January 17, 2020
Runnels has always been the school for all races, religions, and national origins.

As you may or may not be aware, our Junior and Senior High Vice Principal, Rita Haik, passed away last Saturday following an eight month struggle with an aggressive form of brain cancer. We send our deepest condolences to her husband Brad and their daughters Sophie and Sarah. The "In Memoriam" to Rita in this week's Focus details some of her many contributions to our school and provides information on funeral arrangements for her.

Re-enrollment continues through Friday, Jan. 31. To avoid re-enrollment tuition expenses of up to $750 per student, please complete the re-enrollment process by then. Remember to ask your friends to consider a Runnels education for their children and invite them to tour our campus.

In Focus this week: Rita Haik - In Memoriam; Lending a Hand to the Homeless; Spring Used Book Sale Coming Up in Elementary Library; Viewing the Human Side of History; Moo Moo Goes Home; The Sound of Music Tickets Now Available; Kudos and Notable Events; We Sincerely Thank; Weekly Photo Album; Athletic Corner; Friendly Reminders.
Rita Haik - In Memoriam

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the death of our dear friend and colleague Rita Haik, who passed away last Saturday, Jan. 11. As you probably know, Rita was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer, early last summer. The tragedy of her illness and death has deeply affected us all. 

Since joining our faculty as vice principal of the junior and senior high in 2016, Rita has been a source of inspiration to students and colleagues alike. A dedicated and enthusiastic educator, she was liked and respected by all and we were fortunate to have her on our staff.

A seasoned educator, Rita taught English and served as a drama coach for many years at St. John Vianney Catholic School before joining the Runnels faculty. She held a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and later earned a master’s degree in Educational Leadership.

After coming to Runnels, Rita quickly made herself an integral member of our school family. A lifelong learner driven to expand her own skills as an educator and administrator, she gladly mentored other teachers by encouraging and supporting their professional development. 

A passionate advocate for technological innovation, curriculum development, and teamwork, Rita was instrumental in the acquisition of a 3-D printer for the junior and senior high, Adobe Cloud software and docking stations for media classes, and Membean training (online personal vocabulary development program) for students in grades 7-9. Last summer, she also championed the transformation of the junior and senior high teachers’ lounge in Novak Hall into a more functional and comfortable space.

Always professional and approachable, with a comfortable manner and inquiring mind, Rita was an asset to our school. She was loved and appreciated by her colleagues and had a positive impact on many young minds. We send our deepest sympathies to her family and loved ones.

Rita is survived by her husband Brad and their daughters Sophie and Sarah.

Visitation will be held Saturday, Feb. 1 from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. at St. Jean Vianney Catholic Church, 16166 S. Harrell’s Ferry Road in Baton Rouge. A funeral service will be held at the same location starting at 11:00 a.m. 

You can leave a message of sympathy for the family in the guestbook on a memorial page set up for Rita at Everhere.com. At Everhere.com, you can also send flowers and/or light a candle in her memory.
(Photo: Rita Haik)
Lending a Hand to Homeless

Jr. Beta Club members gathered in the Drama Room last Friday after school to work on a service project to help the homeless in our area. With the help of volunteers from the mat ministry at Faith Presbyterian Church, they were learning how to make sleeping mats from plastic grocery bags for the homeless.

To create the mats, plastic bags are cut into strips and looped together to make "plarn," a sort of plastic bag yarn. The "plarn" is then crocheted into 3 x 6 ft. mats.

Our thanks to mat making experts Bridget Lemoine, Susan Michelli, Shirley Harmon, and Margaret Baird from Faith Presbyterian for providing instruction to our Jr. Beta Club members on how to construct the mats.

(Photo: Making "plarn" from plastic grocery bags that will be woven into sleeping mats for the homeless are Jr. Beta Club members, from left, Sophia Rabeaux, Clara Huxen, Alexa LaPlace, and Morgan McCloud.)
Spring Used Book Sale Set for Elementary Library

Thanks to a generous gift from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library system, our Elementary Library has been able to schedule a second used book sale for this school year. "We received a very large donation of children's books that were being discarded by the Jones Creek Library," said Elementary Librarian Leah Pizzalato. "I believe it totaled over 50 boxes!" After sorting through the books and retaining a large number for the Elementary Library collection, there were enough left over to supply another used book sale.

