As standard annual reports do, the 2019-2020 report reflects the year that was. We celebrate a host of wonderful things: academic achievement, artistic expression, athletic accomplishment, a spirit of service, and broad extracurricular involvement. There are often lovely pictures of eye-catching musicals, Primers with ducklings, flowers blooming, recent graduates celebrating, and students jumping for joy on the fields. On occasion, there is acknowledgement of loss as long-serving faculty retire or members of the community pass into the great beyond. So in many ways, this annual report is fairly standard.
More specifically, last year at this time, I was moving into the final phase of my time in Tennessee after nearly twenty years at my previous school, and my predecessor was still standing here firmly at the helm. He had wrapped up the calendar year and was looking ahead to his final semester after a nearly five decade-long tenure in independent schools. As a community, CCES was preparing for a celebration of his successes. The Cavalier Fund was on pace to surpass its goal, an endowment initiative was going strong, and final preparations were being made for a blow-out Crafted gala event.
Then a pandemic few of us saw coming landed a leveling left hook. With short notice, we abandoned the campus, shifted to online instruction, scrambled to find new gears, learned the in-and-outs of Zoom meetings, barricaded ourselves in our homes with loved ones, kept our distance, wore our masks, and waited.
For someone who has written more COVID-related communiques than I ever wanted, I long for the day when I can simply share good news. Instead of meeting about possible exposures, updating dashboards, or making decisions about mitigations, I relish the chance to focus on all of the positives that the previous year offered.
As I write this report, I am admittedly a bit tired; but that sense of exhaustion is more than counterbalanced by my unrelenting sense of excitement for what lies ahead. To that end, I hope you find this report to be more of an appreciation of our collective perseverance and resolve and a preview of more good things to come. We should celebrate a safe and successful completion of the semester with upwards of 97% of the CCES community on campus. Our attention has turned away from mere crisis-management towards those things which have to—and will continue to—really matter in the life of this wonderful school: reviewing the implementation of our strategic plan; launching a new chapter in our IB journey; planning for hiring more world class members to the faculty; enjoying record applications by highly-qualified candidates; planning for more normal celebrations; and looking to how we’re going to emerge from a calendar year some would prefer to forget.
While challenges remain, this is ultimately an annual report meant to reflect a united Cavalier spirit—a spirit of power, strength, and hope.
Thanks to all of you for your support of CCES, a place that has done so much in its six decades and a place that will do even greater things moving forward.
With gratitude,

David Padilla
Head of School
 

Dear CCES Community,
 
The 2019-2020 year started off like any other with high hopes and big plans for the continued betterment of CCES.  We would say goodbye to our long tenured Headmaster, Dr. Leonard Kupersmith through a series of surprises and events, while beginning to introduce the school’s 9th  Headmaster, David Padilla, to the community.  A successful first phase goal of the Endowment initiative was reached in the fall, the Cavalier Fund was on track to fulfill it’s new goal of $900,000, and the Board of Trustees was poised to focus on the strategic future of CCES.  As the pandemic set in, plans shifted and new immediate priorities emerged, but in the end, the year as a whole still held lots of bright spots and blessings during uncertain times.
 
Despite the pandemic and shift to digital learning, CCES still continued to define itself as a best in class educational institution in South Carolina as the administration, faculty and staff worked harder than ever to deliver a top flight digital experience for students and families while finding ways to maintain the special sense of community we all needed more than ever.  Spring brought trying times with a great deal of financial uncertainty requiring constant, thoughtful, and diligent planning by the administration and the Board of Trustees.  The team worked very long hours trying to look into a crystal ball for answers and shifted strategies as the needs called for.  As early as mid-March planning for the upcoming school year began in earnest with the Board ensuring resources would be available to finish the 2019-2020 school year strong and safely reopen in the fall of 2020, a process that doesn’t traditionally begin in full force until after students are dismissed for summer. 
 
By working together the administration and the Board pushed through the new and unexpected challenges to end the year with many successes and bright spots on the horizon as we continue to navigate the pandemic and its challenges.  This work was made possible by the partnership between the school, the Board, the students, and families who helped support CCES on a daily basis.  Thank you all for being part of this exceptional school and for allowing me to serve you.

Warmest regards,
Cary Weekes
Chair, Board of Trustees