Charleston Collegiate Celebrates Peace Day

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 fold and made 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.’ The students and staff at Charleston Collegiate want to wish everyone a happy Peace Day.”

Briar’s Creek in the OEC

This summer, Charleston Collegiate hosted nine employees of the Golf Club at Briar’s Creek in our Outdoor Education Classroom.  Eve and Greg VanderWeele, parents of Avery and Zoe at CCS, brought their Briar’s Creek family out for a team-building day to learn some of the same skills our students learn such as communication, cohesion, brainstorming strategies, and teamwork.  They also learned some other skills applicable to their business, such as good customer service practices.  They had a great time participating in the outdoor activities which included egg roulette, community drawing, raging rapids, climbing the wall, and the 3D Mine Field.

IMG_6244The team participated in a four-hour team-building session where, after each activity, they would discuss what they did, how they learned from it, and how it relates to their position(s) at Briar’s Creek.

Eve VanderWeele said of the experience, “I could feel and see the growth within our group. Today, I was touched on such a deep, emotional level… Greg and I left with such gratitude knowing our own children are learning from you at CCS… I love that our children are growing up in such an amazing environment!”

Mr. Haynie and Mr. Dan, who hosted the event, said they can’t wait to host more corporate groups in the future!

Chess in Education: The Final Product

CCS’s Chess in History project has come to a close, and I must say, it’s bittersweet. I have thoroughly enjoyed following this project and interacting with the students as they put in their best work to complete it. When the class presented their project on May 13th, they were glowing with both relief and excitement.

Prior to the presentation, I spoke to Mr. McDermott about the project. He looked me in the eye and said, “They’re ready.” He explained to me that today, the day of the presentation, their posture was taller and prouder than it had been all semester.

20160520_133024 (1)Their presentation consisted of speeches from the students on which elements they contributed to the project. I must say that I was extremely impressed by the public speaking skills of all of the students who spoke. Each student had something different to contribute, both in terms of what they spoke about and which elements they contributed to the project’s completion.

The audience was then able to view their documentary, in which the class documented all of their triumphs and struggles throughout the semester. While the documentary presented small clips from the semester, I know that their achievements cannot be appropriately represented in a 15-minute documentary.

At the reveal of their chess pieces, I was taken aback by the intricate work of the paint and the sculpting. Each piece is painstakingly elaborate and specific. The board, consisting of green and white squares, holds several unique signatures under each tile as well as under the board itself.  As the students allowed the audience to analyze the board and its pieces, I could tell they were extremely proud of all the thought and work that went into making this chess set so unique.

This project was an entirely new experience for both the students and Mr. McDermott, and it took a great deal of trial and error. However, while they struggled, they ultimately produced excellent results and are truly paving the way for CCS to grow into an even stronger project-based learning environment. This unique project has made me so excited to see what new educational endeavors CCS’s students will take on next year!

Chess in Project-based Learning: Collaboration and Design

As the 11th grade American History students near the conclusion of their history project, I’m learning more each time I chat with them about how far they’ve traveled into the history of World War II.

The chess board they’ve designed consists of dark and light green shades in an effort to make the board appear as a battlefield. The students had to design their own chess pieces to fit their theme, and many of their pieces contain incredibly specific elements. Their light colored pieces represent the Allied powers, with Franklin D. Roosevelt as King and Lyudmila Pavlichenko as Queen. I’m ashamed to say that I had to Google Lyudmila Pavlichenko. I was amazed to learn that she was a female sniper during WWII. I didn’t think they allowed women to do much in the war but work in factories. Pavlichenko certainly set precedence for female participation within combat. The Axis powers are represented through dark shades; with Adolph Hitler as King and Maria Mandel as Queen.  I won’t give away any other figures selected; however, I found their individual piece selections quite fascinating and am looking forward to hearing their explanations for their choices at their presentation.

The creativity behind these choices and physical representations of them are astounding. The students have developed a manual for their presentation which explains the choices behind the color schemes and character selection. They’ve also produced invitations for their upcoming exhibition, devised a rule book for the actual chess play, and are currently finalizing all elements of their project for their exhibition.

