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At CCES, we see the arts as an extraordinary educational tool. Our students have opportunities to create, take risks, and grow in self-confidence, self-discipline, and intellect.

The Arts at CCES

A warm welcome to Christ Church Episcopal School and the Arts Programs. We have a vibrant and unique variety of curricular and co-curricular opportunities in which students can engage. All three divisions provide experiences in the performing and visual arts with an expert faculty who truly care about the student experience. We invite you to explore all of our wonderful programs. Whether you are interested in music, theater or visual arts, CCES offers abundant opportunities to immerse yourself in the creative world. Our Hartness Performing Arts Center and dedicated instructors provide a world-class experience for all CCES students.

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Happening In the Arts

Upper school students holding their certificates for scholastic art and writing awards.
Kim Gendron, Social Media Coordinator

Since 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have recognized the vision, ingenuity, and talent of our nation’s youth— young artists and writers, filmmakers and photographers, poets and sculptors, video game artists and science fiction writers— and provided opportunities for creative students to be celebrated.

Hundreds of thousands of works are submitted at the regional level, with more than 2,000 public, private and home-schooled students receiving national recognition. CCES competes in the Southeast Region at Large, which extends from Washington, DC to the Caribbean. This year, we had a record number of CCES students who earned medals, including 7 Gold Key, 3 Silver Keys, and 8 Honorable Mentions. Our Gold Key winner will be entered in the National Contest.

Congratulations to the following students:

Gold KeyThe very best works submitted to Region-at-Large programs. Gold Key works are automatically considered for national-level recognition.

Maryn Baych ’27 for Photography

Beau Brashier ’27 for Photography

Matthew Covington ’24 for Photography

Sam Gallivan ’24 for Photography

Alex Klapperich ’24 for Photography

Bates Mann ’24 for Photography

Owen Reamer ’27 for Photography


Silver KeyDistinguished work submitted to Region-at-Large programs demonstrating achievement.

Millie Holekamp ’27 for Photography

Jeremiah Knuckles ’27 for Photography

Jackson Linz ’25 for Photography


Honorable MentionAccomplished works submitted to Region-at-Large programs showing great skill and potential.

David Dixon ’26 for Photography

Kendall Foster ’27 for Photography

Caroline Mitchell ’25 for Photography

Immanuel Neira ’25 for Photography

Charlotte Nessmith ’25 for Photography

Rylee Strohmaier ’25 for Photography

Frannie Teague ’26 for Photography

Lila Wills ’27 for Photography

Read More about Celebrating Creative Excellence: CCES Students Shine in Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
 CCES 4th Graders Explore Greenville's Vibrant Arts Scene
Joy Hughes, Lower School Music Teacher

On Tuesday, CCES 4th Graders had a blast exploring Greenville’s diverse arts scene, sponsored by our wonderful CCES Arts Guild. The morning began at the Greenville Center for Creative Arts, a visit hosted by alum and current CCES parent, Craig Ragsdale ’99, who shared his studio space and spoke to students about how his love for nature greatly influences his artwork. Dorothy Shain ’08 also stopped by and shared about her artistic journey, which was greatly influenced by her art teachers at CCES. She explained some of her projects, how she utilizes so many different forms of media, and how art has given her so many new and exciting projects – like painting a barn in Texas!

Next, the students visited the Sigal Music Museum, orchestrated by David Simsformer Director of the Arts at CCES and current Museum Director at Sigal. Students heard from Chris Stack, Marketing Director at Sigal, who gave a demonstration of instruments from around the world and how technology can change instruments. Dr. Thomas Strange, Curator at Sigal, also spoke with students, discussing the evolution of keyboard instruments and emphasizing the unique history of music.

After lunch, the 4th grade visited the South Carolina Children’s Theatre. Students took a backstage tour with Betsy Bisson, learning more about the history and workings of the theatre building. They participated in workshops with Anna Bowman and Traysie Amick, working on movement and vocal skills for the stage!

It was a full day, learning more about the local Greenville arts scene. Thank you to all the organizations who made this enriching experience possible!

Read More about CCES 4th Graders Explore Greenville's Vibrant Arts Scene
Bringing the Enchanted Rose to Life: A Tale of Innovation and Collaboration
Kim Gendron, Social Media Coordinator

There are many wonderful characters in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – Belle, Gaston, Cogsworth, Lumiere, and the Beast himself, to name a few – but it is arguably the rose that holds the entire plot together. Silent yet menacing, the rose with its falling petals, is a constant reminder that our characters are moving ever closer towards their doom.

