December 20, 2019
Runnels has always been the school for all races, religions, and national origins.
On behalf of the entire faculty and staff, I wish you and your family a joyous holiday season and a healthful, peaceful, and very Happy New Year! I also want to again extend my deepest gratitude to everyone who has supported our school by enrolling early, inviting other parents to consider a Runnels education for their children, and contributing to our High School Support Fund. Early enrollment continues through Feb. 1. If you have not yet re-enrolled, I urge you to complete the re-enrollment process as soon as you possibly can.

Warm Wishes for a Happy Holiday
and Joyous New Year!

In Focus this week: Sound of Music Cast Announced; Ochsner Holiday Card Contest Winner; Third Grade Cajun Holiday STEM Challenge; District Honor Band Recruits from Runnels; Lower Elementary Robotics Club Snow Plows; Preschool Hunt for Gingerbread Boys; Kudos and Notable Events; We Sincerely Thank; Weekly Photo Album; Athletic Corner; Friendly Reminders

Correction: Emma Felton, grade 8, is a member of the 2019 Louisiana Youth Orchestra. Her name was inadvertently left off the list of members in an article about LYO in last week's issue of the Friday Focus . We congratulate Emma on this accomplishment and apologize for the error.
The Sound of Music Cast Announced!

One of the most beloved musicals of all time, Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music, will be presented by the Runnels Theatre Department Feb. 14 and 15 at 7:00 p.m. in the Gladys Hague Runnels Theatre.

Leading the cast are juniors Sophie Edwards as Maria, Evan Beoubay as Captain Von Trapp, and sophomore Abby Robbins as the Mother Abbess. Also featured are junior Mollybeth Wilkinson as Elsa Schraeder, freshman Eli Latiolais as Max Detweiler, Sophia Horridge, also a freshman, as Liesl, and senior Jacques Desporte as Rolf Gruber.

Sonya Blanchard will direct and choreograph the show, with musical direction provided by Elizabeth Olah. Kendall Krebsbach is the stage director, and seniors Karli Hebert and Jane Schlotterer are her assistants.

Tickets will be available online after Jan. 6 at

(Photo: Sophie Edwards and Evan Beoubay)

Celebrating Artistic Success

Congratulations to fourth grade artist Lauren Wheeler for being named a winner in the 2019 Ochsner Holiday Card Contest. As one of four school winners, Lauren was presented with a cookie cake to share and an art kit to help encourage her interest in drawing by Ochsner's Heidi Howat Wendt at school on Tuesday

Schools participating in the contest were Zachary Elementary, Grey's Creek Elementary in Denham Springs, St. George Elementary, and Runnels. This year, more than 400 entries were submitted.

(Photo: Lauren Wheeler and Ochsner Community Outreach Project Manager Heidi Howat Wendt.)
Photo: With science teacher Candice Ortlieb at his side, third grader Luke Calhoun guides his group's model pirogue down the green "bayou" made from PVC pipe to deliver the Cajun cornbread boy on board to safety. Students designed the "bayou" and built their pirogues from recycled materials.
'Tis the Season for Third-Grade Cajun STEM Challenge Day and Fais Do-Do

Runnels third graders celebrated the season and our unique South Louisiana culture with a Cajun Style STEM Challenge Day in the Drama Room this week. They took on two engineering challenges inspired by a recent reading of The Cajun Cornbread Boy by Louisiana author Dianne de Las Casas.

For the first challenge, students were told the Cajun cornbread boy needed a ride down the bayou to escape swamp creatures who wanted to eat him. To come to his rescue, they worked in teams using the engineering design process to come up with a model bayou and seaworthy pirogues. They called on Runnels dad Brandt Ray of Ferguson Enterprises to construct the model bayou from PVC pipe after providing him with design parameters, a drawing, and a cardboard prototype. They built the pirogues from only recycled materials. On STEM Challenge Day, all the boats and cornbread boys made it down the 10-foot long PVC pipe "bayou" safely.

The second problem-solving challenge required students to help the cornbread boy travel across the marshy southern Louisiana woods to the safety of his Acadian cabin (which the students built and customized using recycled items). Using Ozobots -- tiny robots with light sensors -- students applied coding skills they learned this semester to maneuver the cornbread boy (an Ozobot in this challenge) from a starting point on a board through an obstacle course of holiday related objects to the sanctuary of his cabin.

They concluded the successful event with a festive fais do-do that involved dancing the Cajun Two-Step, eating ginger cookies, and drinking Yahoo! The students extend their thanks once again to Mr. Ray for his assistance with the PVC part of the project.

(Photo: Kellen Phillippe and Emmett Murphy collaborate on coding their Cajun cornbread boy Ozobot so he can get home to his Acadian style cabin.)

