picnic tables and benches for the preschool.

Gloria Howell and Mark Howell (Danyel, grade 6, and David, grade 1); Michael Bordelon ( Ila Bordelon-Walker, Class of '18); Shasta and Dustin Felton (Emma, grade 7, and Tyler, grade 4); and preschool teacher Megan Bordelon for sprucing up the new garden area for the 2s at the preschool. We also thank Shasta and Dustin for painting the adorable picnic tables and benches made by Troy Francois.

April Wilkinson (Mollybeth, grade 10, and John Harper, grade 5) for hosting a grade 7-12 class sponsor brunch.

Madisan Milam , grade 10, for making the Instagram artwork for the bulletin board in Novak Hall.

Jared and Amber Watson ( Addison, grade 7, and Grant, grade 1) of Doyle Electric for donating LED lights to be used in various classrooms, libraries, and offices.

Scooter Stafford of Stafford Custom Homes and Home Key Real Estate Group for donating LED lights for the gym.

Friendly Reminders
Aug. 22 / Jr. and Sr. High Honor and Merit Roll Assembly, Gladys Hague Runnels Theatre, 11:20 a.m.

Aug. 25 / Jr. Beta Back-to-School Dance (for 7th and 8th graders), Catalano Gym, 7:00 p.m.

Aug. 26 / Open House for Parents of Students in Grades 1-6 , 2:00 p.m., Admissions Building (After picking up your child's schedule, proceed to his/her first class.)

Aug. 28 / Preschool 2's Parent Night , 6:30 p.m., at the Preschool

Aug. 29 / K-6 Yearbook Picture Day , Admissions Building 8:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Aug. 29 / Jr./Sr. High Club Day Assembly , Theatre, 11:20 a.m. - 12:20 a.m.

Aug. 30 / Preschool 3's Parent Night , 6:30 p.m., at the Preschool

Sept. 9 - 14 / Library Used Book Sale, in the Runnels Libraries - Sunday, 9/9 from 11 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. and Monday, 1/11 - Friday, 9/14 from 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 pm. Children's books will be available in the Elementary Library and Adult and Young Adult Books will be in the Junior and Senior High Library. All proceeds will go to the Runnels Library Program.
Runnels Recycling Brigade ... We love our 6th graders for many reasons, but one of the most outstanding is their dedication to recycling. Guided by their science teacher Julie Fink, they faithfully make their weekly rounds of all classes and offices to collect our recycling and haul it out to the large recycling bin at the rear of the campus. Many thanks to this merry band for taking on this vitally important chore.

In this week's album: First day of school, classroom candids, library candids, fire and lab safety in life science, preschool candids, 1st-grade reading, 5th-grade flag corp, 5th-grade science, 1st-grade science, elementary computer lab, and jr/sr high open house. 
Athletic Corner
Stay up-to-date with Booster Club activities by visiting its web page for upcoming events.

Senior Hannah Cassano jumps for the volley during the West Feliciana scrimmage on Wednesday, Aug. 15 at home. From left, Karli Hebert, Maddy Sutton and Caroline Henning back Cassano up.

This week, the Lady Raiders Volleyball teams played scrimmages against Ascension Christian and West Feliciana. The freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams are gearing up for an exciting season.

Volleyball Coach Jean Martinez says she has a lot of hope for the season. Martinez is working with the girls to fill the vacant spots left by graduating seniors.

Next week, the varsity will compete in Jamboree on Wednesday and junior varsity Thursday at Woodlawn High School.
Junior High Fall Sports Sign Up Deadline Approaching

The last day to sign up for junior high fall sports is Friday, Aug. 24th. This fall our coaches are offering Boys Baseball training, Boys and Girls Cross-Country, Girls Softball and Boys and Girls Swimming.

Each student athlete must have a completed physical on file to participate. The athlete will not be allowed to practice or play until the physical form is complete and the online sign up form is submitted. Please email the complete form to or bring a copy to the junior/senior high office.

If your athlete is playing more than one sport, please submit a sign up form for each sport.
On Wednesday
Varsity Volleyball Jamboree at Woodlawn - TBA

On Thursday
JV Volleyball Jamboree at Woodlawn – TBA

Email photos to
Please include the date and location of the event and the students pictured .