Personal Finance Looks at Cars

The Personal Finance class visited a second small business in downtown Georgetown on Wednesday, May 12. Karen Hansmeyer of P. I. Kustomz graciously agreed to show us around. P.I. Kustomz is a body shop on St. James Street with an ever-changing collection of cool cars on display. Karen runs the front office and her brother Paul works on the cars, transforming them from wrecks into seriously nice vehicles.

Jack and Jordan examine an unpromising specimen.

Karen showed us the showroom where an old Scout International has been restored to its former glory. She explained their business model: they see the potential in old or damaged cars, buy them for $200-$400, then flip them to sell for up to ten times the price.

“My brother can see what others can’t,” Karen told us. She introduced us to Paul. Paul invited us to come into the body shop–two large areas with a paint room off to the side. Everywhere we looked, there were Jeeps.

“People just love Jeeps,” said Paul. “All of these I’m working on now are already sold.” We saw a Scrambler, a custom-chopped Gladiator, a pink lowrider, several Wranglers, and even some military Jeeps. Paul has recently figured out how to put an electric engine into a Jeep to satisfy some of his customers. “I’m not worried about the future of my business,” he said. “I can always adapt.”

Ethan, Jack, Kelsi, and Jordan peer through the store front.

Paul explained that their father had had a mechanic’s shop in South Africa–that’s how he got his start working on cars. “I was out working with him every day after school, even as a little boy,” he said. At age 19, he was hired by a parts store. He reorganized the store top to bottom and took charge when the boss was away. “I did everything from making the coffee to taking orders to managing the money,” he said, noting that he has always had mind for business.

Karen and Paul’s dad taught them to be self-sufficient and to “think outside the box.” Karen told the story of wanting a watch when she was growing up. Her dad said, fine, but she had to pay for it. Rather than letting her work in a shop for wages, he forced her to come up with her own way of making money. She and Paul started a pet-dipping business (treating dogs for ticks) in their neighborhood, which taught her a valuable lesson and got her the watch.

Paul worked for many years in the Pawleys area for various car dealers refurbishing and repairing their stock. He quickly outgrew his workshop behind his house. “There were days when my wife would come home and not find a place to park,” he laughed. She told him he had to find a shop or a new house, so he eventually acquired the property on St. James Street four years ago.

Paul thrives on being self-employed. “Some people are content to draw a paycheck,” he told us. “But to really get ahead, you’ve got to start something yourself.” All of P. I. Kustomz’ business comes through word-of-mouth and they have more business than they can handle.

Paul and Karen both stressed the value of hard work and innovation when developing a new business. “You have to think differently from everyone else,” Paul said. “And you need to stick your neck out and take risks.” He had lots of advice on money management and how to be a successful entrepreneur, so this was a great field trip for Personal Finance. The class had a good time asking questions and looking at all the cool cars. Thank you, P. I. Kustomz for an entertaining and enlightening tour!

Success at the Crazy Legs Golf Tournament!

After months of preparation and a rain delay, the first annual Crazy Legs Golf Tournament took place on May 1 at Wedgefield Country Club. Volunteers set everything up the night before, then started turning up at 7:00 Saturday morning to run the event. It was a gorgeous day at Wedgefield Country Club and the golfers were all in an excellent mood, especially given the early hour.  They registered with Ms. Sandy, received their goody bags, then pulled out their wallets to purchase mulligans and chances on a 50/50 raffle.  Then they jumped in their carts.  After a welcome from Mitch Thompkins, owner of Wedgefield, the carts were off for a shotgun start around 8:30.

Throughout the course, golfers encountered several hole-in-one contest holes.  However, no one was successful and none of those prizes were won. After all of the golfers were finished, students helped serve pilau in the Wedgefield dining room and the winners of the silent auction and Crazy Legs Contest were announced.

