Dr. Kupersmith’s Remarks, Episcopal Schools Sunday

Dr. Leonard Kupersmith addressed the members and guests of Christ Church Episcopal during the annual Episcopal Schools Sunday service on February 2.  Below are his complete remarks from the service.

I am honored to speak this morning and equally privileged to serve Christ Church Episcopal School, a gleaming outreach of this church from the moment it was conceived.

Today marks four occasions: the one that brings me to the pulpit, Episcopal School Sunday; the Super Bowl, a likely epic contest between the Seahawks and the Broncos, both of whom are led by quarterbacks who are graduates of independent schools, Russell Wilson from Richmond Collegiate, and Peyton Manning from Isidore Newman in New Orleans; Groundhog Day, when we look to Punxsutawney for signs of winter’s staying power; and my son Tucker’s thirty-sixth birthday. Continue reading

Faculty & Staff Share their Favorite Christmas Traditions

Looking for a new way to celebrate the holiday season this year?  We asked faculty and staff about their favorite traditions.

“When my children were born I started collecting ornaments to put their pictures in each Christmas until my last child graduated High School. I have a special little Christmas tree just for these ornaments. I also started sitting with each child and listening to Silent Night every Christmas.” – Cindy Hunt, Lower School Learning Specialist

“My family has enjoyed using Kiva.org, a global micro-lender platform, as part of our holiday charitable giving.  The borrower uses the funds to invest in their small business, and pays them back over the course of the year through a credit on the website.  Then, each Christmas, we use the online profiles to select a new loan recipient for the following year.” – Wes Clarke, Upper School Asst. Director & Director of Studies


Sankt Nikolaus shares the story of his feast day in Germany during Lower School Chapel.

“My favorite tradition is making sugar cookies for Santa! I have done this since a little girl and now do it with my own children.” – Lane Abrams, US Learning Specialist

I put the Sufjan Stevens Christmas album and several Christmas song mash-up albums on repeat until New Year’s Day (the 8th day of Christmas).  – David Mathews, Middle School Latin

The entire CCES community gathers together for a Chrismon service each December.

The entire CCES community gathers together for a Chrismon service each December.

“After we go to church, we go eat at the Waffle House and then when Will gets home his Christmas PJs are waiting for him!  Amazing…such a simple thing that makes him so happy!” – Kathy Jones, Director of Admission

Lower School shepherds and angels prepare small gifts to make Christmas brighter for those in need at Road to Bethlehem.

Many people come to Fountain Inn to see the lights, and the garden club does a home judging contest.  We have won the Sugar Plum award in our section for several years – the house children like the best.  For the inside of the house, the boys get a Christmas ornament each year that represents something they did in the previous year or will do in the coming year.  I also collect Christmas ornaments when I travel, or I take a souvenir and make it an ornament.  My tree is full of many memories from recent travels and travels in college.   As a family, the boys and I adopt a child for Christmas each year, and we pick a name from a tree at church.  –Kristi Ferguson, Upper School History

The Middle School Community Service Club spent a recent Saturday as bell ringers for the Salvation Army.

The Middle School Community Service Club spent a recent Saturday as bell ringers for the Salvation Army.

I started a new tradition last year with my Primers after reading the story, The Sparkle Box. The children decorate their own “sparkle box” and begin thinking of ways to make Jesus happy…service to others, kind acts, etc… They add these to their sparkle box and take it home to be placed under their tree for their family to open.  – Laura Huguley, Primer

How do you celebrate the holiday season?  Share your favorite traditions below – you may just inspire a new custom for another family!

Strength & Conditioning Program Prepares Athletes for Demanding Seasons

The high achieving student-athlete at CCES typically balances a schedule that makes the typical person’s head spin.  Classwork, extra-curricular activities, homework, athletic practices – all together, it is an exercise in dedication and time management.  Even with all of these commitments, a number of athletes are fitting in summer and offseason workouts with Strength & Conditioning coach Michael Fox.  Their investment is paying huge dividends on the field and on the court.


