1926-1948 1948-1969 1969-1994 1994-Present
Much has changed at CCDS over its more than eighty years; however, there are discernable threads in the school’s educational design that inspire and sustain all those who become a part of this community. From its inception, CCDS has been a place where academic excellence is pursued. Teachers challenge and empower children to discover and develop their interests in the arts and sciences, humanities, athletics, moral and ethical citizenship, and to participate today and in the future in arenas both local and global.
A not-to-be-overlooked component of the school’s identity is interplay between the natural beauty of its Indian Hill environs and CCDS’s progressive and modernist architecture.
Cincinnati Country Day School opened its doors in September 1926 with an enrollment of fifty-five boys and a faculty numbering five. Harold Washburn was selected as the school’s first Headmaster.
The emphasis on developing the whole child was already evident in the school’s 1926 prospectus. An initial committee of five trustees (W. H. Chatfield, John J. Rowe, Robert L. Black, John J. Emery, and Julius Fleischmann) was committed to outdoor education and the study of nature. The school’s prospectus made this clear: “The School will be surrounded on all sides, to the horizon, by open country. It will be protected, for miles around, by farm property with widely separated residences.” In fact, the Indian Hill CCDS campus was so physically remote in those early years that a 25% transportation surcharge of $100 was added to the $400 tuition.
Believing strongly in the value of exercise, the CCDS Founders reserved the afternoons to be “devoted to outdoor play and sports, or to nature study in the fields and woodlands.” Built into the afternoon schedule, there was a study hall for the boys, and, in the judgment of the Founders, that sufficed “to eliminate homework completely for all the boys in the School.” Today, there are students who rue the passing of the no homework tradition.
CCDS’s first building was a “temporary” structure that was not replaced until 1957. According to reports from students and faculty, it was not unusual to draw eight inch wooden splinters from the corridor floors.
Because the vast majority of CCDS students transferred to eastern boarding schools upon entering their high school years, Country Day, between the years 1926 and 1939, graduated only thirteen students.
While it was near to impossible to field a football team, CCDS opted for the six-man variety from 1938 to 1945.
Safety standards were very different in CCDS’s early years. A rifle club under the supervision of Stephen Marvin operated beneath the study hall!
WWII saw 158 CCDS alumni in the armed services, including Headmaster Harwood Ellis. Six CCDS alumni made the ultimate sacrifice defending democracy in WWII.
In 1948, the first lower school building was built.
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In 1948, CCDS entered an era commonly referred to as “the years of growth.” It began with the appointment of Herbert Davison as CCDS’s fifth headmaster.
It was during the Davison era that CCDS began to emerge as one of the premiere private schools in the Midwest.
In 1950, CCDS was granted Cum Laude Society membership. Today the CCDS Cum Laude Chapter numbers nearly 500 students.
From 1952 through 1969, every CCDS graduate attended four-year colleges, more than half admitted to their first choice, and more than 97% earned their college diplomas. Of the 432 graduates, 32 matriculated at Yale, 20 at Williams, 19 at Princeton, 16 at Brown and Harvard, 15 at Cornell, and 14 at Dartmouth.
During the 1953-1954 school year, girls were admitted through grade 6.
The total cost of operating the school rose 792% from $83,160 to $659,025.
One man, unsurpassed for dedicated service to Country Day, was Bill Hopple, Jr. A graduate of CCDS in 1939, Mr. Hopple became Country Day’s first Lower School Head in 1953. He left that position in 1978 to become Development Director from 1978 through 1987. In the years following his retirement, Mr. Hopple continued to serve the school in ways too numerous to list here.
In 1957, Cincinnati’s talented and highly regarded modern architect, Carl Strauss, designed a new Upper School building in the International Style, replacing the 1926 “temporary” building.
As the school entered the decade of the sixties, the Board of Trustees formally reiterated its long-standing, non-discriminatory student enrollment and staff hiring policy “without regard to race or creed.” In September of 1964, two African-American students were admitted to CCDS, one in Kindergarten and the other in grade 12. The twelfth grader graduated from CCDS and attended Harvard. In 1969, the school’s first African-American teacher, Marcella Trice, was hired and later became the Head of the Lower School until retiring in 1996. The commitment to diversity has remained a fundamental part of the working ethos of the school. Today, 22% of the CCDS student body is racially/ethnically diverse.
In 1962, the Montessori program was introduced to CCDS. It was the first Montessori program introduced in the entire Midwest.