The Spring Used Book Sale, which will include both adult and children's titles, will be held Sunday, Feb. 16 through Thursday, Feb. 20 in the Elementary Library. Sunday hours will be 12 - 3 p.m.; Monday through Wednesday hours will be 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.; and on Thursday, the sale will be open from 8:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Your donations of adult or children's books to the sale are welcome. Please bring any contributions to the Elementary Library during school hours.
Viewing the Human Side of HIstory

The human side of historical events was brought closer to home for some of our junior and senior high students on Wednesday when they traveled to the BREC Independence Theater for the 2020 Jewish Film Festival.

Students in grades 7, 8, and 10 along with the Human Geography AP class viewed a documentary entitled Lives Restarted: From the Holocaust to Memphis -- Stories of Courage and Resilience. The movie follows the individual journeys of Holocaust survivors seeking to restart their lives -- often alone and penniless -- in the United States after surviving the camps. After the film, students participated in a Skype discussion with the daughter of a Holocaust survivor.

Currently, some of our junior and senior high students are starting to read The Devil's Arithmetic, a young adult novel about the Holocaust by Jane Yolen, and working on essays for the annual Holocaust Essay Contest sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge.

(Photo: A group of junior and senior high students takes a break during a field trip to the BREC Independence Theater for the 2020 Jewish Film Festival.)
Moo Moo Goes Home

After mysteriously wandering onto our main campus sometime during Winter Break and setting up temporary residence on the walkway behind the elementary courtyard, Moo Moo the cat finally went back home this week.

Though the sociable little cat was quickly becoming a student favorite, we knew he needed to go home. Photos and information about his plight were posted on social media (Thank you Mrs. Mackay, Nurse Beth, and Mr. Kenny!) but nothing panned out. To help out, PR photographer Wendy Milam decided to look through old "Lost Pet" postings on the Lost Pets of Baton Rouge Facebook page and turned up a lead -- a notice about a cat that had gone missing in December, with a photo that resembled "our" cat.

Immediately, graphic artist Nicole Latiolais punched in the phone number listed on the notice, and a man answered. "Yes," their family's cat was still missing. "No," they didn't live near Runnels School, but wait a minute -- Dr. and Mrs. Runnels were their neighbors! Nicole quickly texted a photo of the cat to the man, and he confirmed that "our" cat was indeed his cat, Moo Moo.

The delighted owners rushed to campus to reclaim their fur baby. We figured that Moo Moo might have hitched a ride to campus in Dr. Runnels’ car -- maybe on the engine block. If you live in Moo Moo and Dr. Runnels' neighborhood, please remember to pound on the hood of your car before firing up the engine. Moo Moo might be aboard!

(Photo: Moo Moo the cat patrols the elementary side of the main campus.)
The Sound of Music at Runnels Feb. 14 & 15

It's time to order your tickets for The Sound of Music! Showtimes are Friday, Feb. 14 and Saturday, Feb. 15 at 7:00 p.m. in the Gladys Hague Runnels Theatre. Tickets are $12 for students and $15 for adults if purchased online and $18 for all at the door. Advance ticket sales close 12 hours before showtimes.

Kudos and Notable Events
To Your Math Stations! ... Students in Kari Calhoun's first-grade class rotated among three math stations Thursday to practice their counting and addition and subtraction skills.