Strength and Conditioning at CCES takes place all year round, with many athletes attending in the summer as well as prior to their primary sport’s season.  Instead of the sport-specific drills athletes perform during regular practice, the program focuses on strengthening muscle groups central to their chosen sport, as well as overall physical conditioning.  With programs tailored to different athletes, workouts generally consist of a warm-up, strength training, and cardiovascular work.


Bennett Nalley ‘12, who plays Division I baseball at Presbyterian College, credits his Strength and Conditioning workouts in preparing him for the next level.  “My strength and speed have both increased a drastic amount…the program has more than prepared me to be able to handle the physical as well as mental demands of practice and conditioning at the collegiate level,” he said.


Meaghan Carrigan ’13, who committed last year to the University of Richmond women’s soccer team, said that despite the additional commitment of training, the dedication paid off.  “It wasn’t too hard fitting it into my schedule because I knew it was going to be such a key part of my game… the coaches are fantastic and truly want to help you get better and reach your goals,” she said.  Meaghan’s mom Cindy Carrigan agreed, “As a parent, I was encouraged to know that Meaghan was supported and challenged to exceed her goals… she was very well-prepared and easily managed to pass the fitness testing at University of Richmond,” she said.

Lori Seiler, whose son Cole ’12 plays soccer for the Georgetown Hoyas, said that the additional training was a key component of his preparation for college athletics.  “Cole took the sessions very seriously, and we felt Coach Fox was an excellent role model for him,” she said.


While the physical benefits are a key factor, the CCES sense of community extends into the weight room.  As Nalley wrote, “I had a great summer and looked forward to my workout…I enjoyed knowing that every day, everyone would support each other and strive to get better.”

Discover Lake Conestee for Family Fun!

nonameThe smell of the autumn forest, the sounds of birds chirping, and the crisp October air gave CCES faculty and staff a whole new outlook during a recent professional day.  A morning exploration of Lake Conestee Nature Park revealed a unique outdoor treasure for discovery, reflection, and enjoyment, all just a mile from the Cavalier Campus.


photoAccording to Director of Studies Wes Clarke, “The day’s focus aligned with the school’s institutional emphasis on the non-cognitive, including mindfulness, curiosity, and risk-taking.”  To begin the morning, participants gathered beneath the event pavilion to hear a bit about the history of the park’s development.  Once viewed as a polluted, deserted relic of Greenville’s industrial past, the vision and energy of several key pioneers transformed the area into a beautiful public resource.

With the help of Education Program Leader and CCES parent Gina Varat, faculty and staff divided into groups to explore the park according to their interests.  One-hour programs ranged from native plant tours to nature photography, yoga to wildlife preservation.  Others chose to explore the park’s “Learning Loops”, winding trails through meadows, forests, and riverbanks complete with learning stations detailing the history and ecology of the area.  History faculty enjoyed a tour of the Conestee Mill with Executive Director Dave Hargett.  “It was a great experience, and I hope it leads to a connection between our school and the mill,” said Upper School teacher Kristi Ferguson.


The morning spent at Lake Conestee inspired faculty to utilize this tremendous resource, both for classroom activities and family enjoyment.  “Conestee offers so many possibilities for education and recreation; I am excited by the plans I have already heard about from several of our teachers,” said Middle School Assistant Director Betsy Burton.

photo 2

Partnerships are already underway for CCES students and faculty to enjoy the park together.  Kimberly Morgan and the “Runners Unlimited” Afternoon Encounters group travel to the park at least once each fall to run on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Deborah Davis recently brought sixth grade science students to the area for a hands-on exploration of the forest’s health.

Lake Conestee frequently coordinates field trips, Saturday programs, and birding explorations for the community.  Click here to visit their website and learn more about this hidden gem!

Getting the Most from Your Shadowing Experience

With admission season in full swing, Assistant Director of Admission Andrea Fox advises students and their families on how to get the most out of any shadowing experience.