So last spring, when the Arts department announced that Beauty and the Beast would be the US Musical in 2024, Director Reed Halvorson, immediately knew that one of his main tasks would be to figure out how to bring the enchanted rose to life.

Enter Chris Lipp.

After a casual conversation over lunch, Chris - beloved CCES Upper School Technology Instructor - offered to help Reed and the Arts department with any animation needs they might have. Reed didn’t hesitate. They needed an enchanted rose, programmed with the ability to have petals falling throughout the production. Despite having zero knowledge of the story of Beauty and the Beast and little prior theatre exposure, Chris too did not hesitate. He did what he has always done at CCES -- he jumped in, excited to figure it out.

From the start, Chris was brainstorming ways to get a student involved, and Nathan Salamin ’24 immediately came to mind. Nathan has taken a number of technology classes with Chris over his four years and was going to be in his spring Robotics class. Chris wanted to make it Nathan’s semester project, but the early February deadline was going to make it a tight turnaround. The two were undeterred, spending many E periods and lunch breaks working on the rose to get it ready in time for Tech Week.

Together with Reed, they discussed a number of designs, and settled on the idea of electromagnets. The final rose utilizes eight small magnets to hold petals to the stem of the flower, with a control panel that sits under the podium. Using a remote control off stage, the crew would be able to release a single petal at particular times during the show. Nathan took the lead on coding, which runs on the central processor in the control board, while Chris helped with wiring. Nathan says that it took a lot of “trial and error,” but the process taught him how to code more efficiently as well as the technical skills needed for the wiring. Once they figured out how the rose would work, they set about designing what it would look like

The challenge was creating a rose that not only held all of the magnets, but looked as natural as possible. According to Nathan, it was “not an easy project,” but the end product was worth it. He felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment once he saw how well it worked on stage. In a fun twist of events, Nathan, who has been a member of the stage crew in a number of musicals over his high school years, was able to be the person running the remote control backstage during the final productions.

It’s safe to say that Chris also had a blast working on this project, with all the hard work paying off with a seamless install (with the assistance of Mr. John King, CCES Technical Director) and perfect functionality once the wiring was complete. In addition to seeing the final product in action at the Faculty Preview, Chris was also able to finally learn how Beauty and the Beast ends! Having never seen the film or play, Chris had wondered: “Does the Beast die?” “Does the last petal fall?” (Spoiler alert, it’s a happy ending!)

Congratulations to our cast and crew for three phenomenal shows and a big thank you to Nathan and Chris for helping bring this central theme to life with innovation and creativity.

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Cultural Connections: Middle School Chinese Teacher Amy Wang's Guest Artist Day in the Lower School
Eli Jordan, Graphic Design and Marketing Manager

On Monday, February 12, Lower School art teacher Marilyn Mullinax invited a special guest to her class – our very own Amy Wang who teaches Chinese in the Middle School. In celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year, Ms. Wang spent the day with students, teaching them to use Chinese bamboo brushes, natural mineral ink, and rice paper to write Chinese characters.

“I have been participating in the guest artist program since 2018 , which is an annual project centered around Chinese culture and traditional Chinese handicrafts,” she says. In addition to Chinese brush calligraphy, she hopes to give students a greater understanding of the Chinese Lunar New Year, Chinese folk customs, and more. 

“As a first-generation Chinese immigrant and a Chinese language teacher, I feel a natural sense of responsibility to promote Chinese culture,” says Ms. Wang. “Through this project, I hope to provide our Lower School students with an opportunity to learn about Chinese culture. And maybe it will inspire more students to choose to study Chinese as their second foreign language when they come to the Middle School one day.”

Read More about Cultural Connections: Middle School Chinese Teacher Amy Wang's Guest Artist Day in the Lower School
The CCES Cast and Crew of "SILLYHEART" Takes a Group Photo After Receiving First Place at the SC Theatre Association Festival
Katie Leckenbusch, Director of the Arts

The CCES cast and crew of “SILLYHEART” achieved top honors at The South Carolina Theatre Association Festival this weekend. Their outstanding production not only won first place but also earned several additional accolades:

  • Best Technical Production Award
  • Best Supporting Actress: Camilla Lopez-Jordan ’26
  • All Star Cast: Fritz Heigel ’24 and Cameron Wilkie ’27
  • Addy Lyon was selected to participate in the 10 Minute Playworks
  • Cameron Wilkie was chosen for the final round of the monologue competition and will be competing at the regional conference.