They used flashcards, colorful manipulatives, and a monkey balance game to add fun to the activities. (Photo: Even "arms" on the monkey balance show first grader Aubrie Blanchard that she solved a math problem correctly.)
Starry Night Pillowcases ... The Night and Day theme at preschool last week led to a Vincent van Gogh inspired activity in Laura Russell's Pre-K art class. Students used fabric paints and crayons to color iron-on transfer sheets of van Gogh's famous painting, The Starry Night, which Mrs. Russell later ironed on to individual white pillowcases. (The artwork will be sent home in portfolios at the end of the school year.) ( Photo: From left are Juniper Malone, Rawlings Young, Sam Mayeux, and Ella Buckner.)
Multi-District Honor Orchestra ... Congratulations to the Runnels students scheduled to perform at the 2020 Multi-District Honor Orchestra Concert at Baton Rouge High School on Jan. 18 at 2:00 p.m. They are Sadie Edwards and Rebecca Ortlieb, grade 6, Isabelle Kennedy, Sarah Ortlieb, and Krina Patel, grade 7, Emma Felton, grade 8, and Connor Porthouse, grade 11 .

Notable Distinction ... Runnels Orchestra Director Jennifer Cassin has been invited to conduct the Caddo Parish Honor Orchestra next week. The performance will be held Jan. 24 at Pineville High School at 7:00 p.m.
Science Saturday ... Earth Science and Physical Science teacher Marcy Faust and several of her junior high students attended the Saturday Science presentation at the Main Library on Jan. 11. They were there to hear a talk by Dr. Gabriela Gonzalez, who is a professor of physics and astronomy at LSU and the aunt of visiting student Melina Gonzalez-Abatedaga of Argentina. Dr. Gonzalez was the spokesperson for the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) Collaboration at the time of the first gravitational wave detection in 2015. Her presentation described the history and details of the observation.

(Photo: At Science Saturday are, from left, Arthur Donaldson, Joseph Hebert, Melina Gonzalez-Abatedaga, Annabelle Pepitone, and Mrs. Faust.)
Geaux Mandarin Sign Up ... It's not too late to register for Geaux Mandarin after-school classes at Runnels! CLICK HERE for three easy ways to enroll your preschool or elementary student:
We Sincerely Thank ...
Chinese New Year Senior Luncheon ... (Photo - Senior Carlie Aucoin, left, is ready to dive into a homemade plate of Chinese food Thursday in the gym. The meal was prepared by Sylvia and Kevin Sutton, parents of Ally. To celebrate the Chinese New Year, the Sutttons prepared home rolled egg rolls, sweet and spicy chicken, JapChae, and fried rice. Special thanks to the Suttons for the fabulous meal and to Alice Aucoin, mother of Carlie, and Penny Earle, grandmother of Mitch Egger, for providing paper goods and beverages. Serving up seniors are, from back left, Melanie Hyatt, Sylvia and Kevin Sutton, Penny Earle, and Nicole Latiolais.)
In this week's photo album: First-Grade Computer Activity, First-Grade Math Stations, Jewish Film Festival Field Trip, Jr. Beta Mats for Homeless, Sculpting Class, Senior Luncheon, Preschool, and Candids.
Athletic Corner
G et your Raider spirit apparel at the Booster Club's Spirit Store !
The junior high spring sports season is just around the corner and it’s time to sign up for the following sports: Boys Baseball, Girls Volleyball and Boys/Girls Track and Field . If your athlete is playing more than one sport, simply fill out the below form twice. 

Practice for Boys Baseball and Track and Field will begin the first week of March, and Girls Volleyball will begin the third week of February.

