12/03 Dr Andrea Bergstrom

Dr Andrea Bergstrom, a professor at Coastal Carolina University, came to speak to our school about social media.  She got her PhD in communications at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2011.  Since then, she has been a researcher at CCU studying media and its effect on human behavior.  In the world of the internet, she warned students, there are three key points to remember: safety, privacy, and thinking critically.

Internet safety is more than just not meeting with strangers.  You should never give anyone your username or password, even if they’re your friend, because you never know what they could do with it.  “If somebody sends a mean message from your account, you can get in trouble for it.”  She warned students, sharing with them the story of a college student who was expelled after a friend used his account for nefarious purposes.  She also said that giving away any information about yourself- whether it’s your full name, your address, or even just a blurry picture- can lead to people tracking you down.  Even if you think you’re being careful, small clues can add up until someone knows exactly who you are and where you live.

Once you post something online, it never goes away.  “You don’t control your information anymore.” Dr Bergstrom explained.  “Even if you delete it, you never know who’s taken a screenshot.”  She warned students that their future depends on what they post online; from college admissions boards to potential employers, everyone has the power to do a background check.  As a general rule, she advised that “if you wouldn’t want your parents to see it, you shouldn’t post it.”

“Have you ever looked something up or liked a post, and then the next day you see an ad for that exact same thing?”  She asked the students, and almost everyone nodded.  “You’re like, ‘whoah, it’s magic!’  Nope, it’s capitalism.”  She explained how websites, such as Facebook and Instagram, can share your search history with potential advertisers.  If you buy something that’s been advertised to you, such as from a sponsored post, you never know who is benefiting from your money.  Despite her warnings, Dr Bergstrom acknowledged that the internet can be a very useful tool- so long as you’re careful.

By Ryleigh

11/13 – Judy Sweitzer

“We all have a gift to give,” said Mrs. Judy Sweitzer, who came to tell us about her recent mission trip to Guatemala.  Mrs. Sweitzer’s gift was spending two weeks helping with medical and dental problems in the small village of Zapato, an annual visit sponsored by her church, Pawleys Island Christian.

Mrs. Sweitzer told us that life in Guatemala is hard.  The country has seen explosive population growth—400% in the past fifty years.  About half of Guatemalans don’t have clean water and 57% live below the poverty line on $2 a day.  One in fifteen children dies before age five; children who survive most likely will not attend school, with the result that 60% of Guatemalans cannot read.

Mrs. Sweitzer and her team spend most of their time dealing with a stream of villagers who do not have access to dental care.  The dentists administered local anesthesia and pulled teeth; Mrs. Sweitzer sterilized instruments, applied fluoride to children’s teeth, and passed out toothbrushes, “Can you imagine if you had an infected tooth and the dentist was only around once in the fall?” she asked us.

The dental team had time to enjoy Guatemala’s rich culture and landscape.  Mrs. Sweitzer explained that Zapato is close to an active volcano called Fuego, which rumbled, sent up smoke, and even gushed some lava while they were there.  “It was pretty amazing,” she said.  Mrs. Sweitzer encouraged us to give of ourselves to help others.  “You will be more enriched by the experience than the people you give to,” she promised.

By Fisher

October 23, 2019: Patricia Devine-Harms

Patricia Devine-Harms, owner and operator of the Purr & Pour Cat Café on Front Street, was our guest speaker on October 23. Patricia moved to Georgetown from New Jersey several years ago with her husband Steve, but did not leave behind the commitment to advocacy which has always been her passion. In N. J., she helped victims of domestic violence, troubled teens, and fought against human trafficking.  Once she got settled in Georgetown, she decided to help St. Frances Animal Shelter by opening the Purr & Pour Cat Café.

