March 22, 2023: Grayson Sossamon

Grayson Sossamon was our speaker today. He holds the special place of being the first student ever to sign up for our school, having started as a seventh grader in 2013! Grayson is attending Coastal Carolina University and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science. He is currently looking at graduate schools and pursuing an eventual degree in Physical Therapy.

Grayson works with a research professor in his CCU department studying the use of Blood Flow Restriction in exercise. Their work together gave him the unique opportunity to present at a scientific conference in Greenville recently. He showed us the poster of their experimental study. “It’s the exact same as a science fair project,” he said. “So whatever Dr. Neubauer is teaching you is for real!”

Grayson explained that restricting blood flow to certain groups of muscles can intensify exercise without making it hard on the heart. “The body is kind of tricking itself,” he told us. BFR is used for people who have cardiovascular problems–patients with heart disease can lift less weight and still get all the benefits of weight-lifting without straining themselves. The trick is finding the sweet spot where gains are maximal and risk to the patient is minimal.

Grayson told us that BFR is already being used successfully in many PT gyms but that people should only use it under the guidance of a professional.

Grayson started out as a test subject for the BFR research and found it fascinating and helpful to his own fitness. He then jumped at the chance to work with a professor involved in the research who needed an assistant. He ended up deciding to become a physical therapist! Grayson will graduate this May. We are very proud of him and it was delightful to see him back on campus.

February 22, 2023: Michael Carter

Mrs. Patrick introduced Mr. Michael Carter, our Open Forum speaker for February 22. Mr. Carter is a former SLED (State Law Enforcement Division) agent and former sheriff of Georgetown County.  He came to talk about the time he spent working in law enforcement and specifically about his experience with the 1968 Orangeburg Massacre.

Mr. Carter began by talking about his ties to our school and to Georgetown. “I was born four blocks from here on the kitchen table [of our house],” he said. “There were no hospitals back then.” He graduated from Winyah High School, where he also played football on a field which is now covered up by a building behind TGS.

As a new SLED agent, Mr. Carter was called to Orangeburg in February of 1968. Some two hundred students from S.C. State College had planned a march from the campus to a nearby shopping center to protest against a “whites only” bowling alley. Mr. Carter explained how he and some other members of his team had to go out and try to stop the conflict of people out in the street protesting. The first march ended without serious incident, but the next day three students were tragically shot after a fire was set on the highway and things got out of hand.

An outside agitator was eventually arrested for inciting the events and sent to jail. After doing his time, he completed graduate studies in the northeast and became a professor. In an interesting twist of fate, this man’s son now works with the arresting officer’s son–at the same law firm! Their association gives Mr. Carter hope for the future of race relations in our country. “I hope we grow in a direction where all men are created equal,” he said. “But we have a long way to go.”

By Saylor

February 1, 2023: Hope McFaddin

“I’ve always loved the water and felt a real kinship with it,” said Hope McFaddin, our Open Forum speaker for February 1, 2023. Hope has been the head administrator for the SC Maritime Museum since 2018.

Hope told us that as a teenager, she felt depressed and decided to begin volunteering at the SCMM to get herself out and find some happiness. It worked, and she was eventually hired part-time, then full-time and now is very fulfilled by all the responsibilities of her job—writing grants, managing volunteers, running the many educational programs, helping create exhibits, and just keeping the building well-maintained.

The SCMM is an incredible asset to tourism in Georgetown. It is free and there are about 20,000 annual visitors from all over the US and many other countries. The umbrella organization for the SCMM is the Harbor Historical Society, which organizes the annual Wooden Boat Show and the summer Youth Sailing Program. Since 2017, they have had programs for youth every month upstairs and are hoping to start a hands-on learning area there. They are always looking to increase student traffic to the SCMM.

Hope told us that our involvement in the SCMM was “impactful and makes a huge difference,” and thanked us for it. The SCMM has made a huge difference for TGS as well, giving us amazing volunteer opportunities, sponsoring our sailing team, and always supporting our school events. One of our seniors, Kelsi, has been volunteering at the SCMM since 2020 and has learned a lot. Thank you for coming to talk to us, Hope!

By Quin

January 18, 2023: Kris Brame

Today, TGS said, “Bonjour!” to Kris Brame, Mme Gates’ former French student who also had Mrs. Patrick, Dr. Gates, and Dr. Neubauer as his high school teachers. Fluent in French and German, he now works as a translator today after starting his own company By The Word Translation. He talked to us about his love for learning languages and his international educational path.

