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CCS opens 88th year with several new offerings

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Christchurch School students pass bags of spat to their oyster reef in the Rappahannock River. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)
Looking forward to the 2009-10 school year, Christchurch School Headmaster Jeb Byers said, “The school year ahead will be exciting as we witness the construction of our new science center and continue the rollout of our Great Journeys curriculum and programs.  We’ve enrolled outstanding new students from nearby and throughout the country and the world.  Our new students always bring wonderful new ingredients to the life of the campus.

“In addition to our academic schedule, the next few weeks are packed with athletics, community service, team-building and leadership activities, college workshops, waterfront projects, social activities, spiritual life programs, and recreation—all of which continue throughout the year,” continued Byers. “We’re also excited about our newly-designed student center, created together by students, faculty and parents. We have an exciting year planned.”

New additions to the academic program this year include instruction in Chinese by Dr. Liping Liu, and a class in Contemporary Environmental Issues: Sustainability Studies and Investigations.

In the evenings, students enjoy the new Seahorse Grill with a menu that includes Caesar wraps, sliders, nachos, grilled cheese, paninis and focaccia pizzas. 

CCS students to add to oyster reef Monday

“At Christchurch School, we are not only committed to taking care of our environment, but helping to restore our ecosystem to its healthy natural state,” said Will Smiley, science instructor and environmental stewardship coordinator at the school.

With this in mind, Christchurch School has started an oyster restoration project where baby oysters (spat) are allowed to settle on old oyster shells in a protected tank, and then placed out in the Rappahannock River where they will filter millions of gallons of water each day.

On Monday, September 14, at 5 p.m. Christchurch students and volunteers will gather at the school waterfront to place baby oysters on the growing oyster reef. This will be the second year students have grown spat on shell for habitat and water quality restoration. The public is invited to watch the event.

This project would not be possible without the school’s partners, Friends of the Rappahannock and the Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association.


Students returned to the school on August 24 for a week of orientation activities, which included preseason training for the soccer, football, volleyball, sailing and crew teams, as well as a full slate of the school’s co-curricular offerings in the areas of Community Service/Spiritual Life, River and Outdoor Programs, and Campus Life.

The school’s chaplain, Dr. Simon Mainwaring, led groups to the Richmond Refugee Resettlement Program and the Saluda Jail, seeking to place the students’ worldviews (faith-based and otherwise) face-to-face with issues of social justice.

At the Richmond Refugee Resettlement Program, students took box lunches to share with families from Somalia, Sudan and Pakistan. The refugees shared stories of life at home, their flight to safety in the UN refugee camps, life in the camps, and the eventual passage to America. Despite considerable language barriers, the CCS student laid the foundation for ongoing relationship, especially with the refugee children.

At the Saluda Jail, students toured the facility with Jail Superintendent David Harmon, then spoke with two inmates who narrated the sequence of events and choices that led them to jail.

Community Service Coordinator Dr. Laurie White led work groups at the St. David’s Church (Aylett) food bank, and free health clinic. Students sorted school supplies and unloaded a truckful of USDA food for distribution to the needy. Groups also worked, through Hands Across Middlesex, to clean and repair gutters, paint and strip wallpaper for retirees in Mathews and Middlesex counties. The students cleaned and inventoried equipment for the Rural Infant Services Program in Urbanna, and painted at the Mathews Boys and Girls Club, and at the 11th house built by Lancaster/Northumberland Habitat for Humanity.

Led by CCS Watershed Coordinator Dave Cola, students fully explored the lower Rappahannock River and its coastal plain watershed while canoeing, seining, hiking, marshmucking, crabbing and fishing.

With Living Campus coordinators Will Smiley and Abigail Cola, students completely revamped the school’s intensive, student-led recycling program, and tended the CCS reef and Oyster Farm. With proceeds from the “Cans for Oysters” program, students visited Oyster Seed Holding Company where they purchased 20,000 oyster seeds to place in the school’s new upweller tank. The oysters will remain in the tank until they are big enough to be added to the 50,000 oysters already on the school’s oyster reef.


posted 09.10.2009

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