Charleston Collegiate – A 21st Century School

Ted Dintersmith is an expert in education and innovation, a best-selling author on education, and  an advocate for the need for educational reform to foster new ways of thinking and doing. His book Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Students for the Innovation Era, co-authored by Tony Wagner, was an international success, as was his 2014 educational documentary Most Likely to Succeed, which garnered much recognition at Sundance Film Festival and is still screened regularly at education conventions and events across the country.

So why the background on Ted Dintersmith? Well, Mr. Dintersmith has Charleston Collegiate School on his radar: he will be featuring CCS in a chapter of his next book!  Our educational approach is unique and innovative for our region, and through our Four Pillars (Project-based Learning, Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy, Leadership through Outdoor Education, and Creativity and the Arts) CCS is paving the way in the Lowcountry toward a more advanced preparatory educational model. Mr. Dintersmith’s recognition of CCS in his next book is a testament to our forward-thinking approach to education, pointing to us as a true example of a “school of the future.” Mr. Dintersmith said to our Head of School, Hacker Burr, “My wife was just in Charleston and just keeps hearing [so many] positive things about CCS. [You’re] the heart of my chapter about SC and it’s very flattering!”

As the times change, education has to keep up; a two hundred year-old teaching model doesn’t work on an iPad. We are the first in the area to bridge the gap to the future of education by implementing such an an innovative active-learning approach across all grade levels, instilling 21st Century skills in our students such as collaboration, communication, creativity, and resiliency – falling right in line with what many of the best schools in the country are doing.  As CCS continues on its forward trajectory, we are honored to see our efforts in this positive shift being recognized outwardly. Ted Dintersmith centers his educational ideals around the need to prepare children for both their own future and the future of our collective society, and we are very grateful to be so positively featured in his important work on the future of education!

Senior Exhibition Spotlight – Women’s Week

Senior Exhibition Spotlight: Women’s Week

As an integral part of the Upper School curriculum, twelfth graders are challenged each year to embark on a Senior Exhibition Project. This project is a year-long effort in which seniors “dive deep” into a topic about which they feel passionate or are particularly curious. Each senior is matched with a member of the CCS faculty who serves as a mentor and helps establish and monitor deadlines for various stages of the project throughout the year. The Senior Exhibition Project culminates at the end of the school year with seniors presenting their projects in a series of solo presentations in front of peers, family and faculty members.

For her Senior Exhibition Project this year, Brittany Phillips is exploring the notion that men are treated favorably in leadership positions. In order to work towards a fully developed project, Brittany created CCS’s first “Women’s Week” – where both female and male students participated in a variety of activities in order to help them reflect on the disparity between the treatment of men and women in terms of leadership positions.

During Women’s Week, Brittany scheduled special events each day, some of which were co-ed while others were gender-based.  These activities included team-building opportunities, making inspirational videos, and participating in self-reflection over lunch off campus.  Brittany also arranged for students to listen to TED talks on equality, hear a guest speaker discuss her dealings with inequality in the workplace, and participate in a discussion with a Project Manager from Microsoft on how to attain leadership positions in the workplace.

Brittany is planning to attend the College of Charleston where she wants to major in Political Science. She said of her Senior Exhibition topic, “I’m interested in going into politics because I’ve found that, while women are equal on paper, they aren’t equal in some people’s minds. I want to help women achieve more leadership positions, and I feel compelled to help women fight for those rights.”

Brittany is currently creating a documentary highlighting the events of Women’s Week, and is interviewing the Upper School girls about their impressions, experiences, and ways in which Women’s Week impacted them.  Brittany’s final product will be viewed in May during Senior Exhibition Week!

Brittany’s Senior Exhibition Project is an excellent example of the ways in which students can explore their passions while advocating for positive change. We hope to see Women’s Week continue in future years, and that other students will be inspired to follow Brittany’s lead – using their Senior Exhibition Projects to help others learn, grow and reflect.