Kris originally wanted to learn German, inspired by an Austrian exchange student his family hosted when he was in 8th grade. He told us “Everyone was always asking Fabian ‘How do you say that in German?’ and I learned the words.” He took French in high school, then decided to go on a German high school exchange program before graduating. While there, he began to perfect his German and French.

After earning the German equivalent of a high school diploma, Kris decided to stay in Europe to pursue translation studies at the university level in Mainz. He finished his B.S. at Kent State, then interned as a medical interpreter in Indianapolis.  COVID put an end to in-person medical interpretation and at that point, Kris took the big step of starting his own company.

By the Word Translation is Kris’s online enterprise. He is still a medical interpreter, but now mostly does subtitle translations for many clients, most notably Netflix and a French poker show. Unfortunately, Kris couldn’t give any spoilers for our favorite shows! He had some advice for students who wish seriously to master their foreign language: find a good friend who is a native speaker to talk to and use the internet to read and listen to the language you want to learn. Vielen Dank, Kris! 

By Emily

January 4, 2023: Steve Harms

On Wednesday, January 4, our guest was Steve Harms of Purr & Pour Cat Café (who also brought along a feline friend named Houdini). Originally from Boston, Steve graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and made his career in the chemical industry. After retiring, all of that changed. He laughed, “You can graduate from MIT and end up scooping poop.”

The Purr & Pour Cat Café on Front Street is home to about 15 cats at all times. Steve and his wife Patricia founded the business and have been operating it since 2019. Steve thanked us for our support of Purr & Pour (we keep their window decorated for the holidays) and explained why he and Patricia decided to open a cat café in the first place.

Purr & Pour supports St. Frances Animal Center and was inspired by a kitty (Mr. Biscuits) who spent two sad years in a shelter before Steve and Patricia adopted him. “Our mission is to get the cats adopted,” Steve said. The café works closely with St. Frances Animal Center to host cats in their cafe, where hopefully the cats will be adopted by customers. Purr & Pour has already placed over 300 cats! Surplus income is donated to St. Frances.

Besides placing cats in homes, the Cat Café is organizing a series of educational meetings about animal welfare issues in Georgetown.

The series begins this week: on January 11th and January 18th Purr & Pour will be holding an event from 4:30pm to 6:00pm. The event is called So You Want to be a Veterinerian. It will be presented by Dr. Katie Roe-Jarisch, DMV of Fidelis Animal Hospital. Dr. Katie will be presenting about her journey to be a vet and answering questions about what it takes to be a vet.

by Sage

November 16, 2022: Kim Parsons

The Georgetown School has been friends with the Family Justice Center for a long time. Every year before our annual Oyster Roast, Kingfishers help set up for Taste of Georgetown, the Family Justice Center s main fundraiser.  

Kim Parsons, executive director of the FJC, stopped by at Open Forum to tell us about how important the work they do is. FJC is a non-profit founded in 2006 that was created to address the alarming amount of domestic violence occurring in our area. Horry County is number one in the state for violence against women and Georgetown County has similar statistics. FJC has given victims of domestic violence in Georgetown a place to go where they know they can receive the help they need. 

Kim told us that FJC offers multiple services to help victims, such as counseling, court advocacy, and orders of protection. Despite the resources that organizations like this can provide, only about 20% of victims of abuse seek help, she said. It can be difficult to leave an abusive partner and to seek help, not only emotionally but also physically.

“Phones can be used to track people,” Kim told us. Tracking leaves victims at the mercy of their abuser, unable to seek help without their abuser knowing. We all need to realize how bad actors can use information from our phones.

“Red flags in relationships can be difficult to spot at first,” Kim also said. In the beginning, behavior that may seem doting or loving can quickly turn obsessive or harmful. She warned us against partners who call or text obsessively, engage in name-calling, dictate what to wear, refuse to allow contact with family and friends, make threats against you or themselves, or act violently.

At the end of her talk, Kim gave all of the students who had volunteered for Taste of Georgetown a t-shirt to thank them for their help.

By Isaac

Thanksgiving Feast 2022

Thanksgiving finds many of us in a good mood, thinking about all we appreciate about our lives as we look forward to the holidays. Our 10th Annual Thanksgiving Feast was, as always, an occasion to express gratitude for each other—students, teachers, and families alike—by sharing a meal and relaxed fellowship together.