This was the first year for this event and it was a huge success, thanks to everyone’s help.  We got almost $10,000 for our scholarship fund! The leaders of the Kingfisher Crew—Sandy, Mahi, and Sheila—did a great job and everyone pitched in to get sponsors for the tournament and stuff for the silent auction.  We want to thank all our sponsors, especially our platinum sponsor Graham Funeral Home and our silver sponsors Design House & Daniel Engineering.  What a great day!  See you next year!

by Annika

Halloween 2020

Is it possible to enjoy Halloween without candy? Kingfishers say yes! On Halloween morning, the halls were filled with costumed students, including an eight-foot inflatable dinosaur, various scary characters, Alice in Wonderland, Dopey, and many more. Luckily, temperatures outside dropped, so the kids managed to stay masked and costumed for the whole day, which made it all the more festive—even without candy. Once again, Halloween was sweet day at TGS!


Kingfishers were on hand the afternoon and evening of September 26 at the historic Kaminski House in downtown Georgetown to help set up the major fund-raising event for the South Carolina Environmental Law Project. The annual SCELP “Wild Side” dinner and silent auction took place on the front lawn, under the oaks overlooking the Sampit River.

Mrs. Patrick had volunteered to make centerpieces for all the tables and she also corralled a small but industrious group of TGS students (and Dr. Neubauer) to help with setting-up. Together they festooned the boughs of the trees with paper jelly-fish. They brought out tables and chairs to set up the dining area on the grass. They helped wherever they were needed, including during the dinner itself to bus tables and manage the trash.

We Kingfishers are proud to help out SCELP, whose mission is to provide legal assistance to all who want to protect our natural resources or are threatened by environmental degradation in our state. “These last ten months have been life-altering for us all,” says Amy Armstrong, executive director of SCELP. “We must act together to preserve and safeguard South Carolina’s Wild Side.” Kingfishers are proud to help out SCELP, whose mission is to provide legal assistance to all who want to protect our natural resources or are threatened by environmental degradation in our state. Thank you to TGS volunteers Nico, Isaac, Ethan, Sagel, Alivia, Annika and of course to Mrs. Patrick and Dr. Neubauer.

Personal Finance takes a trip

On Wednesday, May 5, the Personal Finance class took a field to trip to PoBoy’s Restaurant Discount to see what this small business was all about.  We were standing in front of an ugly blue machine made of cast iron near the front of the store.  It was a pot-bellied contraption with an opening at the top.  It was lined with abrasive rock, and we could see that it rotated and used steam from two valves.

“I have a prize for whoever can tell me what this is for,” said Rodney Long, who with Dwayne Christensen owns PoBoy’s Discount.  The kids debated for awhile, then T.J. came up with the correct answer. “Is it a potato peeler?”  he asked.  “Yes,” said Rodney.  “We got this bad boy from the Navy.”  He then gave T. J. the promised prize—a cafeteria serving spoon.

Finding out that there are industrial potato peelers is just one of many surprises that await the visitor to PoBoy’s.  Rodney and Dwayne deal in used restaurant equipment, a service that helps entrepreneurs get started in the restaurant business without laying out a lot of cash for freezers, stoves, and other machinery.  Rodney explained that restaurant equipment is built to last and does not depreciate in value that much, so buying used is often the best idea.  If the restaurant fails (and up to 50% of them do within five years), PoBoy’s will buy the equipment back to resell.  This allows the restaurant to recoup some of its losses.

Among the other weird and wonderful machines we saw were a bun-butterer, a hugely expensive steamer, and stand mixers that can handle a bazillion gallons of batter at one time.  There was even an abstract statue of Bob Marley with twisted metal for dreadlocks from the now-defunct Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach.

If you have a hard-to-buy-for friend or family member with a birthday coming up, check out PoBoy’s for a gift.  The strange selection of stock always has something no one would ever think of!  Thank you, Rodney, for the great tour!

Moon Over the Bay

On Monday, April 26, several members of the Astronomy class met Dr. Gates at East Bay Park at 8:30 in the evening.  Dr. Gates had set up the school telescope so they could look at the Moon.  In Astronomy class, the kids have been closely following all celestial events including the landing of the Mars Rover Perseverance and its helicopter Ingenuity.

