November 16, 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 series Criminal Minds and the movie 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. Mrs. 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 and her husband 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

May 5, 2021: Isabella Neubauer

On Wednesday, May 5, we had our first Open Forum of the year. Our guest was Isabella Neubauer, a graduate of our school. She has been a student at Washington University in St. Louis for 3 years. Before orientation her first year, she signed up for Freshman Press, a Journalism group that covers freshman events on campus.

“That was when I knew I wanted to do journalism,” Isabella said. She started out writing in the Featured and Art and Entertainment sections of the school newspaper Student Life (also known as “Stud Life”). The next year, she switched to being a copy editor, reviewing and correcting mistakes in other writers’ articles. She also continued writing for the Art and Entertainment section. 

Isabella, Ethan, and Naomi have a joyful reunion.

When the pandemic hit, it became hard to make newspapers since no one was on campus to read them. The staff soon switched to digital. Isabella is now a managing editor of the online version of Student Life.  She gets to choose topics for articles and runs a staff of 50 students.

Isabella’s visit helped us understand college more and it was great to see how much she enjoys her major. Thank you, Isabella, for educating and inspiring our students.

by Sage

March 4, 2020: Rayekeisha Freeman

“The more I see, the more I know this is my calling,” Ms. Rayekeisha Freeman affirmed at Open Forum on March 4, 2020. Ms. Freeman came to speak to the TGS students about her work at the Department of Social Services, DSS. She attended Lowcountry Prep and was taught by some of our staff today. Ms. Freeman then transferred to Waccamaw High School and then graduated from Hampton University.

As a child she was molested, her father was on crack, and her mother was a single parent. She constantly wondered why she had to experience these horrible things but “trusted the process.” In her senior year at Hampton University her life began to go downhill. She partied more, fell in love, and became pregnant all in the same year. She was left at a crossroads and decided to change her whole life plan. At Hampton University she had majored in Biology, planning to become a doctor. After her own experiences, she decided to switch to social work. Once she left school she worked at a psychiatric hospital for adults and then moved back to South Carolina.

Ms. Freeman’s presentation was on all aspects on the DSS. She jokingly said that her job (Child Protective Services) was known as “baby snatching.” Ms. Freeman began with an ice breaker: she had students stand next to a line and, if the question she asked applied to them, then they were to cross it. She asked questions like “Are you male or female?” and “Do you know anyone with a drug addiction?” She also educated the students on Foster Care, out-of-home safety, and what makes a case. She talked on all case indications of physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and contributing to delinquencies. She ended with a quote from the Bible, Jeremiah 29:11, which explained her saying “trust the process.”

She opened the floor to questions and was excited to see so many hands raised. One student asked her, “What was your hardest case?” She answered with a story about three girls (ages 7, 5, and 2) who had been molested. Another student asked if depictions of child abuse in media are often realistic. She explained that it depends on the movie or show, but usually the abuse is realistic while the ease with which parents get back their kids is not. She feels that she has to be an advocate for these children and look out for them. Thanks to Ms. Rayekeisha Freeman for speaking at Open Forum. The students learned a lot and were thoroughly engaged.

By Margaret

February 19, 2020: Dedric Bonds

Mr. Dedric Bonds, one of our own beloved teachers, came to speak to us about a part of South Carolina’s history.  He is currently publishing a book on the subject, and was delighted by the chance to share it with us. The subject in question is the life of Joseph H. Rainey, a Georgetown local who made history when he was elected to the Senate.

Mr Rainey was born to former slaves.  His father was a barber, and Rainey learned the trade from him.  Little is known about his early life, but in the 1850s he travelled to Philadelphia, where he met his future wife Susan.  The two of them returned to South Carolina, where Rainey continued his work as a barber. However, during the Civil War he was recruited to serve the Confederate Army.  As soon as they got the chance, he and his family escaped the war on a boat bound for Bermuda, where they would live for many years.

After the war was over, Rainey and his family returned to South Carolina.  He began to get involved in politics, representing the Republican party first at local levels and then for the state.  In 1870, he became the first African-American ever elected to the United States Senate. While serving as Senator, he supported many influential bills, such as the Anti-KKK Act.  Eventually he returned to Georgetown, where he died and was buried in the “Baptist Cemetery.” To this day, his grave has not been found. Although his name has been largely forgotten, Joseph H. Rainey made history and should always be remembered for his accomplishments. Thank you, Mr Bonds, for enlightening us on this fascinating period of history.

By Ryleigh