Sustainability at CCS

Sustainability at CCS

CCS is taking great strides in ensuring our students both understand and are able to participate in sustainability efforts. We are currently building a greenhouse out of upcycled material, and we’ve just acquired land from the Kirages family that will become CCS’s new mountain campus, Five Springs. Students are helping build the tent platforms, cooking area, and bathrooms at the site! You can read more about this story in our previous blog post and after Winterim, when students will be taking another trip to Five Springs to continue efforts on the project. In terms of learning about sustainability in an array of areas, students have been taking field trips to places like community parks, fisheries, and farms! You can read the students’ reports about their trips below.

Johns Island Park Cleanup – Written by 10th grade

On February 23rd, eleven students of the sophomore class of Charleston Collegiate School went to Johns Island Park as part of the School’s commitment last year to adopt the park, becoming the registered “Park Angels”. When an organization adopts a park, it pledges to make the area a better place for the community. Our class collected eight bags of litter weighing a total of 80 pounds, and developed a plan to continue improving the park’s grounds.

This service project ties directly into our semester-long exploration of “Shared Humanity” as we study how we are all connected to our local community and the world. The next time we visit the park, we plan on taking kayaks to pick up litter in the park’s pond. Stay tuned to hear how the CCS community continues to make our shared lands better one place at a time!

Jeremiah Farms Sustainability Field Trip – Written by 9th grade

On Thursday, February 23rd, the ninth grade class visited Jeremiah Farms and Goat Dairy to explore our semester-long theme of “Sustainability.”  While touring the farm with Farmer Casey, we were able to learn about all of the ways that the farm survives and thrives. Farmer Casey pointed out many different plants they are currently growing, and even pulled some vegetables right out of the ground for us to sample, such as turnips, carrots, collards, and mint – as well as some wild grasses and weeds!  We also got to meet some of the farm’s goats, horses, pigs, chickens and dogs. Farmer Casey explained that everyone plays a role in the survival of the farm: the farmers plant the crops and take care of the animals; the “greeter” dog Emma greets all of the guests; the pigs and horses graze and turn up the soil for fertilization and provide manure; and the chickens provide them with eggs, the shells of which can be used for compost. We also learned about different ways that they grow the crops, such as in greenhouses or in the field, and Farmer Casey said, “Here we don’t rush the crops. We know their limits and we let them grow naturally. Sometimes they don’t survive, but then we use the soil for new crops.” She also explained that when the soil gets dry and grainy, she builds a fire in that area, and after the fire turns to ashes, she spreads the ashes and it revitalizes the soil, which can then be used for new crops.

On the business side of Jeremiah Farms and Goat Dairy, they don’t grow for public consumption. They mainly grow for themselves and for the animals, but occasionally they do sell goat’s milk. Jeremiah Farms and Goat Dairy is a permaculture farm, meaning it creates an agricultural ecosystem that is self-sustainable and self-sufficient. Everything that they use and grow is used for the reproduction of animals and crops. One tip Farmer Casey gave was to not take advice from random people on a farm, because it could mean planting something that grows rapidly and takes over the other crops in the field. Regarding some of the plants, she said, “Even if it doesn’t have a function, there is still room for beauty in the garden.” At the end of the visit, Farmer Casey let us try some fresh goat’s milk, and we made plans for her to teach us how to make goat cheese on a future visit.

The trip to Jeremiah Farms was also an opportunity for us to gain inspiration for our upcoming TED Talk presentations later this spring. Though our presentations are only a few months away, some of us haven’t fully established a topic to talk about yet. Going to this farm gave many of the 9th graders some bright insight into self-sufficient and self-sustaining permaculture farm life, just as building the greenhouse did previously. By the end of the semester, the 9th graders will have learned how to create their own greenhouse, plant their own crops, gained the wisdom to know what works best in a permaculture garden, and acquired the ability to produce a product such as cheese from a goat. The 9th grade and all of the teachers involved are very eager to see where we take our sustainability projects and how we go about incorporating our skills in the future.


Five Springs – CCS’s New Mountain Campus!