Athletes 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. If you completed the free spring physical in 2019 at Runnels, your child's physical is valid for the entire sports season. You do not need to get another. If your child needs a physical please click on the link below for the proper physical form:
You must turn a hard copy of the Physical Form in to the office; please save a copy for your records. If you have any questions please contact Junior High Athletic Director Sam Coates at s.coates@runnels.org
 The Raiders varsity basketball team lost two tough ones over the past week. On Friday, the boys fell to 5A Woodlawn, 75-72. The Raiders built up a big lead but were unable to hold on. Collin Coates led the way with 29 points and Ben Holliday added 16 points. On Tuesday, Runnels traveled to Mt. Hermon to open district. Runnels came up short, 54-46. Collin Coates led the Raiders with 14 points and 18 rebounds. Runnels travels to Maurepas on Friday. 
 The Runnels girls basketball team was two for three this week. The girls beat Central Private 24-8, with Gracie Coates scoring 10 points. The team lost to Northwestern middle school 30-22, with Annie Garrison scoring 12. Finishing with a win to Central Middle 32-14, Annie Garrison led the team with 16 points.
Over the weekend, the Runnels boys 8th grade team finished runners up at the St. Alphonsus tournament. The boys beat Episcopal 32-22. Rossie Harrison scored 14 points and Cooper Coates had 12. The Raiders also defeated Holy Family 27-12, with Tyler Thibodeaux scoring 14. The Raiders continued their streak, beating St. Alphonsus 30-21, with Cooper Coates scoring 18 points. In the final game against Episcopal, the Raiders lost a heartbreaker, 32-24. Cooper Coates contributed 11 points.

(Photo: Coach Sam Coates and the junior high boys basketball team celebrate as Runners Up at the St. Alphonsus Tournament.)
The varsity boys soccer team celebrated its seniors, Eric Ho, Ian Shaneyfelt, and Eli Todaro, with an 8-0 victory over Brighton on Senior Night this Wednesday. It was the team’s first district win of the year. Junior Charlie Garrison scored five goals and had two assists. Eric Ho scored two goals, and sophomore Thomas Betancur scored one goal. The Raiders look to stay unbeaten in district when they play Central Private tonight at 5:00 p.m.

( From left, Head Boys Soccer Coach Chris Stewart with seniors Ian Shaneyfelt, Eli Todaro, and Eric Ho and Assistant Coach Grant Fink at Senior Night.)
Last Saturday at the LSU High School Indoor Classic track meet, senior Annie Fink placed 2nd in the 1600m. Fink now holds the fastest mark for a Louisiana female. Freshman Mason Pentes raced to a new PR in the 1600m.

The team will race again on Jan. 25 at LSU.
On Monday, The Runnels Bowling Team gave extraordinary effort in its match against Tara, with Karli Hebert bowling two turkeys and ending with a high score of 178, but Tara took the match in the last game. The young team of Runnels, however, looks very promising going forth in the season.

Wednesday, the Runnels Bowling Team dominated Broadmoor in its match at Circle Bowl, ending the night with a score of 23-4. The high scorers were Karli Hebert with 163, Rachel Hargrove with 141, and Jacob Tate with 133.
Basketball at Maurepas – JV 5:00 p.m., V 6:00 p.m.
Jr. High Boys Basketball St. George Tournament – 7th and 8th Grade Teams – Time TBD

Boys Soccer vs. Central Private – Burbank, Field 22 – 5:00 p.m.
Girls Soccer at Episcopal – 1:00 p.m.
Jr. High Boys Basketball St. George Tournament – 7th and 8th Grade Teams – Time TBD

Jr. High Boys Basketball St. George Tournament – 7th and 8th Grade Teams – Time TBD

Basketball vs. Central – JV 5:00 p.m., V 6:00 p.m @ home

Send in your fan pics to n.latiolais@runnels.org
Friendly Reminders
Jan. 20 / Martin Luther King Day - School Holiday

Jan. 22 / Sr. Beta Induction Ceremony / Theatre, 11:50 a.m.
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 / Grades 3-6 Cast Votes for Louisiana Young Reader's Choice (LYRC) Award / Elementary Library, 8:30 - 10:10 a.m.
Jan. 24 / Junior Beta Induction Ceremony / Theatre, 11:00 a.m.
Jan. 27-31 / Homecoming Spirit Week / Marvel Monday, TikTok Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, and Fairy Tale Friday
Jan. 27 / PAR Snack for Grades K-12 / at Recess for Grades K-6; in Plaza Area at 11:50 a.m. for grades 7-12
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 Encore Court Presentation / Catalano Gym, 7:00 p.m.

Feb. 1 / Enchanted Evening High School Homecoming Dance / Lake House, 7:00 - 10:00 p.m.