This particular night was very interesting because there was a Pink Super Moon.  The Pink Super Moon appears 7% larger and 15% brighter because the moon is at its closest point to the Earth and we see it magnified through the Earth’s atmosphere.  It was a very good night for observation.

Bristol, Isadora, William, Evan, and Nathan lined up to take their turns at the telescope eyepiece.  The Moon was amazing clear and bright.  The kids could see craters and shiny patches and shadows.  Dr. Gates and Bristol were able to take some pictures with their phones through the lens.

As the Moon continued to rise, Dr. Gates turned the telescope towards the Big Dipper and focused it on the star at the end of the “handle.”  Through the telescope, the kids could see that this star is really two stars (Mizar and Alcor).  Mizar and Alcor revolve around each other—they are called a binary.

The Astronomy moon watch broke up a little after 9:00, when clouds began to cover Mars and spoil the view.  Thank you, Dr. Gates, for setting up the cool viewing.

In the Show!

With the world on pause, it’s been hard for everyone to do exciting activities and events. However, the pandemic has not stopped us from showing our artistic abilities. TGS art students participated in the Horry-Georgetown County High School 21st Annual Juried Exhibition, keeping up with a tradition Mrs. Patrick started in 2013.  High school students who entered had a chance to have their artwork chosen for the prestigious show.

This year, ninth-grader Sagel Springs got in with an amazing painting entitled “Transition.”  The work began as an art assignment which asked students to create a self-portrait with acrylic paint.  Sagel knew that was the one to be submitted to the art show as soon as it was finished. 

“This piece is about the huge changes I’ve made in daily life to find myself.” Sagel says. “Honestly, this portrait means a lot to me not just as an artist but as a person.”

The exhibition will be on display at the Myrtle Beach Art Museum and online from April 13-May 22.  Artist and educator Yvette L. Cummings will judge all the entries. Cummings received her MFA at the University of Cincinnati’s School of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning. She is currently teaching at Coastal Carolina University.  The date for the awards ceremony has not yet been announced.

“Getting into the exhibition felt good,” Sagel says. “This is the first art show I’ve not been rejected from.”  At TGS, we are proud to have students who can freely express themselves. Congratulations to Sagel and Mrs. Patrick!

                                                                                                By Sage

Happy Birthday, Will Shakespeare!

Kingfishers celebrated William Shakespeare’s 457th birthday on April 23 by donning Shakespeare Festival tee shirts and eating cupcakes provided by Mrs. Crosby.  We are sad not to have been able to host the American Shakespeare Center this year for the Georgetown Shakespeare Festival.  But students still enjoyed the Bard’s sonnets and Romeo and Juliet this spring in class.  The eighth grade even acted out several scenes involving sword-fighting. Thank you, Mrs. Crosby!

Craziest Golf Outfit

On a warm and sunny March afternoon, Kingfishers welcomed spring by having a Craziest Golf Outfit contest. The event was organized by the Kingfisher Crew (led by Ms. Sandy, Ms. Mahi, and Ms. Sheila) and was designed to publicize our Crazy Legs Golf Tournament among parents and students.  Students wore their most hilarious golf outfits to school and got out of class early for the celebration.

Many people had personalized their outfits in unforgettable ways—Gracin with flowered leggings, Mason with a green skirt, Bryan with a enormous pants, Evan with s Solo cup, Dr. Gates with knickers, Jackson D. with some sort of tam o’shanter.  Middle School really got into dressing up.

Kingfishers burst out of class to the front lawn at 2:30 and saw tables set up with chips and drinks and bubbles for them to enjoy, plus prizes for the winners in the categories of Cheesiest (a package of Velveeta), Hammiest (a canned ham) and Craziest Overall (a large plastic bottle full of coins).  After a short parade of contestants, the winners turned out to be Evan (Cheesiest), Gracin (Hammiest), and Nathan (Craziest).

Not only did the winners get something out of this, but so did the spectators. Families who attended learned more about the golf tournament and signed up as volunteers.  Students got a good snack and a fun contest.  Kingfishers really enjoyed the afternoon antics.

                                                                                                By Emily P.

Middle School Visits Yawkey

“DO NOT ENTER,” said the sign at the bottom of South Island Road.  That’s how everybody on the field trip to the Yawkey Wildlife Preserve knew they were on the right road. Parents and teacher chaperons drove around the sign and parked at the South Island Landing.  The group of sixth and seventh graders awaited the ferry in the chilly March air under a cloudy sky, running around the site and trying to skip rocks in the ICW.

Around 9:00, Mr. Jim Lee of DNR crossed over in the boat to pick us up and take us over the water to Cat Island.  He gave us a brief introduction to the Yawkey Wildlife Preserve—31 square miles of pristine coastal land donated by noted conservationist Tom Yawkey to the state of South Carolina in 1976.  Then we hopped on the bus and headed out to explore. 

Our first stop was a recently burned section of pine forest, where Mr. Jamie Dozier of DNR taught us how to recognize loblolly, long-leaf, and pond pines.  We had the first of many conversations about forest fires, which play a vital role in the life cycle of the long-leaf pine and that of many other species.

The land that is today the Yawkey Wildlife Preserve looks pretty wild and untouched at first glance.  However, several industries have thrived here over the years, leaving behind evidence of human activity.  Mr. Jamie showed us a “cat tree”—a pine tree which used to be regularly exploited for its sap (resin).  He also explained that a lumber business in the 1920s cut down almost every tree on the acreage. We saw a fallen metal chimney and a small water cistern that were used in the steam engines of its lumber milling and planing equipment. We also saw traces of the railroad tracks that hauled the boards to waiting barges on the Santee Delta.

Mr. Jim then drove us to see a forest of mostly long-leaf pines, where three colonies of red-cockaded woodpeckers make their home.  These members of the Picidae family are endangered because they only nest in long-leaf pines.  The long-leaf pines (oddly enough) have been dying out over many decades because there were not enough forest fires.  We saw mature long-leaf pines with white bands painted around their trunks; these are where the wood-peckers nest.  Sadly, we did not see any of these fascinating birds but Mr. Jim assured us that if we can come back during their nesting season in May, they would be all over.

More evidence of human activity appeared as we drove long to another area of the property.  Mr. Jim brought us to a beautiful 40-foot chimney fashioned from handmade bricks which used to serve the rice mill.  The rice mill burned down completely but the tall chimney remains intact. We saw the handprints of the workers who made the bricks in the clay.

Finally, Mr. Jim talked to us about the small industry of tar and pitch production. Workers (known as “tar-heels”) would build a mound of heart-of-pine scraps, cover it completely with dirt with a small air hole, then set a smoldering, underground fire.  The fire released heavy resin from the wood in the form of tar and pitch.  These products were stored in barrels and sold to shipbuilders in the U.S. and Europe.  Producing tar and pitch was an extremely hardscrabble way to make a living for these forest folk.

Seeing the forest soaring above its fire-blackened bed was really magical. “Can we just stay here a little longer?” asked Nathan.  Mr. Jim thought it was a great idea.  Off the kids went, running through the trees, hollering and exploring.  When it was time to board the bus again, everyone had filthy shoes and soot-blackened pants, source of much amusement.

Our final lesson with Mr. Jim was about the sense of well-being which spending time in the forest confers.  “Your blood pressure drops and your cognitive function goes up,” he told us. “It’s especially important for young people.”  Lucky for us, we are invited to come back anytime.  Kingfishers had experienced first-hand the joy and fun of being outside in such a beautiful, protected place.

Thank you to Mr. Jim Lee and Mr. Jamie Dozier of DNR for being our tour guides.  Thank you, Dr. Neubauer, for setting up this wonderful field trip and thanks to Mrs. Crosby and Mme Gates for chaperoning.  “This was the coolest field trip ever,” said Quinn.