Looks like Charleston Collegiate is climbing to new heights again! We are in the process of constructing a new, permanent campsite in the Upstate of South Carolina on a 33-acre piece of land known as Five Springs. Mike and Helen Kirages, parents of Lazo (8th grade) and Jack (5th grade), have generously opened their land in Tamassee, SC to CCS!
Last week, we had eight parent and faculty volunteers break ground on the site. A group of 10 high school students will be completing the project during their Winterim experience this March.

The campsite will be equipped with six tent platforms, two bathrooms,  electricity, and a fire-pit that will illuminate the mountain nights! Stay tuned to learn about the numerous opportunities this project will provide for our students, families, and faculty!

Here Comes Everybody – The CCS Sculpture

Here Comes Everybody – The CCS Sculpture

If you’ve even been on CCS’s campus, you’ve probably noticed the unique metal sculpture on your way up Academy Drive. One of the most frequent questions we get is, “What is that sculpture?”
The shiny metal sculpture with its slowly spinning parts and anchored by an intricately designed deer was created by renowned artist Greg Fitzgerald. The piece was entitled Here Comes Everybody, and was donated to the school ten years ago by Colgate Darden, III, a close friend of CCS’s Headmaster at the time, Dr. Bob Shirley. The sculpture’s title was inspired by James Joyce’s novel Finnegan’s Wake, which chronicles the tales of Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, identified throughout the book as HCE. The initials HCE are seen throughout the novel in references to Holy Church Eternal and Howth Castle and Environs.
Dr. Shirley has stated that Finnegan’s Wake is “a fascinating book, but difficult to read.” Dr. Shirley thought the HCE-referenced title, Here Comes Everybody, was a perfect representation of CCS, as the school is open to all people and has become the most diverse independent school in Charleston. Dr. Shirley also said of the sculpture, “I don’t know what that deer is looking at, but it must be interesting!”
Hacker Burr, current Head of School, reflects on the meaning of the sculpture: “This statue sets the tone when visitors pull onto campus, as it blends art and nature in motion, representing the eclectic mix of diverse life that makes Charleston Collegiate School such a unique learning environment.”
So next time you’re on campus, consider taking a moment to get a good look at the sculpture. Walk around it, take in the elements, and reflect on how it represents CCS’s mission, culture, and values.

Student Spotlight: Conor Corcoran

CCS senior Conor Corcoran is one of the most inspiring students CCS has ever had the honor of educating. With a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy, Conor has overcome many challenges and has been the proud Team Manager for the College of Charleston Women’s Basketball Team for the past year and a half!

Conor divides his time between school, physical therapy, and his C of C team manager duties, such as managing schedules, writing scouting reports, making highlight reels and motivational videos, and attending every game . Conor must work harder than most, and yet his determination and resiliency have helped him achieve much more than many others at such a young age.

Conor was recently accepted to the College of Charleston, and intends to major in Communications in order to prepare himself for versatile career opportunities.  Ms. Allie Darby, CCS College Guidance Counselor, says of Conor, “He has drive and perseverance. I am impressed with how far he has come since I met him in the 8th grade. He is determined to make sure he is successful without using his disability as an excuse.”

Conor also loves the television show Survivor, and hopes to one day be a contestant on the show. Throughout his years as a CCS student, Conor Corcoran has truly been a testament to the environment that nurtures a love of learning and the drive to succeed. We are so excited to see all that Conor accomplishes at the College of Charleston and in his future career!

Instilling a Love of Learning – Project-based Learning

Instilling a Love of Learning

Part 3: Project-based Learning

Last January, six Charleston Collegiate faculty members traveled to San Diego to attend an intense, multi-day workshop on a modern and progressive educational approach called project-based learning.