I spoke to Larry Allen, a student in the class, about his experience throughout the project. I asked him both his favorite and least favorite things about this course and its change from textbook to project-based. He told me that he loved being able to mentally create and physically design the board and pieces. He found that working with his hands and applying what they researched to a physical result was highly beneficial to his learning style. In terms of his least favorite element, he struggled to present a response. Larry stated that, while he found it sometimes difficult to approach and resolve conflict, he thought their collaboration to be ultimately beneficial.

The class will be presenting their project on May 20th at 1:30 p.m.  For my final blog post on this project, I will include pictures of their final products and a link to their documentary. As I continue to follow this project, I become more and more excited for the students to present their work. They are so proud of what they’ve done, and I can’t wait for them to be able to share it with the Charleston Collegiate family!

Outdoor Education in Action

As I re-enter the CCS family, I realize how much has changed, and how envious I am of all the new opportunities given to students today. Currently, I am speaking of Outdoor Education. As I was graduating in 2010, Outdoor Education was just beginning to take shape. I spoke with Mr. Haynie about how much the program has grown, and I’m amazed at everything the students are learning.

Often I’ll watch Discovery’s Naked and Afraid, a wilderness survival reality show, and think “Wow, I wish I had these skills.” Well, students graduating from CCS will have those survival skills and more. They learn fire-building, shelter design and building, hunting, fishing and raft-making, just to name a few of the physical challenges. On top of this, though, they learn important soft skills such as teamwork, communication, support, leadership, etc.

Raft buildingThe other day, I witnessed a class of 8th – 11th graders working on raft-building. They are in small groups, about 5 or 6 students each, and I was amazed at their thoughtful work. They were working well together, and quickly, and I thought to myself, “No way could we have done this when I was a student…” And I truly believe that is because we didn’t have the soft skills. We didn’t understand how to work well together, or efficiently for that matter. However, these students have already had years of learning and practicing these skills.

One student in this class, Gregg Scott, was particularly impressive, as I learned that he was so enamored with his Outdoor Education that he chose to live in a tent for his Spring Break! He lived off the land, hunting his own food, completely cut off from all technology. When I asked him about his experience, he told me, “I had a wonderful time in my tent. I became the ‘ultimate woodsman’ so to speak. I built a bonfire, cooked some food and slept in my tent and basically lived off the land the entire time. It was an amazing experience and I would really like to thank Mr. Brooke Haynie for giving me the knowledge to do so.”

I’ve been invited to witness the raft relay race the students will participate in once they are finished building their rafts. I’m excited to watch their teamwork unfold in a more competitive environment. Given what I have seen, I have a feeling it is going to be an enriching experience for them and for me.

Chess in Project-Based Learning

Chess is a game of strategy.  It’s a game of wit vs. wit, mind vs. mind. It teaches and utilizes intelligence in more ways than one. Its strategic element is both challenging and rewarding. Yet when do we ever see chess taught in school?

Well, some of Charleston Collegiate’s 11th graders have taken chess to a whole new level:  They’re using it to learn history. The chess board has become a World War II battlefield, fully equipped with all the major players you know, and some you may not.

I attended Mr. McDermott’s history class and was lucky enough to be present for one of his many impromptu, yet utterly moving, discussions linking education to practical knowledge and application. He discussed the importance of the Queen, the most important player on the chess board.

I asked Mr. McDermott why they were doing this project, and the answer he gave me was rather enlightening. “These kids,” he said, “they just weren’t engaged. I couldn’t teach out of a book. It wasn’t working.” He explained to me that when the spring semester began, he sat down and taught his students a full history of chess, and then set them on their own to develop this project. They chose everything, from the historical theme of the project to the characters on the board to the colors of the tiles.

The project is made up of several elements which the students must accomplish by certain dates. I was present to view one of the milestones the students’ accomplished, a preview of their documentary. Their task was to complete a true-to-form trailer for the documentary they will present at the end of the school year. The documentary is a full account of their project.

Reflecting on this endeavor, I consider the fact that I was never given a project like this. Well, I should say I was never given THE OPPORTUNITY to complete a project like this. The first time I sat in on this class, I was astonished when Mr. McDermott sat down outside the circle the students had formed and said nothing. The students immediately began planning their goals for the day. When one student walked out of the room without first asking for permission, my jaw dropped.