The school added a twelve-inch telescope and observatory in 1967, and in the same year, thanks to the visionary efforts of physics teacher David Laird, Country Day installed the first computer terminal for use at the school. This technological step was but the first in a series of bold initiatives that propelled CCDS to its position of national leadership in the curricular integration of computer technology.
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In 1972, the Board decided to admit girls into the upper grades on a one-year trial basis. The experiment was a success. By 1975 CCDS graduated its first two girls.
Charles Yeiser was named CCDS’s seventh headmaster in 1971 and was succeeded by John Raushenbush in 1977. It was during this period, often referred to as the Yeiser and Raushenbush years, that CCDS earned its reputation as the top independent school in Cincinnati. There are many reasons for CCDS’s academic ascendancy; however, it was largely due to the expertise and tireless efforts of the Country Day faculty. Because of their inspired teaching and length of service to Country Day, a brief history of the school must name two teachers and recognize their tenure: Lee Pattison (1946-1988) and Tony Strauss (1963-2007).
In the fall of 1980, Joseph Hofmeister assumed leadership of computer education at Country Day. His leadership for the next 27 years helped CCDS become an international leader in educational technology integration.
Richard Schwab, class of 1967, became Middle School Head in 1986. The new Middle School building was opened for the start of school in 1986, thanks in large part to Mrs. Susan Strike, Fund Drive Chair.
In 1993, CCDS brought the Summerbridge program (now called Breakthrough Collaborative) to Cincinnati, where it continues to prepare middle school students from underprivileged backgrounds to succeed in the public and parochial city high schools.
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In 1994, Dr. Charles Clark was selected by the Board to become Country Day’s ninth Headmaster.
During Dr. Clark’s tenure two very important initiatives were undertaken: first, in September, 1996, every child in grades 5-12 was issued a laptop as part of the school’s educational program. Second, construction of a new 100,000-square-foot facility, including a new arts center, upper school, dining terrace, and information center, was completed in 2000. Led by Craig Lindner, Ron Tysoe, and Bill Bahl, this was the largest capital campaign in the school’s history.
In 2004, Dr. Robert P. Macrae became the eleventh Head of School.
Under Dr. Macrae’s leadership, the school completed a new long-range plan that, among many other enhancements, calls for a new lower and elementary school building, a new state-of-the-art gymnasium/field house, and an outdoor educational area (ODEA), connecting the four divisions. The School’s mission statement
was revised and an Environmental Council
was established. Other recent enhancement to the School that are a testament Dr. Macrae’s strong leadership and vision for the School include the development of a new website, curriculum maps, a pedagogical development program, all-school service learning and outreach opportunities, and numerous community/School spirit initiatives including Opening Convocation, “Wrap-In”, and Broadwell Series.
During the past 12 years, Country Day has continued to excel in athletics, winning 56 Miami Valley Conference Championships, 26 Sectional Championships, 21 District Championships, and 4 State Championships. While CCDS long ago disbanded its rifle team, its athletic program now boasts 24 sports and fields more than 50 teams. The days of six-man football are nearly forgotten!
The arts have thrived as well, with significant strides in studio art, photography, theater, and literary arts. In the past few years alone, CCDS has won numerous Cappies (theater awards) and Scholastic Art and Writing awards. Our literary magazine, InWords, has garnered national recognition from the National Council of Teachers of English, and our photography initiative, Focus, bringing together public and private school photographers from around the country, merited a Leading Edge Award for Curriculum Innovation by the National Association of Independent Schools.
Students, more than ever, are encouraged to cultivate habits of self-discipline and to assume a growing and dynamic ownership over their education. CCDS students are passionate about learning, and this enthusiasm pushes back intellectual horizons and provides new perspectives that are rich and nuanced.
CCDS occupies a prominent place in greater Cincinnati by virtue of its reputation for excellence in education. CCDS graduates are well prepared for college and for life. CCDS graduates attend highly competitive four-year colleges and universities.
Today, Cincinnati Country Day School is home to more than 600 families and 800 students ranging in age from 18 months to 18 years, with a dedicated, extraordinary faculty numbering nearly 125. The 62-acre campus, with rolling terrain and lush natural areas, is in many ways unchanged from the way it was founded in 1926. So too do we remain true to the principles upon which we were founded – to educate moral and ethical citizens to be the leaders of tomorrow.
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