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

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

October 5: Amy Rogers

On October 5, 2022, TGS students welcomed Ms. Amy Rogers to Open Forum. Ms. Amy can normally be seen helping at the front desk, but today she was front and center talking about her other job–the work she does on her farm.

Ms. Amy’s and Mr. Luke’s tractor followed by the combine.

Ms. Amy and her husband Luke own a 1350-acre farm in Williamsburg County where they grow cotton, corn, wheat, and soybeans. They take an ecologically sound approach to fertilizing the fields. Instead of using commercial fertilizer, they use chicken litter. Chicken litter contains more nutrients, organic matter, and microorganisms. They own two semi trucks that drive to North Carolina twice a day during the growing season to pick it up and bring it back. In addition to growing crops, she also has seven horses, three of which are still working show horses.

Ms. Amy is also working with her twin sister Mary Kay to create a grass-fed beef farm called Twinfields Farm. This farm will contain 10 to 30 cattle and will use high intensity rotational grazing. It will be woman-owned and woman-run.

Ms. Amy invited the school to come out to the farm for a field trip, which would be wonderful! “My favorite part is driving the big farm equipment,” she said. Maybe she will let us drive her combine….

By Emily

September 6, 2022: T. J. Ulrichsen

On Wednesday, September 7, TGS welcomed a familiar face to Open Forum: T. J. Ulrichsen. T. J. took the lectern to address us as the winner of last year’s Senior Speech Award. We were very glad to see him and welcomed him with spontaneous applause.

T. J. is attending Horry Georgetown Technical College as a business major and considering transferring to Coastal in a couple of years.  He believes his chosen major should give him plenty of options for good jobs when he graduates.

“I feel like this school prepared me,” T. J. said. “I would even say it over-prepared me.” He urged everyone, even the youngest Kingfishers, to develop good study habits and to take advantage of all the opportunities placed in from of them. The former TGS student shared some words of wisdom to our current scholars, “The teachers who seem mean or strict are just doing it out of concern for your future.” He also reminded us to keep our school community strong by having respect for each other and treating each other like family.

We wish T. J. all the best and thank him for sharing the path he has chosen with us.

By Emily

Senior Speeches 2022

The proud tradition of Senior Speeches at TGS was upheld on Wednesday, May 11 by Jack, Ethan, and T. J., our 2022 graduates. This was our concluding Open Forum for the year.

Getting ready for senior speeches begins in College Prep class with Dr. Simmons.  Seniors choose a topic to speak about, then deliver a speech to the audience of students, parents, and faculty. Finally, they take questions from the audience. The seniors are evaluated by the faculty and the person with the highest score wins the Senior Speech Award at Graduation.

After Dr. Gates welcomed everyone, especially the parents, he explained why TGS has senior speeches as a graduation requirement. “There are many issues about which reasonable people differ,” he said. “ An educated person should be able to defend a position and also be able to discuss the issue with others in a civil manner.”

Jack was up first and he defended hunting as a great outdoor sport, saying that licensing and fees that hunters pay support conservation efforts, and that certain animal populations (for example, deer) need to be humanely culled. Invasive or undesirable species (feral pigs) can also be eliminated through hunting.

Ethan was second.  He promoted the use of digital archives as a relatively inexpensive way to preserve documents from the past. Digitizing documents makes them both more accessible (easier to use) and accessible to more people.  Old maps, for example, can be enhanced by the computer to look like the day they were drawn.

T. J. was our third senior and he asserted that EVs are not yet ready to replace gas-powered cars.  T. J. took the case of Tesla as an example. Although electricity does not pollute the air in the way gas does, electricity must still be produced by traditional means. Furthermore, the batteries for EVs are huge, heavy, degradable, and difficulty to replace.

The TGS audience supported our 2022 graduates with warm applause and thoughtful questions. Jack, Ethan, and T. J. did a great job and were very glad to have cleared this final hurdle.

October 6, 2021: Marsh Deane

On Wednesday, October 6, our school welcomed Marsh Deane, a former student of many of our teachers, who is now working locally. Marsh grew up in Pawleys Island and graduated from Lowcountry in 2008. He went on to attend Clemson University to study landscape architecture. However, Marsh switched majors a few times before transferring to Coastal Carolina University, where he got his degree. He realized he was on a winding path to discover what he was really passionate about: nature.

“I love nature,” Marsh told us, and so he has returned to his childhood roots. As a kid, Marsh had thrived in the great outdoors, spending a lot of time outdoors on Pawleys Island and the Black River. One of his biggest inspirations growing up was Steve Irwin, the Australian conservationist and star of Crocodile Hunter.  Marsh began to think about a career in nature photography and videography in our area.

So he started MLML Media, partly in response to people’s general attitude towards millennials. “Some people think we are selfish and uncaring,” he said.  “But I want to prove them wrong.”  Marsh is now a videographer/photographer, and shares his enthusiasm for nature by working with different groups on projects.  He has an annual event now, the Tour de Plantersville, which he organizes for the local non-profit Village People.  (This year’s Tour de Plantersville is Saturday, October 30—bring your bike!) Marsh talked to us about self worth, motivation, and other things he has learned throughout his life. “Be undeniable,” Marsh concluded. “Be undeniably you!”  After a challenging school experience last year, this was what the student body needed to hear.

By T. J.

September 22, 2021: Coach Sophie Ricker

Today TGS welcomed the second Open Forum speaker of the year. Sophie Ricker, our new sailing coach, came to introduce herself and the program. She spoke about sailing and the importance of following your passion.

Sophie was young when she first learned to sail (her grandfather made her learn but she wasn’t that into the sport). Once she was at college, though, she signed up for the sailing team at the school’s Activities Fair, again on the advice of her grandfather. At first she didn’t sail much because she was an alternate, but when a team mate got a concussion at Nationals, she began to compete.

It was during her competitive college sailing that Sophie had a “click” moment. She became extremely competitive and won three races. “I was always told to be a piranha, not a goldfish,” she said. “But I became too much of a piranha and became a shark!”

After her success, Sophie decided to take on the job of president of her sailing club. She immediately faced challenges: the team moved up to varsity level and people were quitting. Other people tried to tell her she wasn’t qualified to lead the club and she was starting to doubt herself. Then a friend stepped in. “Don’t worry about who is better qualified,” the friend said. “If you want to do something, just do it.” This is good advice for all of us.

Sophie is helping her parents by managing their donut shop Parlor Donuts at Pawleys Island. She promised to bring some donuts to sailing practice!. Thank you, Sophie! It’s great to have you become part of our school life and community,

By Annika

May 12, 2021: Dr. Gates

We did not have a scheduled speaker today, but Dr. Gates took the podium for some announcements and to present two awards.  Our school had two winners in the Georgetown County Soil and Water Conservation essay contest.  Hannah took second prize and received a check for $25.  Nathan was first and got a check for $50.  “We are very proud of Hannah and Nathan today,” said Dr. Gates.  He went on to encourage students to get all their missing work in before exams.  “The end of school will be here before we know it,” he said.

Dr. Gates ended Open Forum with a surprise announcement—starting the next day, he would no longer be downstairs taking students’ temperatures on the way into school.  Students immediately applauded but some had mixed emotions about the development.  “I feel like he cut us off cold turkey,” said Isaac. Others, like Annika, were excited.  The shift definitely marks the end of an era.

by Emily