Runnels Students Picked for District Honor Band

Congratulations to the seven Runnels students named to the District Honor Band. They competed against student musicians from nine parishes to earn their spots.

Selected for the Symphonic Band were Luke Hillman, 2nd chair trumpet, and Tate Smith, 3rd chair trombone.

Chosen for the Concert Band were Evan Beoubay, 3rd chair clarinet; Alyssa Oubre, 3rd chair trumpet; Hope Oubre, 8th chair trumpet; Harrison Whittemore, 8th chair trombone; and Reagan Kyle, 9th chair trumpet. District Honor Band concerts will be held Jan. 18 at the Columbia Theater in downtown Hammond.

(Photo: Luke Hillman will play 2nd chair trumpet in the Symphonic District Honor Band.)
"I Built a Robotic Snow Plow!"

Our youngest robotics team members recently took on a real-world engineering challenge -- designing and building robots to complete a task! In this case the job was snow removal, and the bots they built were desktop snow plows. Give yourself a treat and watch the video as these engaging youngsters describe their inventions and show you what they can do!

Featured in the video are FIRST LEGO League Jr. members Mark Calhoun, Archer Carkuff, George Etheridge, Ryan Healey, Kael Johnson, Abram McCann, Henry McCarney, Robbie Roton, Birdie Ward, and Chase Welcher. The narrator, filmmaker and director is club co-sponsor Nicole Roton. The club is open to students in grades K-3.

(Photo: George Etheridge and the snow plow his robotics team built.)

Social Media Savvy for Students

Runnels mom Ann Vail, Executive Director of Louisiana Clean Fuels, is going to share her expertise on marketing, promotion, and social media campaigns with students. It's a great opportunity to learn valuable job skills and help Runnels by working on real-world projects.

Interested students in grades 7-12 are invited to attend an informational meeting Thursday, January 9 at 12:00 in room 153. All interested students in grades 7-12 are welcome to attend! For more information: Feel free to reach out to Ms. Ann over the holidays.
Gingerbread Boy Sighted in Hamburg

The sights and sounds of the holidays were everywhere on the preschool campus this month. Students had fun making reindeer pictures, using dots to make the letters of their names and assembling them into snowmen, and hunting for runaway gingerbread boys.

After reading The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett, the 3s decorated gingerbread cookies, which their teacher, Sarah Sheikha, pretended to bake. "When I went to take the cookies out of the oven, they 'ran away,'" she told the children. The class combed the campus for a sign of the gingerbread cookies but all they found was a trail of sprinkles.

To dial up the excitement, the students' extended families participated by sending letters and postcards to preschool claiming they'd spotted the cookies in faraway places. One correspondent said he'd seen them "eating pretzels" in Hamburg, Germany; another caught a glimpse of the gingerbread boys "taking a ride on the London Eye." Ms. Sarah read the letters to the children and used a world map to point out the locations of the sightings. To lure the vagabond cookies home, Ms. Sarah made them a gorgeous gingerbread house. The cookies finally came back to campus and the students finally got to eat them.

( Photo: Preschool 3s on the hunt for gingerbread boys.)
Kudos and Notable Events
Holiday Fashion Moment ... Congrats to senior Julia Sager for winning first place in the junior and senior high school's "Tacky Holiday Sweater Contest" on Monday. Senior Jacques Desporte took home the second place award and freshman Beau Blanchard came in third. They were presented with gift cards in the amounts of $30, $20, and $10, respectively. Kudos to the students and teachers who came to school in sweaters that day despite the balmy weather.
(Photo: Julia Sager models her award-winning Hanukkah sweater.)
Cuddly Canines ... Five fuzzy, four-legged friends from Bark and Roll Rescue Companions stopped by the main campus this week to offer cuddles and kisses to junior and senior high students between mid-term exams. We sincerely thank Runnels mom Dana Kahn and her daughter Lauren Kahn (Class of '15) for bringing these sweet and gentle rescue pups to school for our students to enjoy. (Photo: Dance teacher Rachel Harper and 7th grader Gibby Guay meet Poppy the bulldog, a rescue now owned by Lauren Kahn.)
Two for Tea ... Students paused for tea this week in Catherine Barger's 2nd-grade social studies classes while learning about the 13 Colonies and the Boston Tea Party. They sampled a variety of English teas and munched on biscuits while discussing the significance of the historical event in our nation's quest for freedom. (Photo: Making a toast with their teacups are 2nd graders, from left, Madeleine Roubique and Laney Wingate.)
In Step ... Congratulations to our elementary dance students! At Dance Watch Day on Dec. 17, they very capably demonstrated some of the steps, movements, and dances they have been learning this semester in their ballet, jazz and tap classes for their parents. ( Photo: Striking a pose in the dance studio are, from left, elementary students Drew Hairford, Emily Khalil, Lizzie Castille, Kelly Messenger, and Madelyn Sandifer.)
Cast in A Christmas Carol ... Congratulations to the following members of our school community for appearing in Theatre Baton Rouge's production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol this month: Allyson Guay, Gibby Guay, grade 7, Harper Guay, grade 5, Alexander Hayden,grade 5, Emma Hazel Wingate, grade 4, and Laney Wingate, grade 2.
We Sincerely Thank ...
Toys for Tots Donations ... A super-sized thank you goes to everyone who donated to the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots drive at Runnels this year. Staff Sgt. Mike Smego was on campus Monday to pick up our overflowing donation boxes. All of the toys will be given to needy children in our area over the holidays. Special thanks goes to elementary secretary Pamela Culp for organizing the drive.