The menu this year did not disappoint: two roasted turkeys, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn pudding, mac-and-cheese, green beans, dressing and fresh fruit and more, all with plenty of gravy. There were also tons of dessert choices: red velvet cake, sopapillas, lemon bars, brownies, pumpkin and Key Lime pies, and much more. The tables were festive with greens and Thanksgiving-themed place settings.

The bounty of this feast each year reminds us of the bounty of our lives and we are grateful for each other. Thank you to everyone who decorated, prepared and brought food, served food, ate food, and cleaned up after the food! Did we mention we had food?

November 9, 2022: Bill Oberst, Jr.

When Bill Oberst began to talk about his journey as an artist, Kingfishers sat up and listened. They were simultaneously surprised, delighted, and encouraged by a monologue that had all of Bill’s many talents on display. At the end, we all burst into warm applause because it was so theatrical, and it was all for us!

Bill is a Georgetown native turned L.A. actor. He actually attended Winyah High School in the same building TGS is in today (Mme Gates was in his classes).

“I was an awkward kid with acne,” Bill told us. “I was angry all the time.” He often felt insecure and that he didn’t belong at school or anywhere. One day, Bill, in a fit of teenage rage, went for a bike ride in the woods. He then stumbled upon a guy reading. The guy held up his book to show Bill. It was a Ray Bradbury novel. Bill then opened the book and the first page he opened made him fall in love with words, with the power of language. That’s why he began acting. He wanted to act out these words.

Bill told us that artists hold up a mirror to world to teach us what we are, what we look like. They help us make sense of the world and ourselves. When young people pursue visual arts, writing, or any other media, they often have one crazy moment that launches them on their path. He described it as a kind of falling in love. And like love, it’s crazy!

”To do this job, you have to be a little crazy”, Bill told us. Being a “little crazy” must work to your advantage, because Bill has a long list of about 200 TV and movie appearances, including a role in the hit TV series Criminal Minds and Scream Queens

Bill left us with this thought: “No art can be done with complete sanity.” Thank you so much for speaking to us today!

By Emily

Oyster Roast 2022

The Oyster Roast was back after a two-year hiatus, and it was amazing! Plenty of sunshine, cool temperatures, great live music by Dwayne DeMello, and all the fresh McClellanville oysters you could eat. The Kingfisher Crew did a great job planning all the moving parts, including a silent auction. When the big day came, we were ready. Parents and families pitched in to prepare and give out hot dogs and pileau and the kids helped out everywhere, especially with running buckets of steamed oysters out to the hungry people. A huge thank you to Sandy Martin, president of the Kingfisher Crew, and to all her loyal helpers for this hugely successful event.

U.S. History Field Trip

On a cold, sunny morning in November, the two U.S. history classes (8th and 12th grades) took a road trip south to visit several historic sites in Georgetown and Charleston counties.

Our first stop was the Sewee Preserve on the South Santee River. After a short walk through the pines to the marsh, we came upon a clam midden, a hill made of clam shells dating from the 1500s. The Indians who made it may have used it as a high, dry vantage point to see up and down the river.

Then we walked along the marsh to an circular, man-made formation in the marsh known as a shell ring, which is much older than the midden (it is from about 4000 years ago). The ring (about 50 feet in diameter) is made of clam shells, oyster shells, and broken pottery. Because it is built up higher than the marsh, it is ringed with distinctive vegetation. Shell rings such as this are found all up and down the East Coast, from Virginia to norther Florida. Their purpose is still unclear.

We got back on Highway 17 and stopped at the Wildlife Observation pull-off on the North Santee. There, we walked along former rice levees and looked for wildlife. Some people got to see ibis and an osprey. Our group was pretty noisy, so we didn’t see that much!

Heading south again across the Santee River Delta, we went into Hampton Plantation, where we were met by a delightful park ranger named Hannah who gave us a guided tour. We got to try pounding Carolina Gold rice in a mortar and we saw the entire house, upstairs and downstairs. We learned a lot about the families who lived there since the 1730s, both free and enslaved, from Hannah’s talk and primary documents that were on display.

We lunched in style on the porch and lawn of Hampton Plantation. Kingfishers gratefully attacked their food and lounged in the sunlight. Some kids tried the joggling board and had a skipping contest.

Our final destination was the Rice Museum in downtown Georgetown. We climbed up three stories to the Brown’s Ferry Vessel display. The Brown’s Ferry Vessel is the oldest colonial boat ever discovered. It was built in the early 1700s and sank in the Black River around 1730-1740. This merchant cargo vessel is a shallow-draft work horse, designed to move goods from the plantations to other points for sale or export.