A documentary released at last year’s Sundance film festival entitled Most Likely to Succeed was met with high acclaim, and was the basis for the faculty’s endeavor. The film follows the day-to-day lives of students at High Tech High in San Diego, a school that is fully immersed in a project-based learning educational model. The CCS faculty members spent four days at High Tech High, witnessing students design, produce and present projects and collaborating with the school’s talented and innovative faculty. The CCS teachers returned from the trip with contagious energy and excitement, as well as a wide array of fresh ideas and cross-curricular teaching concepts which they shared with their fellow teachers.

Mr. Brian McDermott, Upper School history teacher, has put this concept into action in several ways.  A semester-long project was recently completed, linking a chess board to a World War II battlefield, where Mr. McDermott challenged his students to create chess pieces representing impactful players from the WWII era. Once complete, the students presented their chess board and pieces to an audience of their peers, parents, and other members of the faculty.  In American History class, students created a “ ‘68 History Bracket” containing the most influential events and people from the 1968, then took the project one step further and built an 8-foot tall model of the sports-themed bracket, using it to discuss the characters and events in debate format with their classmates to determine the “winners”. The culmination of this project resulted in the students gaining a working knowledge of that historical time period while polishing their debating skills at the same time.

This fall, Charleston Collegiate’s tenth grade students approached the study of World War II in a different way under the guidance of Elizabeth Boyd, Upper School Humanities teacher. Mrs. Boyd challenged her students to create historically accurate fictional characters from the WWII era, then to write several diary entries from the perspectives of these characters. The students then followed up their diary entries by switching perspectives and writing feature newspaper articles as modern-day journalists having discovered the diary entries. They also created three-dimensional, era-specific examples of propaganda to accompany their writings.  Mrs. Boyd said of the students’ experience, “There is a great deal of value in these students being able to study a historical time period in depth from different perspectives. They can develop their writing skills while also applying a creative approach to a project.” Josh Corbin-Tomlinson, a student in the class, stated that “the project helped me see historical events from several creative perspectives. I feel that I have a deeper understanding of World War II now.”

Successful application of the project-based learning approach is also evident in science and math classes, even in the younger grades.   Middle School S.T.E.M. teacher Jen Joseph uses miniature trebuchet kits to create a competition in which teams of students must collaborate on the assembly of their catapults, then launch a series of objects, tracking their distances to learn the concepts of average, mean and median to determine the winners of the competition.

Ms. Joseph’s students have also learned about measurements and scaling in fun  and creative ways, such as the Candy Bar Scale Project in which students were asked to pick a candy bar, trace the wrapper, and then use their knowledge of proportions to scale up their candy bar at least four times the original size. They then drew their scaled candy bars to display in the classroom. Sixth graders also applied the concept of scale through their Solar System Project, in which they researched and then scaled down the sizes of the 8 planets and the sun.  They then researched the distance between each of the planets and the sun and also scale those down proportionately.

As a STEM project, CCS’s tenth grade created a Galileo thermometer with Mrs. Ellis and Mr. Hale. Each student made his or her own “temperature bulb” of a specific density that would float in the middle of a large tube of water when the water reached a certain temperature. They discovered ways in which water’s density changes as the temperature changes, and were able to calculate individual densities that would float in the large water-filled tube at different temperatures.

However, project-based learning isn’t merely applicable in the classroom. For instance, September 21st was International Peace Day, which Charleston Collegiate celebrated by gathering students and faculty together to help remind ourselves and our community what Peace truly means. Peace Day is celebrated by a moment of silence at noon in each time zone; Charleston Collegiate followed their moment of silence with a unifying activity: the formation of a Human Peace Sign. The United Nations selected this year’s Peace Day theme to be “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace.” In utilizing the concept of building blocks, CCS took each student as an element of the Peace sign, ultimately creating a moment of collaboration and unity.

Director of Fine Arts, Valerie Shears, stated, “We have been marking International Peace Day at CCS for many years. Students have created Pinwheels for Peace for display at our entrance, staff have learned to create over 1,000 origami Peace cranes, and this year the entire student body created a living Peace sign! We do things like this at CCS because we believe it is important to bring our students up in a community that values peace and wants to work toward a culture of peace. I think Pericles said it best for us, ‘What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone mountains, but what is woven into the lives of others.’