Furthermore, the top two schools recognized at the festival have the opportunity to compete regionally at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Mobile, Alabama from March 13-17. Congratulations, Cavs!

CCES Upper School Students, Lily Thomas '24 and Lily Markalunas '24, Pose with CCES Staff Member, Dr. Lisa Allen
Bailey Breazeale '17

Three Upper School students were presented with special scholarship awards yesterday, November 2, during the All Saints and Arts chapel. Both Lily Thomas ’24 and Lily Markalunas ’24 were recipients of the Chris Ferrell Scholarship Award, and Ava Pitts ’25 was the recipient of the Richard Buckley Jacques Award.

The Chris Ferrell Scholarship Award was established in memory of Chris Ferrell ’89 and is given to one or more members of the sophomore, junior, or senior class who have demonstrated outstanding gifts and performances in the Fine Arts. This award was first given in 1990-91 and was presented this year to both recipients by Performing Arts Center Theatre Costumer and Production Assistant, Dr. Lisa Allen.

Dr. Allen first spoke about Lily Thomas and stated that “every single contributor commented they are honored to know her and have loved watching her talents in the performing arts grow over the years.” In her comments to Lisa, Joy Hughes, Lower School Music Teacher reflected on Lily’s maturity and independence, even at a young age, and said that “she loved music early on and was dedicated to developing her craft and her performance skills.” Sean Closz, former Middle School Choir Teacher, described her as “an extremely talented yet humble soul who is always helping others” and recounted a time where, despite not being handed a prop during their Show Choir finale, she continued performing and didn’t miss a single beat. Upper School Drama Teacher, Reed Halvorson, called Lily a leader in every sense of the word and stated that “she personifies the consummate artist, working diligently in all her areas of interest: as a musician, vocalist, actor, and social media creator.”

Dr. Allen closed by sharing a few words that described Lily Thomas: “positive, dedicated, hard-working, dependable, professional, genuine, and a shining light.” Fellow musician, thespian, and senior, Lily Markalunas shared some remarks about Thomas, reflecting on her friend, the vital position that she has held in the CCES Arts program, and the passion that she has for the arts as a whole.

After Lily’s remarks, Dr. Allen returned to the podium to present the same award to none other than Lily Markalunas. “We have all loved watching her grow in the performing arts and share that light and positive energy with those around her,” said Dr. Allen. Joy Hughes shared that “she brought others along with her bright personality and her love of the arts. Music came easily for her, and she was happy to share her gifts with others.” Jenny James, Middle School Band Director, stated that her “contributions are never self-serving” and her “consistency and dedication are obvious and always appreciated.” “Few students can make such a significant impact without being the loudest person in the room, but we know to always expect big things from the quiet ones,” stated Reed Halvorson.

Again, Dr. Allen closed her remarks by sharing a few words that described Lily as “reliable, positive, always smiling, dedicated, diligent, focused, a model for other students to emulate, and a shining light.” Swapping roles, it was Lily Thomas’s turn to share stories about her friend including favorite memories she shares with her “name twin,” and how she, and all the CCES Arts program members, have been influenced by Lily’s positive characteristics throughout the years.

The second award was the Richard Buckley Jacques Award, which is given in honor of Richard Buckley Jacques ’07, a legacy and 13-year veteran of Christ Church Episcopal School. Buckley was well loved for his sense of humor and adventurous spirit. He enjoyed travel, history, and playing basketball, but found a sense of purpose in the creative arts, especially digital design. This award, given for the fourth year in a row in his memory, recognizes an Upper School student who demonstrates exceptional talent in the graphics field, whether in photography, film, web design, or other digital media. Upper School Digital Media Teacher, Owen Riley, presented the award to Ava Pitts, describing her as “a poet with a camera who explores the universal and intimate in sometimes haunting and always beautiful ways.” He noted that she is “deeply creative in many artistic mediums including painting and drawing. She is also a gifted portrait photographer, who captures real life and emotion in her portrait sessions”

Ava’s friend and classmate, Sarah Beth Temple ’25, spoke on her behalf. She reflected gifted Ava is creatively, and the high quality of her work, both inside and outside the classroom. Sarah Beth thanked the Christ Church community for allowing Ava to develop her artistic talents as well as provide a space for their friendship to grow over the years.

