MAESA Matters February 2020


Greetings from MAESA!
The MAESA Choral Evensong at Washington National Cathedral is this weekend, Sunday, February 9th at 4 pm. More than 370 students from ten upper school choirs will sing Evensong with the Cathedral Choir. MAESA is pleased to welcome The Rev. Mark Andrew Jefferson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Virginia Theological Seminary as our homilist. Everyone is invited to worship with us!
A window picturing St. Cecilia, patron saint of music and church musicians, is the key image of our newsletter this month. While St. Cecilia's feast day is celebrated on November 22, it seems fitting to recall her as we celebrate our many musicians and choristers in the MAESA community that are gathering for the MAESA Choral Evensong on Sunday at Washington National Cathedral. If you cannot be with us, please join us by viewing the service streaming here .

Registration is open for the MAESA Scholars Fair hosted at St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School on Friday, April 17th. Registration forms and updated event guidelines have been e-mailed to MAESA schools serving 4th-8th grades and can also be accessed on the MAESA Scholars Fair page of our website. New this year, MAESA is excited to introduce a Math Challenge category with both individual and group contests! Please share this news with your math teachers who may not be familiar with our Scholars Fair, and plan to send students to participate. Each year 2D and 3D art work, multi-media presentations and science projects with various themes are showcased along with students who are competing in the spelling and geography bees as well as the non-competitive design thinking challenge. Download the registration form and the category rubrics and guidelines today at this link . April 3rd is the registration deadline for the Scholars Fair.

This month MAESA is very pleased to present a student reflection, "Why I attend an Episcopal school". Pierson Gammage , a member of the senior class and also the Senior Warden of the Episcopal High School Vestry, in Alexandria, Virginia, shares why she values the experiences that her Episcopal school offers intellectually and spiritually. We'd love to hear from an adult or an upper school student in your school about why they value being at an Episcopal school. Please contact us at  maesaschools@gmail.com to be included.

Why I Attend an Episcopal School
Pierson Gammage
Senior Warden of the Vestry
Episcopal High School, Alexandria, Virginia

Hello everyone! My name is Pierson Gammage and I am a senior at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, VA. I currently serve as Senior Warden of the Vestry and help guide spiritual life here for both students and faculty. At Episcopal, the Vestry is a religiously diverse group of individuals who strive to walk with others in their faith journey and help run our chapel services here at school. I, with a group of 18, work together to foster a healthy faith life here whether that means fellowship, interfaith work, or student-led initiatives. We as a Vestry want to promote religious conversation and create a safe space where all voices are heard and well-received.

 In terms of my faith background, I grew up in a religious household where faith has always been a constant for me in times of both joy and hardship. I knew that having faith as part of my school life and the culture of the school itself was something that I deeply hoped for.
When looking at high schools and boarding schools, I wanted to be involved in spiritual life and be in a community where I could make my faith a priority. I truly have found this spiritual contentment at Episcopal. At Episcopal, there is this identity of the values of intellectual and moral courage, inclusivity, empathy, respect, and spiritual growth. In my experience, I have felt a part of a community that has a warm feeling of being connected with others and having a strong sense of belonging and calling. This warmth comes from strong, close, and intimate relationships with other students, teachers, chaplains, advisors, and coaches that are significant and meaningful. 

Coming from an Episcopalian framework, Episcopal High School is a community that cares deeply for one another honors differences, and encourages us to look for the best and finest parts of others. As a community, we learn from each other and grow together. We laugh together, we cry together, and we support each other. At Episcopal, we are a diverse community with a melting pot of different faith backgrounds but in this community, we are one body. We all congregate three times a week in our chapel services, one of which is student-led. In this student-led service (every Friday), students and faculty share personal testimonies and offer guidance on how Episcopal has shaped them. Chapel Talks are a place where we gather as a student body to listen to each other, to connect, to affirm, to share wisdom, and even heartbreak. These talks by students and faculty are an opportunity to show a part of you that, otherwise, no one else would know. Chapel Talks are a place where authenticity trumps perfection. This creates an atmosphere of acceptance and love as community members are being open and vulnerable. 

         Not only do we have students and faculty speak but also speakers that we bring in for programming events like our Portrait in Faith Speaker program. For our 2019 Portrait in Faith Speaker recipient, we invited both Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck. Pat and Justin are close, lifelong friends that were born in the same hospital 36 hours apart. At age 15, Justin was in a traumatic car accident that triggered a dormant neuromuscular disease which quickly progressed to the point that Justin needed a wheelchair and constant care and assistance. Through this physical and emotional hardship, Justin and Pat remained lifelong and forever friends. One day, as Justin was watching television, he saw an advertisement for el Camino de Santiago. Justin was inspired and asked Patrick to push him on this 500-mile religious pilgrimage throughout the terrain of Spain. Patrick agreed and there began their journey together. 

We as students listened to Justin and Pat talk about their journey: the planning, physical logistics, emotions, hardships, successes, etc. Their main point was about the idea of someone pushing you, whether physically like Justin and Pat, or emotionally. There is someone in your life who pushes you to be your best self. This speech brought about the conversation - of friendship, loyalty, empathy, and graciousness. With opportunities like this one for real conversations and the religious affiliation we have as a school, we dig deep and ask the difficult questions not only about our faith but about ourselves as well. Faith is woven into the fabric that is the Episcopal High School community. This is one of the main reasons that I myself go to an Episcopal school because of the intellectual and spiritual dialogue that Episcopal institutions like EHS promote and accomplish.
Pictured: Episcopal High School Vestry and the Service Council with Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray.
Mark your calendar for next year!
2020-2021 MAESA Events
Members' Meeting and Luncheon Friday, October 2, 2020 at 10 am  
The MAESA Members' Meeting will be hosted by Grace Episcopal Day School, 9411 Connecticut Avenue, Kensington, Maryland.

Episcopal Schools Day Celebration, Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, October 7, 2020  at 10 am at Washington National Cathedral hosted in partnership with Beauvoir, the National Cathedral Elementary School.

Episcopal Schools Day Celebration in Richmond, VA on Wednesday October 21, 2020  at 10 am. The service location in Richmond will be announced later this spring. MAESA is expanding this celebration to include elementary, middle and upper schools in our central Virginia region and hopes to include a service opportunity in conjunction with the worship service. 

MAESA 2020 Early Childhood Educators Conference Friday, November 6, 2020  hosted by Washington Episcopal School, 5600 Little Falls Parkway, Bethesda, Maryland. This year’s conference will feature our teacher-to-teacher workshops and we will be opening submissions for your teachers to propose their own workshops soon! 

MAESA 2021 Choral Evensong Sunday, January 31, 2021  at Washington National Cathedral in partnership with St. Albans School and National Cathedral School.

MAESA Scholars Fair 2021  will return  St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School  in Washington, D.C. for the annual scholastic fair for students in 4 th -8 th  grade. Our Scholars Fair is always on a Friday in mid to late April and we will be confirming and announcing the exact date later this spring. 

Let us hear from you!
Katherine F. Murphy 
MAESA Executive Director