“Are they allowed to do that?” I asked. Mr. McDermott smiled at me. “They know,” he responded. “They know what they’re supposed to be doing, and they do it.” The student returned promptly with a camera, and the class rose and left together to work on their project elsewhere. I was in awe. When I was in school, we often were denied requests to leave the room. We were not trusted to complete tasks without strict instruction and monitoring.

I was amazed at their ability to work independently, and cohesively, with little instruction. The level of independent drive to learn and produce was astonishing. They knew what they needed to get done, and they did it, just as Mr. McDermott said. They all seemed genuinely committed to this project. They are proud of it. They are learning. I can’t wait to see the finished product.

Welcome to the NEW Sun Devil Blast!

We appreciate your patience during our transition, and we’re so excited to get back to sharing our school news with you via the blog!

You may have noticed a new welcome e-mail subscribing you to The Collegiate Blast.  This is because, as a convenience, we transferred all subscribers to our old blog, The CCS Daily Blast, over to this new one.  We don’t want you to miss a thing!  If you feel this was done in error, or don’t want to be a part of sharing in our news and what is happening around the campus and in our community, please feel free to follow the easy unsubscribe links provided in the bottom of that e-mail.

Because we have missed out on telling you so much already this year, be prepared to see plenty of “flashback” blog posts about things we have accomplished and learned the first few months of the 2015-2016 school year.  We’ve had many visitors to the school, several educational and fun field trips, community events and fundraisers, and we look forward to letting you take a peek at all of the pictures and information we have saved up to put the word out.

We value  your comments, shares, and likes, and also welcome your input as a member of our CCS community of friends and family.  If you would be interested in writing a blog post about anything you feel would benefit our students, please do not hesitate to submit it.

We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving break, and we look forward to a joyful and invigorating holiday season!

Middle School Campers Kayak On Penny Creek!

Ms. Campbell Bowers and Mrs. Molly Olson led an exciting adventure last week for the brave middle school campers that wanted to give kayaking a try!  Here, we will go through each day as Ms. Bowers shared it.  We hope you enjoy the photos and updates, as much as they enjoyed learning to kayak!

Day One:  “We had a wonderful day on the water! Unfortunately we were unable to kayak, but we made up for it exploring in the pond and surrounding areas. We toured the kayak area and practiced paddling while checking out a ton of fiddler crabs. I can already tell this is a charismatic adventurous group. They had wonderful attitudes and great sportsmanship during our relay races and jumping competitions. I look forward to a fun-filled week full of sun and time on the water!




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Day Two: “What a fun day we had on the water! No place I would rather be in this heat than the cool waters of the Lowcountry. Today we worked on entering and exiting a kayak from the dock, how to ‘wet exit’ (flip over and get back in the boat from the water), paddle forward and backward, and how to turn. We had a ball just floating in the refreshing water while scoping out mini pluff mud waterfalls, fiddler crabs, and ‘pine cone fish.’ As always, your kids had a terrific attitude and were willing to help out with anything Mrs. Olson and I needed. Thank you again for sharing your kids with us this week. We can’t to see what tomorrow has in store!




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Day Three:  “What an awesome day on the water! Despite the unrelenting heat, we managed to have a boat load of fun paddling, exploring, and swimming. It is so peaceful on the creek, and we took a few minutes just to sit and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. The kids worked on turning their boats and communicating with each other to get from point A to point B.  Attached are pictures that show us rolling the boats out and entering the boats from the dock–a tricky maneuver which your children have mastered. Enjoy!




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Days Four and Five:  “What an adventurous fun week we have had! I enjoyed getting to know your children and their spunky outgoing personalities. Highlights of the week include: learning to paddle for the first time, exploring Penny Creek and its surrounding area, being greeted by fiddler crabs and periwinkle snails each day, learning to work and communicate with various partners, flipping over and righting a boat, racing on land and in the water, trekking through the Outdoor Education Center (OEC) with Miles (a faculty member’s dog), and most of all having fun in nature! I hope your kids learned some about our environmental community and much about the sport of kayaking. Thank you again for sharing your kids with us this week, and I hope you have a safe fun rest of your summer.