These arts scholarship awards allows CCES to recognize and celebrate the artistic gifts of both current students and those who have gone before us. Congratulations to our 2023 awardees – Lily Thomas, Lily Markalunas, and Ava Pitts!

[ Photos by alum Ana Pelham, CCES Class of 2021 ]

  • Upper School
Guest Artist, Masankho Banda, Pictured Teaching CCES Lower School Students a Song
Joy Hughes, Lower School Music Teacher

Our Lower School and Middle School students had the great privilege of hearing our guest artist, Masankho Banda from Malawi. He performed in the Rooke Theatre sharing storytelling sessions with singing and drumming. Everyone learned about Malawi: the geography, the animals, the lake, the food, and the hospitality. He also shared songs and spoke in Lower School chapels. He worked with the Lower School Choir and the Seventh Grade Choir on traditional songs in Chichewa and the National Anthems of Malawi and South Africa. In Fourth Grade music classes, students had the opportunity to learn two dances to go with the songs. The Fourth Grade Percussion Ensemble practiced drumming patterns. For our Middle School students, who are interested in theatre and the upcoming Lion King, Jr. musical, Masankho did a special afternoon workshop and taught them traditional songs and dances. Students could opt to participate in the workshop, and there were about sixty five students who were able to be there!

Thanks to our outstanding Arts Guild, Masankho first came to CCES in 2009 and again this year. In 2008, I attended an Interplay/African dance workshop in Atlanta with Masankho and immediately wanted to invite him to CCES. In his exceptional teaching, he led with generosity, compassion, high expectations, and universal lessons. Since Masankho’s first visit in 2009, Lower School students have been singing the welcome song that he taught us, Nda Ku Ona. It means, “I see you with my heart, and I reach out to you as a fellow human being. Then I can say Hello.” We were so happy to share Masankho’s song back to him after a 13-year wait. Masankho taught us new songs, “Zikomo” which means “Thank you” and “Baba Yo,” the song of the ancestors. We learned that recognizing ancestors who came before us is a way to begin to gather together as a community. Showing gratitude is a practice that can be shared and spread around. We learned that dance and music are intertwined in Malawi, and that dancing and singing can be like praying.

Growing up in Malawi, Masankho was surrounded by storytellers, and he loved to dance. In 1987, Masankho came to the US to attend the College of Wooster where he earned a degree in Theatre and Dance Arts. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Culture and Spirituality from the Sophia Center at Holy Names University in Oakland, and he is a certified leader in Interplay, an international community arts organization. For a few years, Masankho worked as a lay chaplain and performing arts teacher in an Episcopal School in California. Through the arts, he has dedicated his life to inspire people of all ages to work together to bring about peace, social justice, and cultural understanding. Over the past twenty years, he has traveled to teach in 38 countries and in all 50 states. After leaving CCES, he taught in the “LEAF in the Schools and Streets” program and then performed at the LEAF festival in Asheville. He has worked with LEAF for 23 years. When he is not traveling, he lives in Lilongwe, Malawi. For his work around the world and all over the United States, Masankho was awarded the “Unsung Hero of Compassion '' commendation by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in May 2001.

We send a big thank you to the Arts Guild, to Masankho Banda, and to Katie Leckenbusch, Director of the Arts, for this visit. Some of the Third and Fourth Graders wrote thank you letters. Here are some of their responses: “Thank you so much for dedicating your time to come and visit us at CCES to teach us about your tradition through music.” “You inspired me so much.” “You were a great communicator because you lit up my face when you told your stories.” “I noticed that you were very courageous to be on stage in front of everyone.” “Thank you for your songs and your amazing drumming.” “I loved that you were reflective because you remembered all of the stories, songs, and dances from your childhood in Malawi.” “I loved all of your stories because they taught us important lessons.” “Your story was so beautiful. It really warmed my heart.” What a wonderful opportunity we have had.

  • Lower School
  • Middle School

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    Students in Orchestra Class