Also outside the classroom, Lower School applies project-based learning to their community service projects both on and off campus. First Grade has participated in several service projects, including Bishop Gadsden visits, Beach Clean-Up, Habitat for Humanity, and raising chicks! At Bishop Gadsden, the students built strong relationships with their buddies through lunch visits, story read-alongs, holiday caroling, and arts and crafts. When volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, the first grade students made welcome home cards, accomplished basic home projects, and participated in arts and crafts activities to learn hands-on work and how to connect with their local community. The students also raised baby chicks for several weeks on campus, learning about the animals’ care and maintenance needs, and eventually released the chickens onto a farm! At Kiawah’s Beachwalker Park, students cleaned up the beach and learned how to preserve local land, water, and inhabitants. This April, Lower School will be participating in a week-long “Happening” where they will learn nearly everything there is to learn about the ocean and will decorate their building to represent the process.

Project-based learning is an exciting and effective way to get students more involved in their learning, deepening their understanding and comprehension and significantly increasing the length of time that the students retain the knowledge learned. Head of School, Hacker Burr, explains:

“Project-based learning – teaching students through active participation – is ideal in that students are doing to learn rather than just learning to do.”

This approach thrives when teachers of different subjects collaborate on topics being covered in class, allowing their students to become fully immersed in a particular area of study while also honing their skills in communication, team work, and creativity.

Instilling a Love of Learning – Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy

Instilling a Love of Learning Part 2 – Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy

Most high school students have never heard of a business plan. Most high school students don’t know how to balance a checkbook. Most high school students don’t know how to apply for a loan. CCS high school students aren’t like most students -they graduate from high school with full knowledge of how to do all of these things, and more.

At CCS, all students develop business plans prior to graduation as a part of the Entrepreneurship and Personal Finance components of the CCS curriculum. Several students even compete in state and national level competitions, like senior C.J. Walker, who was recently awarded Student Entrepreneur of the Year by YESCarolina. The award is given to the students with the most promising and well-developed business plans, and Walker was honored with the award – along with start-up money to initiate implementation of his business plan – for his company called Terch.

Terch is a revolutionary sports merchandise business which  “gives passionate fans the opportunity to own a piece of their team’s history.” Walker said of his participation in the business plan competition, “It was an honor to be a recipient of YESCarolina’s Student Entrepreneur of the Year award. I am thrilled with my business plan for Terch, and I’m pleased to have won an award for it. I’m most looking forward to executing the business plan, and I’m very grateful for all the people who helped me with my plan, pitch, and interactions.”

Charleston Collegiate School bases its high school curriculum on cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset, as well as leadership skills, in students through project-based learning opportunities in which the students apply creative problem-solving skills. CCS has also hosted an “Entrepreneurship Speaker Series” throughout which entrepreneurs from a variety of businesses have come to discuss their journeys and give advice to students.

Greg Rayburn, former CEO of Hostess, visited Charleston Collegiate School’s ninth and tenth grade students to discuss his career journey and the benefits that a project-based curriculum can have on academic and career success. Mr. Rayburn is an experienced “turn-around expert,” known best for his work at Worldcom and Hostess. Rayburn said to the students, “Had I had your curriculum, I’d have been better prepared to jump from industry to industry. The ability to adapt to change is a really key thing. To be employable, you have to make an impact, and you never achieve anything without taking risks.”

The curriculum at Charleston Collegiate also applies a “fail forward” mindset in that failure is not labeled as permanent, but rather as an opportunity to learn and move forward positively. Rayburn explained the importance of failure and learning from it: “I would never hire someone who couldn’t tell me about a time they failed. You learn 100% more when you fail, and how you deal with that is a big part of getting ready for college and a career.”

