By LISA MONTI
After five years of fact-finding and research, Coast Episcopal School in Long Beach announced the addition of a middle school that will extend the student body from toddlers through seventh and eighth graders. The two new grades will be housed in an existing building on the school’s 24-acre campus.
CES officials used the occasion to announce the construction of an innovative Makerspace facility to foster creativity learning and a new school mission which was unveiled by alumna and two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, whose two children attend Coast Episcopal. “This school has been instrumental in my development. If I hadn’t gone to Coast Episcopal, I wouldn’t be here,” Ward said.
The school’s new mission says, “Coast Episcopal School is dedicated to a life-long love of learning by developing the whole child and providing a joyful, unique, and nurturing community that inspires its students to imagine and create a better world.”
Melissa Brown, director of development for Coast Episcopal School, said,
“This is a dynamic and exciting time at CES. Not only did we just announce the addition of a middle school and a Makerspace, we also unveiled our new mission. And what that means for independent schools, is that every decision we make as teachers, faculty, staff, board is guided by this mission. So, with the addition of any new program to our curriculum, we always ask ourselves: is this going to foster a life long love of learning, is it going to develop the whole child, not just intellectu-ally, but creatively, emotionally, socially, spiritually? It is a true an honor to see this mission come to life everyday.”
The campus, built on an old pecan orchard, has three main buildings for class-rooms, seven buildings housing arts programs, four playgrounds, athletic fields and hiking trails. The new William and Wynn Seemann Makerspace will join two other major support facilities: the Gail Keenan Art Center and the Raiders Gymnasium.
The school, founded in 1950 on the Bay St. Louis beachfront, was originally named Christ Episcopal Day School. Plans to expand to Pass Christian were set back by Hurricane Camille in 1969. Finally in August 2002, all of Coast Episcopal School’s students, from toddlers to sixth graders, were together at the Espy Avenue campus.
Since Hurricane Katrina is 2005, the school restructured and continued to grow, along with the coastal community’s comeback. Demand for the middle school classes prompted the Board of Trustees to form a committee to look into expanding Coast Episcopal’s expanded classes.
The new Makerspace, the first of its kind on the Mississippi Coast, will allow stu-dents to explore their own interests.
Head of School Daren M. Houck said, “The maker movement at Coast Episcopal School is and will be about teaching and learning that is focused on student-centered inquiry. Students will still need to use the information abundantly avail-able to them on the internet but now must do something with it. They must create.”
Using the educational “constructivist approach,” he said, “Students use prior knowledge to solve a presented problem or complete a task using a variety of resources provided and gain new knowledge from that experience.”
The school intends the Makerspace to become a learning hub for the community as well as its students. It will host visiting artisans, craftsmen and craftswomen, engi-neers, carpenters, hobbyists and others who can interact with students and the area residents.
The Coast Episcopal School Middle School will begin accepting applications for the seventh grade in the spring for the 2019-2020 academic school year. Applica-tions for an eighth grade will be accepted in spring 2020 for the 2020-2021 school year.
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