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We couldn’t have had better leaders for the kids, and if they have any fun stories about their week to share, we hope you will post something here in the comments for others to read!  Enjoy the rest of your Summer break!


Humans of CCS: Kevin Reilly

Kevin Reilly

Kevin Reilly

Rising 6th Grade Sun Devil

In what grade did you start at Charleston Collegiate School?  preschool

What 3 words do you think of when you think of your school?  Fun, ActiveLearning 

What is the most interesting thing you have learned so far this year?  The reproduction of cells

What is the most challenging part of school life, for you?  I don’t think of it as school.  I think of it as interacting with my friends while having fun.

What does it mean to be a Sun Devil?  It means to be in the CCS family.

If you could change any one person’s mind about one specific thing in life, what would it be and why?  I wouldn’t want to change it, because CCS is perfect.

How many times do you smile each day?  more than I can count, with all the fun friends and teachers

When away from school, where do you focus most of your time and attention?  on fun and staying active

Who has helped to make you the person you are today?  Mrs. Johnson and Ms. Joseph

Describe yourself in five words:  fun, active, smart, thoughtful and nice

What CCS event are you most looking forward to between now and the end of the school year?  Camp Greenville (survey completed prior to this mentioned activity, which he thoroughly enjoyed)

What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of when you look back?  making it to middle school

What career path are you currently interested in, and why does it appeal to you?  Basketball, because I have played since I was two

What has Charleston Collegiate School made easier for you that concerned you before you became a student here?  CCS has made life easier with all nice people.

What is your favorite part of the CCS campus, and why?  the challenge course, because it’s fun to challenge yourself

What clubs, sports or activities do you participate in at CCS?  I play tennis with Ms. Sowers right now

What clubs, sports or activities do you participate in outside of CCS?  mountain biking, sailing and climbing


“CCS is the best school EVER!”

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All “Humans of CCS” photos for the 2014-2015 school year are taken by KAITLIN EAKIN and PINITA TOVAR.

Who will be featured next?  The choice will be made by a random draw, from the submissions received during the school year.  Thank you so much!  We hope you enjoy learning more about each other!


School’s Out, Camp’s In!

School is out for the Summer season, but the campus is ALIVE with activity!  The Oaks & Twigs (Rising Kindergarten through 4th grade) Day Camp runs from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and offers a variety of well-rounded, exciting and active experiences on a continuous rotation throughout each day.  Rotating activities include, but are not limited to, the following:  creative arts, drama, S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), wilderness training/outdoor education, gardening, sports & fitness and pet care.  This lower school camp experience is available to both public and private school students from any area, and is of unbeatable value at $200/week or $50/day.  This daily camp opportunity is open through July 31st, and we welcome you to come in and sign-up at any time!  Their daily schedule also includes a rotation of featured camp activities, with instruction from Jump Bunch, Soccer Shots, Dance Moves and Charleston Community Yoga!  (To register, or with questions or concerns, please call Krystie or Anita at 843-559-5506.)

The following supplies are needed for the DAY CAMP, and should be sent with your camper each day:

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Bathing suit
  • Towel
  • Dry change of clothes
  • Lunch (healthy snacks are provided by the school, but please pack your child a lunch)
  • Hat (optional)
  • Closed toe shoes (Can also bring flip flops- will need closed toe shoes for Wilderness portion of Summer Camp)

For an inside look at what these campers have been doing so far this Summer, we have included several groups of photos.  Click on each photo for the full shot. (If you are on a mobile device and unable to see these pictures or slideshows, please just click the title of this blog to go directly to the full post.  Thank you.)

Oaks & Twigs Challenge Course

S.T.E.M. Camp (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)

Oaks & Twigs Puppy Relay

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Jump Bunch Camp

A little lunch break

Some “down” time before the day really kicks into gear!

Soccer Shots

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Yoga time!

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Summer Harvest!

