Below are the prepared notes from the speech delivered by Alumnus Emily Bridges, CCES Class of 2008 for the Upper School Academic Honors Assembly on January 27th, 2020.
Thank you Dr. Kupersmith. First, I want to add my congratulations to all of you. As a 13 year vet of CCES, I know how hard you all have worked to achieve Honor Roll last semester. It is not easy. You should be proud of how well you have started this year, and you deserve this. Enjoy the reward and this recognition.
I know you have heard from countless teachers, staff, and other alumni that CCES has so many advantages, and I want to you that this is completely true. These not only include the wonderful education, but also so many opportunities, many of which you won’t realize until years after graduation, You never know where your interests will take you and what classes you took at CCES will turn out to be unexpectedly valuable.
As you heard, I’m a lawyer here in Greenville, specifically, I practice business litigation. This means I handle a wide variety of types of disputes for companies, whether it involves a contract issue with another business or an issue between employees. Because of the type of law I practice, I spend a lot of time researching and writing arguments to courts about my client’s position. One of the things CCES taught me was to write well, and under time pressure. In your first year of law school, you take a writing class. After my first assignment, I met with my professor to go over my paper. We talked for a few minutes about Greenville, and when she I told her I went to CCES, she immediately said she knew it because of my writing. She told me that she had several former CCES students in her legal writing class in the past, and she was always impressed with the clarity, organization, and sophistication of their writing. While at CCES, I felt like I was always writing one five paragraph essay or paper every single weekend, whether it was in English for Mrs. Carter or Spanish for Mrs. Kotrady. I have now come to realize how much this helped train me for my future. Clearly you guys have already learned how to succeed at writing!
However, while you should take advantage of the academic offerings, you shouldn’t forget about the other classes you can take. You never know what interest you will develop or how this will help you. I, admittedly, am not a great artist and have been told I should not sing with the windows open, but CCES required a certain number of fine arts credits. One term, I took a drama class only because I had to fulfill this requirement, not really sure what I was getting into. Not only did I learn how to appreciate and analyze proper narrative structure – a skill I still use today when summarizing the facts of a case to colleagues or the court, but we also spent several classes playing improv games. These games taught me to think quickly on my feet and react to my scene partner. As a litigator, I’m constantly having to react in the moment to questions from judges or unexpected arguments from opposing counsel. This drama class gave me the skills and the confidence to be able to state my case in the moment, something for which I am grateful nearly every day. CCES gave me this opportunity.
Whether it’s a class that just sounds interesting or a sport you’ve never tried, take advantage of everything. However, it’s not just the material you learn in class, but also the faculty and staff that are important. What you learn about your teachers is as important as what you learn from them. I not only learned Calculus from Mr. McGee, but also how to ask for help and how to have a lot of patience. Creating my ninth grade bug collection taught me far more about insects than I thought I needed or wanted to know, but it also gave me the chance to hear amazing stories from Mr. Titmas about his travels. CCES teachers are not only experts in biology and history, but they are also professionals at giving advice or just listening. You all have mastered the subjects they teach, so you now have the chance to learn about them and from them. You will be glad that you did.
The opportunities at CCES are endless, whether it’s the being able to play a sport while also working on the newspaper, starring in the musical while participating in Youth in Government, or as simple as being able to chat with your teacher after class about the latest book they read. You all have already achieved so much, but you never know where your interests will take you. CCES will help you in your future career, but that random fact about WWI that Ms. Ferguson told you or the proper chemical name of table salt will also help you win a trivia night. Every class or activity at CCES works with one another.
You are all going to go forward to achieve wonderful things, whatever path you decide to take. That path will likely change three or four times, but each class you took and each teacher or coach you had will help you get exactly where you need to be. So congratulations to all of you on achieving Honor Roll – I can’t wait to read about all you accomplish in future issues of Highlights.