(Photo: With Staff Sgt. Mike Smego, who is at Runnels to pick up the Toys for Tots collection bins, are, from left, Karmyn Jackson, elementary secretary Pamela Culp, Archer Carkuff and Easton McCants.)

Spirit Banner Maker ... We sincerely thank Jr./Sr. High Nurse Karen Rhinehart for making our spirit banners again this year. They will be decorated by class officers and put on display during Homecoming Spirit Week in January.

S'more PAR Snacks ... Many thanks to the Parent Association of Runnels (PAR) volunteers for providing a holiday snack of S'mores to our students this week. On campus to serve up the treat were Patty LeBlanc, Julie Tinsley, Julie Vagi, Amanda Albin, Haleigh Wingate, Stacey Corder, Rachel Stewart, Darlene Rostow, Raina Ismail, Wendy Dolan, David Latona, and Rebecca Todaro. Special thanks go to Wendy Dolan for handling snack distribution in the junior and senior high and Rachel Stewart who coordinated things on the elementary school side.

Painting and Pinot Fundraiser ... We send our grateful thanks to preschool teacher Violet Tremblay , owner of Painting and Pinot for holding a fundraiser for the High School Support Fund on Tuesday night. The well attended event at the popular venue raised over $700 for our school.

Jr. Beta Nursing Home Visit ... Members of the Jr. Beta Club made a special trip to Flannery Oaks Nursing Home last Friday after to school to share holiday cheer. The students played instrumental music, sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and gave presents to those in attendance.

Santa's Brother-in-Law Makes Stop in Kindergarten ... A holly-jolly thank you goes to Runnels dad David Latona for visiting the kindergarten (posing as the brother of Mrs. Claus because he couldn't find a Santa suit) to read holiday stories to the youngsters. We also thank kindergarten mom Galia Betech for teaching the kindergartners how to play the dreidel game.
In this week's photo album: Second Grade Tea Party, Toys for Tots, Kindergartners Play Holiday Games from Around the World, Elementary Dance Watch Day, Sixth Graders Read Stories to Kindergarten Buddies, Jr./Sr. High Tacky Sweater Contest, Jr. Beta at Flannery Oaks Nursing Home, 3rd Grade Cajun STEM Challenge, Exam Dogs, 6th Grade Digital Breakout Boxes, Hibernation Day in First and Third Grades, Preschool, and Candids.

( Photo: Wearing their PJs for Hibernation Day are a group of first graders with elementary teacher Julie Stevenson.)
Athletic Corner
G et your winter spirit apparel at the Booster Club's Spirit Store!
Friendly Reminders
Dec. 21 / Book Signing / Barnes & Noble at Perkins Rowe, 3:00 p.m., Runnels art teacher and illustrator Lee Brandt Randall will present her newest children's book, Thibodeaux Turtle and Boudreaux Bunny, The Tortoise and the Hare with a Louisiana Twist . She'll have new puppets and songs!

Jan. 6 - / School Resumes

Jan. 10 / Fifth-Grade D.A.R.E. Graduation / Theatre, 12:45 p.m.
Jan. 20 / Martin Luther King Day - School Holiday
Jan. 23 / Book Signing and Read-Aloud / Art teacher and illustrator Lee Brandt Randall will read her latest children's book, Thibodeaux Turtle and Boudreaux Bunny, the Tortoise and the Hare with a Louisiana Twist, Elementary Library, 1:00 p.m. 
Jan. 24 / Junior Beta Induction Ceremony / Theatre, 11:00 a.m.
Jan. 27-31 / Homecoming Spirit Week 
Jan. 27 / Jr./Sr. High PAR Snack / Plaza Area, 11:50 a.m.
Jan. 27 / Homecoming Pep Rally / Catalano Gym, 2:10 p.m.
Jan. 31 / Homecoming Court Presentation / Theatre, 2:10 p.m.
Jan. 31 / Homecoming Game and Court Presentation / Catalano Gym, 7:00 p.m.