Balloon Relay Race

Electrical Engineering

Music Camp

Oaks & Twigs Relay Race

Pet Care

Windy Fruit Loop Relay Race

Wet and Wild Water Slide Fun!

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We would love to give a shout-out to “Ms. Meka” and “Ms. Nicole” for their amazing work with these kids.  It takes a special person to keep children in line with patience, love, guidance and support, not to mention always wearing a smile and having a fun-loving spirit.  Thank you for your work with the camp, ladies!  And, thank you to all of the other teachers that take part by sharing their knowledge and kindness in each of the rotational or featured camps, as well!  You all make such a great part of the CCS team!   

For older students, rising 5th-8th grades (through 9th grade for the Archery camp), we offer specialized camps, beginning this week.  You may call any time to register for the desired camp, and all are open to both public and private school students.  Here are the camps that still have openings, so register soon if you are interested in your child taking part:


  • S.T.E.M.June 8th-12th from 1:00-4:00 p.m.
  • KayakingJune 15th-19th from noon-4:00 p.m.
  • ArcheryJune 22th-26th from 9:00 a.m.-noon
  • CookingJuly 6th-10th from 9:00 a.m.-noon
  • Wood CarvingJuly 20th-24th from 1:00-4:00 p.m.
  • DramaJuly 27th-31st from 9:00 a.m.-noon
  • BasketballJuly 27th-31st from 9:00 a.m.-noon


A group of 5th-6th grade students went to Pisgah National Forest for their “Week in the Wilderness” camp, and they had an amazing time!  Here is what one parent had to say to our Outdoor Education Director, Brooke Haynie, after her daughter returned from the experience:


We can’t thank you enough for the amazing week Ducky had with you & the gang. Trying to express my gratitude to you & Campbell for giving these children such a wonderful experience is like Ducky trying to explain just how special this trip was for her – words just can’t encompass the emotion. But I can tell from her stories of the adventures and bonding that went on this week that it was a life-changing experience for her.

Please know that I recognize how these trips can impact a child – I was lucky enough to have a similar experience camping through Europe with a youth group in high school – and we are so grateful that Ducky (and Riley!) have had the opportunity to be part of it under your amazing leadership. I have said many times that you are the crown jewel of Charleston Collegiate and this trip is just one of many examples why that is so true.

“Thank you” doesn’t even begin to cover it, but please know that I truly recognize how special you make this experience.

Ducky is already saving up for next summer!!!!!!

Thanks so much,



Then, later that evening, she sent another e-mail to Mr. Haynie:

Okay, here’s an added bonus I didn’t expect from this trip – when we were having dinner together tonight Ducky was telling us all about her trip of course, and Riley jumped right in and talked about HER week in the wilderness.

They talked about the places they both had visited (the fish hatchery, sliding rock, the ice cream shop, etc.) and talked about the differences between the two trips. I had to contain myself watching the two of them in such an enthusiastic and endearing conversation! They both agreed the best part of the trip is MR. HAYNIE!!!!!!

Brooke, it’s priceless what you do….


Mr. Haynie’s reply summed up this year’s experience, and why he is such a valuable part of our CCS community of educators:

Thank you for your kind words! I simply want our kids to know what is out there and that they need to take care of it if they want others and themselves to enjoy it in the future. The group was the most mature group of 10-11 year olds I have ever worked with in all of my years of teaching in the outdoors. Ducky was a true contributor to the group and the process as a whole. Thank you for always championing in our corner and promoting what everyone needs……..the outdoors and companionship.

Love to you and your family, The Haynies and Campbell


Please visit our Charleston Collegiate Instagram page, for photos from their trip.  Today, the 7th and 8th grade students left for this same trip and location, and we know they will have a very special time.  Then, next week our upper school students will be heading for Nantahala, NC for their own “Wild Week of Wilderness” experience!  We wish them the best of times and look forward to the stories they will have to tell when they return to school in the Fall.  (These trips are pre-registered and quickly filled up before the school year ends, so if you are interested in your child attending next year, please make sure to get him or her registered as soon as the dates are released during the 2015-2016 school year!)

All photos on this blog post have been taken by Krystie Mueller and Jennifer Partin.  For more information about Charleston Collegiate School, please visit our website: