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

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?

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.

We Love River Day

What a pleasure it was to gather at Dr. and Mrs. Crosby’s home on Black River for our annual River Day. Friday was rained out so we all turned up in the afternoon on Saturday, August 20. There was a little bit of everything going on all day: water was splashed, kayaks and paddleboards were paddled (and sometimes overturned), and the river was full of happy kids swimming and tubing.

By the time parents arrived to pick up their kids, we were all exhausted and exultant, a time-honored Kingfisher tradition.

Thank you, Dr. and Mrs. Crosby, for your generosity in sharing your perfect-for-fun home. Thank you to Mr. Jim and Ms. Mahi and Ms. Patti for bringing their boats and helping with lifeguarding. It was a day to remember for sure.

Awards Day and Graduation 2022

“Prepare to be amazed!” said TGS Board president Joyce Gates as she welcomed students and families to Awards Day 2022. Everyone was wearing their school uniforms and looking very sharp (although we were a little damp from a thunderstorm that morning which had flooded the downtown and caused some delay).

Dr. Gates began by announcing the names of all the students who won outside awards this year and they all received a warm recognition. “We go up against schools many times our size,” he said, “and regularly come back with awards.”  He also noted that our students often garner compliments for how well they conduct themselves at events.

Then Dr. Gates took a moment to reflect on the value of awards and the dangers of giving a reward where none has been earned, using the challenges of our recent Spring Trip as an example.

Finally, the big moment arrived–the presentation of the six TGS awards. Teachers came forward to give them. The winners are as follows: Isaac Shumard (Academic), Ella Cheek (Art), Annika Villafranca (Kingfisher), T. J. Ulrichsen (Senior Speech), Jack Small (Service), and Morgan Edwards (Sportsmanship/Extracurricular). These six outstanding students stood at the front of the Auditorium beaming and enjoyed their well-deserved moment.

The day passed very quickly and soon it was time to gather again for Graduation at 5:00. In the hall, there was controlled chaos as the Kingfisher Crew set up the reception and families arrived. In Senora’s room, T. J., Jack, and Ethan were putting on their robes and mortarboards and getting nervous.

At 5:00, the faculty processed in and took their places. The graduates waited for “Pomp and Circumstance” to begin, then walked slowly to the front of the Auditorium. Dr. Gates invited everyone to be seated.

Father James Touzeau gave the invocation, asking God’s blessing on the graduates and their families, then Dr. Gates invited Ethan to give the Salutation. Overcome with emotion, Ethan thanked his teachers and friends and said that he would “miss this place so much.” Then Jack stood up to give the Valediction, also expressing his appreciation for his education and the TGS community.

Finally, Dr. Gates called the roll: Ethan Anderson (U. S. C.), Jack Small (Coastal), and T. J. Ulrichsen (undecided) were duly certified and received their diplomas from Mrs. Joyce Gates. It was a grand moment when they finally switched their tassels and threw their mortarboards towards the ceiling to thunderous applause. Congratulations to the 2022 graduates and their families!

New Heights: Chattooga School Trip 2022

Early on the morning of April 25, sleepy Kingfishers gathered in front of the school, clutching their pillows, sleeping bags, and snacks. No one knew where we were going except the teachers! As the bus pulled out, Dr. Gates announced our destination: Wildwater Adventures, a camp where we could enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chatooga River.

The first real stop was Clemson University where we toured the campus with a student guide. Clemson is Dr. Simmons’ alma mater. There were lots of spring flowers and we could see rolling foothills in the distance. (Whenever we are on the road, we take the opportunity to visit colleges so students will have a better idea of what type of college they might like to attend).

We arrived fairly late at the Whitewater Adventure Lodge and got our bunk assignments. A lot of people were in yurts but some girls ended up in a cabin. After a dinner of hotdogs and hamburgers, Kingfishers ate s’mores and watched the starry sky until lights out. One yurt had an issue because one person had to have a light on to sleep and another person couldn’t sleep with light in the room (somehow they worked it out).

The second day of the adventure, we got to try the ropes course and climbing wall. Many people were able to conquer their fear of walking on ropes up to forty feet in the air. By at least trying the ropes course, we could earn points for our team. The first group even convinced Mrs. Crosby to go up there. Some kids had a unique way of negotiating the rope bridge, which Dr. Gates described as “samba-ing.”

The team-building activities were even more challenging than the ropes course, although they were closer to the ground. We had to flip a tarp over while standing on it, guide a blindfolded person to an object, get our whole team, one at a time, through a tire without touching it, and help each other across an obstacle course. There were some tears of frustration but also joy as people figured out how to manage each challenge. Sage’s favorite was the blindfold challenge “because it was funny to watch people walk into poles!”

Meanwhile, the 40 foot climbing wall was very popular and almost everyone tried it. “Baryck, the twins, and Zoey did the rock wall fifty billion times,” said Annika.

In the afternoon, we jumped back in the bus for a tour a Furman University, a lush green campus with a lovely lake in the middle. Furman is Mrs. Crosby’s alma mater. Instead of going back to the camp for dinner,  Dr. Gates took everyone to Fiesta, a Mexican restaurant outside of Greenville.  All forty of us sat at one long table and Baryck ate a lemon—he was the entertainment. By the time we got back to the camp, everyone was totally exhausted. “BEDTIME!” screamed the MS boys in Mr. Culbertson’s yurt as they hurled themselves into their sleeping bags. “On this trip,” said Nathan, “you slept when you could.”

On the next morning, we had breakfast and got everything cleaned up and our stuff packed. Then it was time to go white-water rafting! For many students, this was their first experience. Our guides gave us lifejackets and helmets and a paddle. They instructed everyone on what to do and what not to do out on the Chattooga.

After a short bus ride to the launch site, we boarded our rafts. The guides took the lead and everyone tried to listen closely for instructions about how to paddle. Dr. Gates told everyone never to let go of the T-bar on their paddle.

The whole trip took about three hours and the ride was fantastic. The climax of the trip was to drop through Bull Sluice down its Category 4 rapids. We had the choice to walk down or go down in the raft; most students chose to shoot down in the raft. It was a blast! “It’s like you’re dropping through a hole in the river,” said Dr. Gates. “You go deep into the water at the bottom then the raft pushes you up.”

As the adrenaline wore off, we spent some time jumping off rocks into the river and enjoying the sun.

It was soon time to head back to Georgetown. Tired Kingfishers said their good-byes to Wildwater Adventures and took to the highway. After dinner at Zaxby’s outside Columbia (where Larson got hot sauce and it became “a thing”), we arrived back at the school around 10:30.  We needed this trip and it was fabulous!

By Annika and Ethan Ab