Also in the entrepreneurship series was MIT graduate, NASA designer, and local inventor/entrepreneur Mrs. Krissa Watry. On the verge of converting a tech industry idea into action, Mrs. Watry pitched the students as if they were potential investors considering an investment of $20,000-50,000. Mrs. Watry presented a full business plan to the students, and went through an intense Q&A session with them after her presentation. Eleventh grader Brinley Frank said of the experience, “We learned about risk management in terms of start-ups and how you have to put the company’s priorities over your own, because you won’t get paid until the company is successful.” Mrs. Watry’s pitch was an opportunity for students to be exposed to a ‘real world’ experience of starting a business, exploring what it is truly like to be on a career track. Head of School and Junior Exhibition teacher Hacker Burr stated, “The event was an experience that most wouldn’t have until much later in life – if ever. However, this type of educational experience leading to practical application is typical at CCS with our ‘outside in and inside out’ approach.” This “outside in and inside out” concept aims to enrich learning at every level, by bringing in outside speakers or traveling off campus with a group of students to explore and learn in real world situations.

Establishing an entrepreneurial mindset and introducing financial concepts begins in the Lower School. For example, second graders have traveled to a pet store to research costs in order to create a budget for caring for a class pet, followed by brainstorming and executing a fundraising plan to acquire the funds needed to meet the budget requirements of caring for the pet.

In the middle school, all rising 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders tour colleges as part of their summer academic requirements to gain exposure to the collegiate preparation process. Middle school students visited over 30 colleges last summer, including University of North Carolina, Mills College in California, and Belmont University in Nashville. Middle School Dean Dan Miller said of this requirement, “I want Middle School students to visit colleges and universities over the summer because it is important for them to visualize their long-term goals. Many students know that they are expected to continue their education after high school but never set foot on a college campus prior to attending.” The purpose of this assignment is to have students visit at least four colleges and complete two “job shadows” during their four years of middle school, then present an exhibition project at the end of their 8th grade year explaining their academic and career plans and how they intend to accomplish their goals.

By the time CCS students reach high school, they have already been exposed to many financial concepts on which to build a deeper understanding of the value of entrepreneurship. CCS goes above and beyond in terms of preparing students to be financially responsible and innovative adults. This curriculum sets students apart from others in the college admission process, and ultimately helps them achieve success in their future careers.

Instilling a Love of Learning – Leadership through Outdoor Education

Instilling a Love of Learning – Part 1

The foundation of a Charleston Collegiate Education rests on our “Four Pillars”:

  • Project-Based Learning
  • Leadership through Outdoor Education
  • Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy
  • Creativity and the Arts

In conjunction, these pillars work to help our students become well-rounded, productive, and successful adults.  But how do we make this happen? How do we take four separate elements and seamlessly blend them together into one educational experience? By having a faculty filled with a love of teaching, thus instilling a love of learning in our students.

In this blog series, we will take a deeper look at each pillar, how it is applied in the classroom, and what the ultimate outcome is: a love of learning.

Leadership Through Outdoor Education

2016-11-15-23-56-03-1“Can we have class outside?”  If teachers had a nickel for every time they heard this phrase…

However, at CCS, this is a daily reality. Students have class outside every day: it’s called Outdoor Education. While Mr. Haynie and Ms. Bowers teach our students about safety in the outdoors, different types of local wildlife and vegetation, and wilderness survival skills – learning about the outdoors merely scrapes the surface of what the CCS Outdoor Education Program truly involves. Character education, team-building, risk management concepts, leadership, effective communication skills, and group dynamics are all ‘soft skills’ embedded in the program which students may utilize both on and off campus – now and in the future.

kayakEvents like Green Week help bring the school community together  with many environmentally-focused activities, and OE Character Ed classes for all grades help our students learn respect and communication skills, which they may apply throughout their days at school and at home.  Recently, our 9th and 10th graders went on a team-building kayaking trip with Coastal Expeditions on the Black River.  Students learned about local flora and fauna, the history of the area, and how our water systems work in South Carolina. Students paddled in tandem kayaks, honing their communication skills to get from Point A to Point B. Mrs. Boyd, Mr. Hale, Mr. Miller, and Mr. Haynie enjoyed the chance to observe the students expanding their knowledge of how we are all connected to one another and the land.