Every student that applies to Christ Church Episcopal School has the opportunity to spend a day in the classroom with CCES students and teachers.  This “shadow” day is an important part of the admission process. Not only does it provide the applicant an opportunity to see what it would be like to attend CCES, but it gives the teachers, students, and staff an opportunity to determine if the applicant would be an asset to our school community.


What is a shadow day like?

During his or her shadow day, an applicant spends the day doing exactly what the other CCES students would be doing that day; whether it is doing an experiment, listening to a lecture, or filming a video…they get to experience it all. The applicant gets to determine: are CCES students welcoming? Are the teachers engaging?  Would I enjoy going here every day? The teachers get to determine: does this student want to be here? Are they going to work hard? Are they respectful? Kind?  The shadowing day is an integral part of the admission process and allows everyone to determine: is CCES the right fit?

Shadowing blog graphic

Do you know someone that might be interested in spending the day at CCES?
Please have them contact the Admission Office with questions at admission@cces.org or visit us online.



Flu Season is Approaching!

Keep yourself and your family safe this flu season!

Keep yourself and your family safe this flu season!

With flu season approaching, CCES Nurse Elaine Parker wishes to pass along the following resources from the Center for Disease Control on keeping your family safe this season.  For parents, faculty, and staff looking to protect themselves, CCES will offer discounted flu shots on Tuesday, October 15 from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. in the Middle School Conference Room. 

Questions?  Contact Elaine at parkere@cces.org.

Center for Disease Control Information to Reduce your Risk of Flu

What you Should Know about the 2013-14 Flu Season

Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. There also are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent the flu.

1. Avoid close contact.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

2. Stay home when you are sick.

If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

3. Cover your mouth and nose.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

4. Clean your hands.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

6. Practice other good health habits.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.


Keeping Kids Safe Online

CCES Families: Join us for an informative presentation on internet safety with Detective Rick Floyd on Monday, September 23 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the CCES Auditorium. 

Detective Floyd recently retired from the Greenville Police Department, where he sought out and arrested many internet predators while working in the Computer Crimes division.  Currently, he works with Information Security in Greenville County Schools.  He is an expert on how to keep kids safe on the internet and other devices. 

For additional information, contact Melissa Adair, Lower School Libarian, at adairm@cces.org.


Melissa Hughes, Director of Instructional Technology, offers the following resources to help families protect their children online.

1. MONITOR YOUR CHILD’S USE. Know your child’s password.  Devices should be used in your presence.  Devices should never be taken behind closed doors. Ask your child what he or she is doing on the device.  Require that devices be charged nightly in a central location. While charging, take a minute to look at the browser history and apps. If the browser history has been deleted, ask your child why.

2.  Discourage the use of social networking sites.  Many of these sites require users to be at least 13 years of age.  While a child may legally be of age, these sites may not be suitable for your child.  Just as the content of a PG-13 movie may not be entirely appropriate for all 13-year-olds, the content on social networking sites may not be fitting for your child.  For middle school students, we strongly discourage the use of Instagram, SnapChat, and KIK Messenger. Please see the following for more information:

About Instagram
About SnapChat
About KIK
If you choose to allow your child to have a Facebook account, please read this article from Common Sense Media and this article from YourSphere for Parents.
If you choose to allow your child to have an Instagram account, please read this from YourSphere for parents and this about privacy policies and terms of service with Instagram.
To delete an Instagram account (simply deleting the app does not remove the Instagram profile).
To permanently delete a Facebook profile (deactivating does not permanently delete the profile).

3.  Take full advantage of parental controls. If you decide not to restrict app downloads in the restriction settings, require your child to ask permission before downloading apps, even if the app is free.  Test the app first or access it with your child once it has loaded.  If your child has a school-issued iPad, age restrictions for movies, TV shows, and apps, have been set.  Further restrictions can be set by the parent on a school-issued iPad by following the instructions below.  Also, for iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone, you may limit use to just one app as well as limit the functions of that app with the guided access feature. This video tutorial explains more about guided access.