Cat cafés redefine the whole cat adoption process and make it a pleasant experience.  Patrons can interact with the kitties in a clean and quiet setting; there are no cages and no pressure.  Patricia did not enter into this business lightly.  She visited many cat cafés, contacted their owners for information, and studied their websites. Inspired, she chose Front Street as the perfect place to open her very own Cat Café.  Kingfishers were interested to learn that the Purr & Pour is not a non-profit.  Patricia did not want to compete in any way with St. Frances—all adoption fees go right back to the charity.  To date, the Purr & Pour has placed 24 cats into loving homes since opening in June.  “We measure success by adoptions,” she said.  “It’s not about making a profit, but making a difference.”  Cat cafés around the U.S. have created opportunities for over 16,000 cat adoptions in the last five years!

Patricia emphasized that cooperation and collaboration are key components in creating a successful business. She is cooperating with Indigo Bakery, and Coffee Break Café to supply sandwiches and coffee to the customers. She is supported by people in the community.  And cat cafés are a beautiful collaboration between people and animals: they not only provide a safe space for people to relax and relieve stress, but they also create a safe haven for cats to live and be introduced to people.

By T. J.

Mock Trial

Last Saturday, the middle school Mock Trial team met at the Municipal Center to compete in their regional competition, sponsored by the SC Bar Association.  Team sponsors Dr Gates and local lawyer Liz Attias were there to guide them, but now it was up to the students. They presented their case in a real courtroom, judged by a panel of real-life judges.  The team consisted of Destiny, Matthew, Camper, Stone, J’Marion, Bristol, Corin, Evan, Kipper, and Blake. “It was hard. It was challenging.” Destiny explained. “I messed up one thing, but I think I did pretty well.”

The team won several awards from the competition.  They won the first round, in which their plaintiffs went up against another team’s defense.  Although they lost their own defensive round, the team was pleased with their results. Camper was named the Most Effective Plaintiff, and Fletcher was named Most Effective Witness for their round.  “It was very long and tiring,” Camper admitted. “But in the end, it was a lot of fun!”

By Ryleigh

Robotics Victory

After months of hard work and practice, the middle school Robotics Team was ready to compete in their first competition of the year.  Annika, Morgan, Baryck, Mason, Gracin, Quinn, Bryan, Gabby, and Ay’Shona were excited to show off their skills and explore the world of LEGO robotics. On November 9, the team piled into Mrs Crosby’s car and set off to Ten Oaks Middle School, where the Grand Strand Qualifying Tournament was being held.  This year’s challenge was to create a robot that could help a blind person shop for groceries. “We did good on a lot of things,” Annika recalled, “But our robot was kind of acting up a bit. It was definitely a fun experience.”

The team, which they named the Angry Nerds, took home the Core Values Award.  This highly-coveted award gave them enough points to qualify for the state competition.  Although they did not win anything else, the Angry Nerds had a great time showing off their technical skills and learned a lot about robotics.  The next competition will be held on December 14 at Cane Bay Middle School, and the team is looking forward to it.

By Ryleigh

The Spooky Season

Since the first days of October, the anticipation had been building to celebrate the “spooky season.”  The last day of the month, the day we’ve been waiting for was finally here: Halloween. Disguised as everything from cowboys to ghosts, almost the entire school was dressed to impress for the special day.  “We’re the Spice Girls!” Mrs. Patrick announced, sporting a red apron and a seasoning label along with several of her fellow teachers. Other highlights included a penguin, Wednesday Addams, a turtle, witches, superheros, movie characters, and a pair of middle-schoolers jointly disguised as a horse.

At lunch, teachers and students lined up their cars outside for a Trunk-n-Treat.  As students piled candy (and clementines) into their bags, they chatted about the day and their plans for that night.  Immediately after the Trunk-n-Treat, students showed off their costumes in the annual Halloween parade. “It’s the best holiday,” Ryleigh sighed wistfully. “And I can’t wait to start planning my costume for next year.”  Thanks to student president Margaret and to the entire Student Council for getting the day organized!