2016-11-15-23-49-55-1-1Students also experience team-building opportunities within the Outdoor Education Center (OEC) on the Low Ropes Course, on “The Wall,” and in other activities. The Wall, for instance, requires that students work together in order to assist classmates all the way to the top of the 15-foot wall, which involves a great deal of communication, trust, and problem-solving.

The OEC isn’t just for CCS students, either. The OEC has hosted guests from other schools, such as athletic teams looking to build comradery among their teammates, or the staff from a particular administrative department looking to get to know one another on a different level. The OEC has also hosted several businesses for team-building retreats. One such company is Johns Island’s own Briar’s Creek. CCS parents Eve and Greg VanderWeele, both employees of Briar’s Creek, said of their experience, “I could feel and see the growth within our group, and I was touched on such a deep, emotional level… Greg and I left with such gratitude knowing what our own children are learning at CCS… I love that our children are growing up in such an amazing environment!”

Our Outdoor Education Leadership program has also garnered attention from other organizations, most recently Safari Club International, who generously donated trips to the American Wilderness Leadership School in Wyoming to two of our very own CCS teachers.

Outdoor Education teacher Campbell Bowers said of her upcoming trip during the summer of 2017, “I am thrilled for this opportunity to gain more knowledge of the outdoors, especially as I settle into my new position as Lower School OEd teacher. I look forward to learning about the mountainous environments of the west, becoming skilled in archery, and meeting like-minded people. I can’t wait to take what I know to the west -and bring what I learn back east. What an incredible coast to coast experience!”

img_5635Middle School science teacher Jen Joseph said of her trip this past summer, “The Safari Club provided me with an amazing experience. I was given the opportunity to spend eight days in Jackson, Wyoming with a group of educators who brought their various teaching experiences from all different parts of the country. I was able to collaborate with others while learning how to integrate the outdoors into my classroom. The American Wilderness Leadership School supplied me with ample materials and knowledge to transform my classroom into a nature-conscious environment.”

fullsizerender-21The Outdoor Education Center recently needed some clean-up help after Hurricane Matthew. Parents, teachers, students, and friends all pitched to and take care of the trails, element areas, and fallen trees. Mr. Haynie’s Upper School OEC class and the 7th grade even took the storm as a blessing in disguise: they used the fallen trees to build a second outdoor classroom with the assistance of CCS parent Simon Black and his lumber mill!

The benefits of Outdoor Education also extend into the home. The Langstons, parents of two Middle School students, said recently, “Outdoor education and project based learning have been the main draw [for our children]. They both are so fulfilled and jazzed to go to school.”

2016-11-15-22-40-14-2Knowing that children are happy to come to school to participate in Outdoor Education, as part of learning through the Four Pillars, makes the CCS faculty proud to see their smiling faces – as well as the application of what they’re learning in Outdoor Education in all aspects of their lives.


American History Bracket Project

Mr. McDermott’s American History class is currently working on a “‘60s History Bracket.” The concept is simple: create a bracket containing the most influential events and people from the 1960s, study the topics in great depth, and be able to argue why their selected elements are the most influential in debate format with their classmates.

Execution, however, is less simple. The bracket elements were not merely written on paper – students also hand-built a bracket made of wood, which stands 8 feet tall! They designed it, painted it, decorated it, and even made their own “contender blocks.”

With the board and blocks nearly complete, students will finish the bracket on Friday and hold their debate on Monday to see which historical people and/or events will advance up in the bracket.  Some contenders include Lyndon B. Johnson, Walter Cronkite, “Yippies,” Martin Luther King, Jr., and plenty more. It will be an experiment in knowledge of history, debating skills, and the ability to articulate the two into a persuasive argument.

After a well-researched debate, the students will place their highest honor blocks into their Winners’ Bracket. Our next blog post will follow their debate arguments to see what ultimately leads them to decide the winners of their 1960s History Bracket.