September 22, 1941, is a first day to remember! We opened our doors for the first time with 18 students in a leased home on Morehead Street.
Our founding headmaster, Dr. Thomas Burton, rallied Charlotte leaders around a visionary new concept in education—the independent day school. He served from 1941–45. Read More
Country Day's commitment to service began in 1942, with second graders who sold war bonds every Tuesday morning to students, parents, and teachers. By the end of the year, they sold $1,138 worth of stamps and $3,525 in bonds!
A strong parent/school partnership is in our DNA. In 1943, the Parents' Council (now called the Parents' Association) was established and chaired by Mrs. W. Frank Dowd Jr.
Country Day's longest tradition—it started in 1948—is a fun time for kids of all ages. The parade route weaves through Cannon Campus as parents, grandparents, and friends cheer on little princesses, sports stars, monsters, book characters, and more. Upper School students take part, too. Aquilifer Service Club members lead each class and band members provide the parade music.
Since the early 1950s every Country Day student has had a chance to shine on stage in a class play. Woven into fun story lines told through dance and song, you might also learn a thing or two about what the children are studying in class.
In 1952, we are still a small school with less than 100 students in grades kindergarten through eighth. Still, we fielded our first girls' basketball team and we had a cheerleader squad--with every member also playing on the basketball team.
Traditions that build community began early in our history. At our first Holiday Breakfast (called the Christmas Breakfast when it started back in 1955), the school hosted a full meal for the entire school community. This tradition is now sponsored by the Parents' Association.
Early in our history, we were known as "the Rebels" and in 1959, the mascot "Johnny Rebel" was unveiled at an assembly. At the time of our merger with Carmel Academy in 1980, Johnny Rebel was retired and we became "Buccaneers" donning green and gold. Today, "Bucky" keeps the crowd cheering for Country Day!
Our school seal has evolved over the years since we first adopted it in 1960, but the acorn element has remained constant. That's because an acorn only appears on a fully mature oak tree; therefore, it is considered a symbol of the patience needed to attain goals over a long period of time. The acorn embodies the intentional way in which our students are Country Day Ready.
In 1960, Country Day moved to its permanent home on Carmel Road with six buildings on 30 acres. At that time, Fairview Road did not exist and we truly were a school in the country.
In 1960, the late John Cook coached Country Day's first varsity football team when our biggest cross-town rival was Charlotte Catholic. Since 1985, we have played Charlotte Catholic for possession of the Cook Cup in this Country Day legend's honor.
It's called Big Saturday, because, well, it's big, and it's always held on a Saturday in April. Started by the Parents' Association in 1961, the event has evolved and grown over the years, but what has remained constant is the fun and fellowship enjoyed by children and adults, alike. A typical day at Big Saturday includes games and prizes, carnival rides, a talent show, a bake sale, a car raffle, an art show, and the extremely popular International Food Pavilion, in which Country Day families prepare delicious dishes from their native countries.
Aquilifer, a service club for girls, is our longest lasting club. It was established in 1961. Today, the Upper School has more than 80 clubs to suit multiple interests. And whether students meet to play Frisbee, promote social justice, create jazz music, build robots, or tend a garden, they all incorporate community service.
After all the rigorous coursework, extracurricular activities, service outreach, global connections, and lifelong friendships created, the graduating class is Country Day Ready to walk across the stage to accept a hard-earned diploma. Country Day graduated its first seniors, a class of just 15 students, in 1962.
School in the Woods, a popular Middle School program, takes place for the first time in 1966. More than 50 years later, it is still a Middle School tradition that combines learning, risk-taking, and class bonding.
Every fall since 1968, three days of rallies, costumes, decorations, and dances take place to determine which Upper School class has the most spirit. It's a week for giving back, too. On the first day of Spirit Week, students collect canned goods for Second Harvest Food Bank and then head to community partners around Charlotte for a day of service.
It's a really big honor to be selected as Senior of the Year and receive the Senior Cup at graduation. The faculty selects the senior who has most exemplified superior citizenship and positive contributions to the school. Alice Johnston was the first Senior of the Year in 1969, and Christien Williams '16 is our most recent recipient.
Since 1969, 27 Country Day seniors have been named Morehead-Cain Scholars. One of the country's most prestigious and selective merit scholarships, the award covers all costs to attend UNC-Chapel Hill. We have had three Morehead-Cain Scholars in the past four years, including Lili Zay '16.