For iPad
For iPod Touch
For iPhone
To Disable iMessage
For Kindle Fire
For Nook

4.  Consider disabling the default web browser (Safari, Chrome, IE…etc) on your child’s device and use a filtered web browser such as K9 Web Protection available as a free app for Apple and Android as well as for Windows and Mac computers.  This browser filters sites with adult content and provides a safe search engine.  Click here for more information.


5.  For further protection, consider a monitoring app such as MamaBear. The MamaBear app allows real-time monitoring of the location of the device and gives the child access to three easy buttons to communicate with the parent. MamaBear uses GPS to alert the parent if the child enters or leaves an area outside of programmed parameters. MamaBear also allows parents to program alerts when the child accesses social media sites, is tagged in photos, friends others on social media…etc. For more information click here.

6.  Regularly check sites such as YourSphere for Parents and Common Sense Media for updates, reviews, and other best practices.

7.  Create a contract or acceptable use policy for home use of devices.  Watch this video for ideas from a real mom.
Also, remind your child of the importance of leaving a positive digital footprint.  Anything posted online or exchanged digitally has the potential to follow them forever and may never truly be deleted.

8. House all educational or school-related apps on the home screen.  It will be easier to monitor use if all educational apps are placed together.

9.  Don’t be afraid to take away the device if used inappropriately.  If your child says he or she “needs it for school,” contact the instructor and explain that because of inappropriate home use, your child has lost his or her device privileges.  Your child will be responsible for completing the assignment without the use of the device or may turn in a late assignment after “time served” and suffer the consequences.

10.  Consider setting screen time limits.  Click here for suggestions.

“We are in the Character Building Business.”

Dr. Leonard Kupersmith, Headmaster, welcomed new and returning faculty to campus on Monday, August 19 with the following remarks.  (Text is excerpted from Dr. Kupersmith’s original comments.)

His observations center on the faculty- and staff-wide reading of Paul Tough’s “Why Children Succeed: Grit Curiosity, and the Power of Character.”

CCES is honored to be in great demand. Our student body has grown by 16% in the last three years, from 991 in 2010 to 1155 this year. The Board and senior administration will determine this year whether we grow beyond 1200 students. With room for no more than 15 more students in grades 4-12, we clearly need resolve the matter before the end of this calendar year.

The great value of this conversation is that it will remind us of the non-negotiables, of the institutional character traits without which we would no longer be what we value. That discussion about the essential character of the school and its preservation irrespective of the size of the community frames the focus for institutional improvement in the years ahead.

I want to comment about the most promising move we are making: deliberate and obsessive focus on character, not as a curriculum but as an outcome of the experience for CCES students.  In How Children Succeed, Paul Tough brings research to support a message that attentive and dedicated teachers at all levels know from experience. It’s not intellect that defines quality in people: it’s character.

We can all come up with different lists of admirable character traits: mine might include work ethic, grit, and conscientiousness; yours self-control and self-discipline, yours optimism and gratitude, mine courtesy and humility. The point is that character matters most. We know that teaching changes lives for the better. We also know that no quadratic equation, no recitation of the causes of the tumult in Europe in 1848, no deep set analysis of Prufrock, or elegant explanation of mutations makes the difference. These academic lessons may reflect what does matter: the passion to want to know and want to know more, to question implications, and seek reasons, to discover a universe and contemplate mysteries. The subject matter is relevant only to the extent that it ignites an incandescent light in minds and promotes character transformations.


Staying the Course

I have often told students that one of the most valuable lessons that they learn in school is the ability to cope with boredom. Life is not perpetually entertaining. Doing productive and valuable things and sustaining important relationships requires us to suck it up, hunker down, and stay the course. I hope we are shaping people with those traits. They are in short supply.

