Gazebo Gazette

Approximately 200 students, families, friends, faculty, administration, and board directors gathered at the entrance of Coast Episcopal School on Friday, November 17 to celebrate a ribbon cutting and dedication of renovations completed this past summer at the independent school in Long Beach, Miss.

Head of School Jake Winter greeted those assembled with praise for the support of renovations that represent completion of the first phase of a $2.5 million Capital Campaign launched in the fall of 2022.

Casey Maugh Funderburk, President of the CES Board of Directors, Evelina Burnett, Capital Campaign Manager, Leah Watters, Principal Architect, Watters Architecture, and Chris Hansen, Project Manager, Crane Builders, participated in the ceremonial ribbon cutting. CES Chaplain, the Reverend Clélie McCandless, offered a prayer before leading the attendees through the school hallways for the official dedication.

Stated Head of School Winter, “The improvements you see today encompass 40 years of repair work, completed in just two months this past summer, and the project has surpassed our expectations. It has ‘taken a village’ of countless individuals coming together to complete, in just a few months, what may be the largest construction project ever undertaken at our Long Beach Campus. We are eager to have our CES families reap the benefits of our school’s renovations, while maintaining our main focus of providing CES classroom magic for each one of our students.”

Renovations to the 50 year old elementary school building included new electrical and HVAC systems, ceilings and flooring, and a restroom and water fountain located adjacent to the school’s expansive playground.

Campus safety upgrades such as reconfiguration of the front office, additional security cameras and monitors, and a new phone system that now connects all seven buildings on the 25-acre campus.

The $1,054,837 cost of the first phase was covered by nearly one million dollars of cash and in-kind donations that came from nearly 100 Coast Episcopal School families, friends, and suppliers, including Watters Architecture and Crane Builders.

Capital Campaign Manager Evelina Burnett coordinated the fundraising activities that financed the campus enhancements.

Throughout the 2022-2023 school year, Burnett coordinated living room parties with small groups of CES families and sup- porters to explain the need for infrastructure improvements and outline the plans for the school’s future.

“The generous support of CES friends and family has been even greater than we hoped,” said Burnett, “and speaks to the vitality of our school and, more importantly, to their commitment to our students. We are excited by the support of our community for these efforts to improve CES for future generations.”

“The completed work we’re dedicating today is just the beginning, and we are looking forward to sharing our vision and plans with even more CES friends and family over the coming months.”

Burnett went on to say that the $2.5 million, three-year plan will result in a contemporary and cohesive look using unifying elements on the exteriors of the main building, Gail Keenan Art Center and Seemann Makerspace.

Windows throughout the campus buildings will be replaced, the Toddler Town (serving 18 months to three year olds) and Preschool buildings (serving three and four year olds) will have revamped parking, including ADA spaces, and new landscaping and a way finding signage will be added around the campus grounds.

CES Board President Casey Maugh Funderburk was equally enthused at Friday’s dedication. “The Coast Episcopal School Board has been excited to support the much-needed renovations to the existing elementary school building. As the first of many exciting changes coming to CES, this initial phase of the capital campaign marks an important milestone for the growth and development of our children and the school. As our fundraising efforts continue, we hope the community will continue to support our growth as we move toward exciting new additions to the CES footprint.”

Said Leah Watters, Principal Architect, “The main building has been largely untouched for decades, and the Board and Administration made a bold decision to invest in the existing infrastructure. We believe that these renovations provide a clean backdrop to the academic discoveries that happen within the walls of CES.”

Crane Builders of Waveland served as the general contractor for the project’s first phase.  Project Manager Chris Hansen stated, “Crane Builders was honored to have the opportunity to be part of the capital improvements at CES. Our own children have started their school careers here, and we couldn’t be happier that they will be able to take advantage of the facelifts Watters Architecture has designed for the school, and that today’s administration and Board of Directors are moving forward with additional projects.”

Coast Episcopal School is dedicated to a life-long love of learning by developing the whole child – mind, body and spirit – and providing a joyful, unique and nurturing Judeo-Christian Community that inspires its students to imagine and create a better world.

Founded in 1950, CES is a mem- ber of the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS).  For information: Coast Episcopal School, 5065 Espy Avenue, Long Beach, MS, 39560. 228-452-9442. Coastepiscopalschool. org