By Ryleigh

Oysters in the afternoon

Our hot, humid fall weather broke just in time for the 7th Annual Oyster Roast on November 3.  Sunday afternoon was crisp and sunny—perfect for eating oysters under the big tent in Francis Marion Park.  After weeks of careful preparation by the PTO, everything was ready: tables and chairs set up, plywood delivered, bake sale and silent auction items on display, and Will Ness playing his tunes.

There were also three propane cookers in the parking lot cranking out piles and piles of steaming bivalves!  It was an amazing afternoon full of good food, sunshine, and friendship, all for the benefit of our scholarship fund.

Our leadership in this endeavor was awesome—thank you, Niki Howard, Sandy Martin, and Susie Kaminski.  Thank you, students, for pitching in (even though you didn’t get to keep your tips!) and thank you, parents, for pulling together to make this the most successful Oyster Roast to date. Our gratitude to the Family Justice Center for the use of the tables, chairs, and tents.

MS Math Meet 2019

It’s hard to imagine that students would volunteer to spend their free time doing math, but then again, anything is possible at TGS!  Demand for the Middle School Math Meet was so high that the school had to split up into two teams.  On October 22, the huge group of middle schoolers piled into cars and set off to the Sumpter Civic Center.  They were escorted there by Mrs Crosby, Mrs Craig, and Mr and Mrs Howard.  On the two teams are Morgan, Annika, Camper, Blake, Trey, Destiny, J’Marion, Matthew, Gabby, and Baryck.

“We did all right, actually.”  Camper shared after the event was over.  “And we raided the vending machines.”  She also described meeting new friends from the other teams, although she could not recall their names.  Morgan and Matthew earned the highest scores of their teams, although they did not place in the overall competition.  Regardless, they had a great time and it was a fun learning experience for everyone.

Oyster Roast Sunday!

Front Street is the place to be for oyster-lovers next Sunday afternoon November 3 as The Georgetown School is hosts its 7th Annual Oyster Roast from 2-5:00 in Francis Marion ParkTickets are $25 and include all-you-can-eat oysters, chicken pilau, and hot dogs, along with the mellow sounds of live music by Will Ness.  Soft drinks, beer, and wine will be served (advance tickets include one adult beverage/soft drink). There will be a Silent Auction and bake sale, plus lots of fellowship and fun.  All proceeds benefit the scholarship fund of TGS.  Walk-ups are welcome, or call 843-520-4359 for tickets.

Old Gunn Church

The sun was high as the British Literature class pulled up to Old Gunn Church.  The forest around it was alive with the sounds of nature, but the church itself was silent.  “It’s beautiful.”  Ryleigh realized, staring up at the church.  Moss-patched walls and a still-crumbling bell tower stood high above the trees, looming over the world below. Overgrown grass and weeds grew wild between gravestones.  This church had once stood in stark contrast to the wilderness around it, but now the forest was taking it back.

The church, now a national historical marker, has been a part of Georgetown’s history for generations.  Dr. Simmons lectured the class on the church’s history, explaining that it had been built to serve various plantation owners who lived in the area.  The church fell into disrepair after the American Civil War changed the status quo of the south.  Then, in a mysterious fire during the 1960s, most of the church burned down.  Only the front wall and the bell tower remained, as well as the numerous gravestones still hidden in the weeds behind it.  When asked what caused the fire, Dr. Simmons simply shrugged.  “Nobody knows.  It’s a mystery.”

The fire isn’t the only mystery surrounding Old Gunn Church.  Originally known as Prince Frederick Episcopal Church, it is most famous for its supposed haunting- the ghost of one John Gunn.  Legend has it that Gunn, who worked for the church, fell to his death from the bell tower and now his spirit haunts the grounds.  Fortunately, the British Literature class did not have any encounters with this supposed spirit during their visit to the church.  Visitors are no longer able to enter the church, which is fenced off from the general public, but the students still had a great time peering through the fence to look at the almost-forgotten landmark.  After learning all about the history and legend surrounding the church, and taking plenty of pictures, it was time to head back to school.  “I wish we could have stayed longer.”  Margaret sighed wistfully.  “It’s just so peaceful here.”

By Ryleigh