In his GED study Heckman found three key character traits that high-school graduates had that GED holders did not: the ability to persist at an unrewarding and boring task (conscientiousness); the ability to defer gratification (self-control); and the ability to follow through on a plan (grit). These qualities produce success and happiness. Most important these qualities sustain relationships that promote success and happiness. These qualities and other character attributes are not culture or era specific. They are bred early in our lifetimes.

We are in the character building business. No institution has a wider net or more lasting influence than a school. As a religious school and one that treasures service, CCES is better positioned than most to nurture the best character traits.  Talent gets our attention to be sure. But talent without character will wither; it will never come to full flower.

Phil Jackson recently discussed the principles (his koan) that have guided his eminent coaching career. One particular standard that he gave Tom Waits credit for rang true to me: “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.” This principle really captures a truth. It is a statement about character shaping behavior. Wonderfully timed, Father Richard’s gospel reading from Matthew 25:40 in this morning’s opening chapel service conveys the same message: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

These luminous statements refer to habits. Do we do things with humility and modesty? Do we do things with attention to detail? Do we do things with honesty and integrity? Do we do things with exacting standards? It’s all in the how: the how defines the difference in quality.


Modeling Character

How do we learn how to do things? By the models we have. Our virtues are shaped by people we try to emulate. There is no substitute for the mentor.

You have the power and position to shape the character of the students who come under your direction. This role is sacred.  Character development is all about the personal transaction. No online experience can replace touch. No true influence is transitory. That’s why you have such an opportunity: you have a year or more and years beyond that to build a relationship.

We are really fortunate to come under the influence of superb examples. I suspect that each one of us has been improved by someone with traits we come to admire and want to acquire. I had such a galaxy of teachers whose character captivated me. Jack Nicholson says to Helen Hunt at the end of As Good as It Gets: You make me a better man. So many people have made me a better person.

A few weeks ago Colonel Bud Day died. He was 88. He was among America’s most decorated servicemen having received 70 medals and awards, more than 50 for combat exploits, including the Medal of Honor and the Air Force Cross. John McCain eulogized him as “my friend, my leader, my inspiration.”

Colonel Day was captured twice by North Vietnamese forces, the second time he joined Senator McCain in captivity. Senator McCain wrote that Colonel Day had an “indomitable will to survive with his reputation intact, and he strengthened my will to live.” In February 1971 he joined Admiral James Stockdale, then a commander and the ranking American in the prison camp and other prisoners in singing the Star Spangled Banner while rifle muzzles were pointed at them by guards who had burst into a prisoners’ forbidden religious service.

Clearly Colonel Day was an extraordinary person.  His influence was profound just like yours. He set an example, he set a standard, he inspired others to rise to that standard. Each of you has that same precious opportunity to enrich lives by your example. God bless you all in this upcoming year.

Ready, Set, Summer: Getting Your Child Ready for Day Camp!

DSC_0365 As the school year winds down, students and parents are looking ahead to three months of summer fun.  CCES Summer Encounters is experiencing record enrollment this year.  Director Sarah Bell offers her advice for families hoping for a smooth transition from spring to summer.

How to choose?  With hundreds of camps to choose from, there are multiple factors to consider when making your final selections.  For example, some campers use the summer as an opportunity to spend more time participating in an activity they already enjoy.  Others take advantage of the chance to try something new and different.  Unless otherwise noted, no prior experience is necessary to participate in specific camps.  We are also happy to review a camp’s current enrollment to help find a session in which your child will attend with peers close to his/her age.

Consider the Goal.  While the first goal of camp is always to have a lot of fun, there is an additional goal within every program.  For example, campers have a blast sampling the fashion of their American Girl dolls, while also learning about the era from which those styles originated.IMG_2205

Plan ahead.  Parents receive a host of information prior to their camper’s start date, from carpool procedures to the weekly agenda for specific camps.  Reviewing the week’s activities and the structure of the day ahead of time allows campers to know what to expect and feel more comfortable joining a new environment.