When it comes to athletics and Buccaneer pride, our school community is all in. The Boosters Club, founded in 1977 by parent volunteers, supports strong interscholastic athletic and physical education programs through a variety of community-building, spirit-promotion, and fundraising activities.
In 1974, the Parents' Association allocated $10,000 toward the purchase of the school's very first computer. That was an incredible investment into a single computer the size of a phone booth. That innovation continues as students and teachers today integrate technology in the classroom through our 1:1 initiative and focus on digital citizenship.
In 1975, the varsity baseball team won its first state championships and began an amazing run with additional titles in 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1992, and 1993. Among all programs, the Buccaneers have been state champions more than 125 times.
Celebrating our teachers is a Country Day tradition. The Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award, created in 1973 and presented at graduation, is one of the highest honors a faculty member can receive. Our most recent recipient is Upper School history teacher Bob Plyler and the first award was presented to Frances Hyatt, who taught in Lower School from 1965-85.
We took another leap forward in 1980 through a merger with Carmel Academy that allowed Country Day to establish a second campus specifically for Middle School students. The distinctive Bissell Campus is a place of structure and freedom, perfect for children as they transition to the teen years. Read More
In 1980, as Charlotte experienced an influx of international families, Country Day responded to their needs. We were the first independent school in the area to offer students English as a Second Language (ESL), giving international students who speak virtually no English, or who still need time and a special curriculum to become fluent, the ability to enroll in an academic program.
There's plenty to do after school! In 1980, Country Day became the first school in the region to answer the needs of working parents by developing a structured program of before-school and after-school care. Today, we offer more than 25 after-school enrichment classes for students in Lower and Middle School, a nurturing Extended Day program, and a comprehensive summer camp program.
Country Day hosted the Special Olympics Mecklenburg County Spring Games for the first time in 1984, thanks to the vision of Dean of Students David Ball. Every April since, the entire Upper School—students, faculty, and staff—has taken a two-day break from the rigors of academia to welcome more than 1,200 athletes.
In 1985, Country Day began offering preschool instruction to four-year-olds and the new Junior Kindergarten program began with two classes. Today, we offer three classes from 8 am-1:15 pm.
Here's something to cheer about. In 1987, we were the first school in the area to create comprehensive, onsite Sports Medicine services for student-athletes. And while our facilities are comparable to that of a college, it's our talented athletic trainers who really make the program stand out. Read More
For many years, teachers had been incorporating international perspectives into their curriculum. So it made sense, in 1988, to establish an Office of International Studies--we were the first area school to do so. Today, the focus is on global mindedness and the program is about far more than travel—it's about building bridges to other people and places.
Did you know we were the first school, private or public, in North Carolina to offer the rigorous International Baccalaureate Diploma program in 1992? And we're still the only private school in the state offering IB.
In 1992, the Middle School initiated gender-specific math classes in seventh and eighth grade to take into account that males and females have different learning styles.
Every August, just prior to the start of school, seniors kick off their final year with a camping and rafting trip. This memorable tradition began in 1992.
Grants and sabbaticals make it possible for teachers to pursue knowledge through first-hand experiences all over the globe. The Parents' Association began funding three grants annually in 1997, and four more have been added thanks to generous donors to endowment and the Annual Fund.
One way we recruit some of the brightest young teachers in our region is through the William Randolph Hearst Endowed Teaching Fellowship, a grant awarded to Country Day in 1993 by the Hearst Foundation. The grant attracts recent minority graduates from Davidson College to our school, including our current History Department chair Zhenya Arutyunyan.
In 1995, the Lower School was one of only six schools in the country to be named a Physical Education Demonstration School because of its exceptional PE program. So it's no surprise that the Carolina Panthers came to us 2006 to help develop their Fit Squad program.
