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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!

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?

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.