New Friendships Await!  Did you know that over half of Summer Encounters campers attend a school other than CCES?  While he or she will often recognize at least one other classmate or teammate, encourage your camper to create new relationships over the summer.  The element of socialization with new people is an essential part of the Summer Encounters experience.











Make a Plan for Drop-off.  Many parents prefer to walk their children into camp on the first day, so they can meet the teaching staff and see what friends are also attending camp.  While younger campers may be nervous in a new place, rest assured that the majority of kids are happily joining into the day’s activities within minutes of their parent’s departure.  Camp leaders, assistants, and counselors are always on the lookout for campers that need assistance, reassurance, encouragement, or just a friend.DSC_0139

Questions or concerns?  Reach out!  The Summer Encounters staff members are here because we love seeing your children learn, grow, and have fun!  If you have a specific concern or question, feel free to contact us by phone at 299.1522 x1269 or by e-mail at summer@cces.org.

Finalizing plans for June, July, and August?  Summer Encounters spaces are going fast!  Visit www.cces.org to read more about our offerings this summer, or to register online.

Hitting the Road this Summer? Lower School Teachers Share their Favorite Book Picks!

Whether you’re heading to the beach or the mountains, visiting family or staying close to home, keep your Lower School child’s love of reading growing all summer with these book recommendations from our Lower School faculty!

Be sure to consider your child’s individual reading level when making decisions on books for this summer.

Add to the list!  Help Lower School parents and students find great reading selections for summer break by sharing your favorite finds in the comments section.

For older Lower Schoolers who love spooky, mysterious books: Anything by Mary Downing HahnMelissa Adair, LS Library

Gregor the Overlander – Suzanne Collins
Nancy Clancy – Jane O’Connor
– Tracy Breazeale, LS Library

Adventures of Biscuit, by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Adventures of Little Critter, by Mercer Mayer
Curious George, H.A. Rey
Books that are marked for certain grade levels vary widely – consider your child when making decisions on books for your Primer.
– Lila Kittredge, Primer

Clementine books, any of the Stink or Judy Moody books, books by Andrew Clements, The Lemonade War and sequels. – Leigh Stewart, Grade 2

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass
I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
Anything by Roald Dahl 🙂
– Ellen Gordon, Grade 3

I really enjoy the author, Gordon Korman.  He has several series of books that are suspenseful and fun to read.  Students have especially liked the Island series and the Titanic series.  He also has some funny books, as well.  My favorite is No More Dead Dogs.   This book is for a more sophisticated reader as the humor is little more advanced….but a fun book to read.  Parents might like this one, too!
– Angie Wilson, Grade 4

I recommend a series by Jorge Argueta: Sopa de frijoles, Guacamole, and
Arroz con leche.  Each book explains a traditional recipe in Spanish and in English
The poetic manner in which the recipe is shared highlights the Spanish culture as well as the joy of cooking. Parents and students might have fun recreating one of these recipes this summer!
– Kathy Apple, Spanish

Biblia para niños, Historias de Jesús / The Jesus Storybook Bible: Cada historia susurra su nombre (Spanish Edition)
Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates – Jonah Winter
Ellen Ochoa – Elizabeth D. Jaffe
A Judge Grows in the Bronx / La juez que crecio en el Bronx –  Sonia Sotomayor
– Jackey Waingart, Primer/1st Grade Spanish

I love for students to read in their Bibles and if they don’t have one they can borrow from me.  If you are buying one, be sure to buy New International readers Version (NIrV).  The Jesus Story Book bible.
I also love any of the American Girl books about life, friendships, and being the best person you can be. 
The Giving Tree
by Shel Silverstein. 
The Fall of Freddie the Leaf
by Buscaglia, for parents to read to children who lose a pet or grandparent, or someone they love. 
You are Special
– Lucado.
A Walk in the Rain with a Brain – Edward Hallowell
Up and Down the Worry Hill – Aureen Wagner
– Valerie Riddle, LS Chaplain/Asst. Director

Share your children’s book discoveries!  Add your children’s reading favorites below.