Since 1992, Country Day students have benefited from strong relationships with sister schools in seven countries on four continents. In 1993, we became one of the first schools in the region to initiate international exchanges at the Middle School level. Since that time, more than 2,000 Country Day students have traveled on sister school exchanges.
The deeper integration of computer use into every grade and every discipline began in 1997 when the Middle School pioneered a "computers across the curriculum" initiative. In effect, this made every teacher a computer teacher.
Because we believe that students benefit significantly from an education that affirms respect and inclusivity as core values, Country Day established the region's first Office of Diversity Planning in 1998.
In 2002, Country Day piloted a high school mentoring program for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Since that time, about 50 percent of each junior and senior class has volunteered one lunch hour a week to read, talk, play, and be a friend to a young child at Rama Road Elementary. This defining program of the Upper School has a positive and lasting impact on both the "Bigs" and the "Littles." Read More
In 2007, Country Day initiated the first full teacher exchange between a North Carolina school and the People's Republic of China. Each fall, a teacher from Nanjing spends the semester at Country Day, and every summer, a Country Day teacher serves our sister school in Nanjing.
Because our lab-based classes encourage a deeper understanding of concepts and ignite a passion for science, seniors may choose independent study areas. In 2003, a college-level organic chemistry class was created as a result of keen interest in the topic from students wanting to learn more.
"Come as you are." That's the essential message created in 2007 when our school became one of the first in the country to adopt an Affirmation of Community: "Charlotte Country Day School is committed to living as an authentic, inclusive community. Our pursuit of this commitment to community recognizes and affirms the richness brought by difference and discovered through commonality."
This special gathering of the entire JK–12 academic community, which started in 2012, celebrates the promise of a new school year, along with the value of setting goals and working hard. The ceremony begins with the senior class walking hand in hand with the junior kindergarten and kindergarten classes and ends with the senior class president presenting an oak tree sapling to them.
From developing robots for disaster situations to researching a drug's effects on leukemia, students have the opportunity to conduct primary research, to experience college life, and to meet other talented science students from all over the country through this program begun in 2012.
In 2012, Country Day hosted the first Affirming Community Together (ACT) conference for area middle school students. The event, which rotates between Country Day, Charlotte Latin, and Providence Day, developed out of the desire of Upper School students to pass on the knowledge they acquired in attending national diversity conferences.
Since 2011, Country Day has hosted an annual exhibit open to the public featuring works from special artists, such as Romare Bearden, W. Louis Jones, Cundo Bermúdez, H.H. Adams, Sylvester Britton, Sam Gilliam, Rebecca Haworth, Cheryl Warrick, and others.
"Overseas trips are practically routine at Charlotte Country Day School, a private school with a strong international studies program. But a recent student trip to Cuba, a communist country that has just begun opening to America trade and travel, is not only a first for the school but possibly for the state." This quote is from a Charlotte Observer article detailing the students' November 2015 trip.
75 Years of Firsts

Since our founding in 1941, Country Day has been leading the way in education. Our history—whether seven decades ago or just last year—is chock-full of "firsts." It is also filled with the people who make Country Day so special and who are always looking forward.

In commemorating 75 amazing years, we hope you'll join us in honoring our past, celebrating our present, and sharing in our vision for the future. We want to foster an even deeper sense of community, and we hope you'll be a part of it.

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  • Forward Thinking

    In the spring of 1940, our founding headmaster, Dr. Thomas Burton, rallied Charlotte leaders around a visionary new concept in education—the independent day school. On September 22, 1941, Country Day opened its doors with 18 students. We've been leading the way in education ever since and have always been a community of leaders and doers, who are continuously looking forward.

  • Exceptional Academics

    Over the years, Country Day continued to build on its reputation for educational excellence and innovative thinking that introduced new programs and brought many educational "firsts" to Charlotte that continues today.

  • Going Beyond Academics

    We are proud of our longtime traditions that offer students experiences beyond the classroom in the arts, athletics, and community service.

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Charlotte Country Day School
1440 Carmel Rd Road, Charlotte,
NC North Carolina 28226
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