Graduation 2020

On May 29, The Georgetown School hosted its seventh commencement ceremony for our four seniors, faculty, and a few family members and friends. The atmosphere was different, with everyone seated separately in the rows of the Winyah Auditorium, masks covering their faces. But the same joy was there as we celebrated the crowning success of Margaret, Qulex, Camille, and Ryleigh.

Mr. Bonds gave the invocation and then Dr. Gates took the lectern to speak on the challenges that the notion of education is facing today. He affirmed that “our graduates know what a real education looks like.”

Then Margaret gave her salutation. She thanked the teachers and recalled fond memories with each of her classmates. “English is not my best subject,” she said, “But Dr. Simmons turned it into my favorite this past year.”

Ryleigh gave the valediction. She was here when the school began in 2013 and remembers helping to fix up classroom when it was about to open. “They put a paintbrush in my hand,” she said. “I was 11 years old.”

Dr. Gates certified the graduates and called the roll. He talked about each one individually and how their character and achievements had worked to make our school a better place. Instead of shaking Dr. Gates’ hand though, each graduate had to pick up his or her diploma from the table. There was applause and shouting at the end of the ceremony and the seniors headed outside with their families to the courtyard.

Once they were set up along the curb of the courtyard, a long parade of cars carrying TGS students and their families cranked up. One by one, the vehicles stopped to congratulate the Class of 2020. Many were decorated with signs and flags; kids shouted and the drivers blew their horns. It was a noisy and fun celebration of the achievements of the Class of 2020, which hopefully made up a little for the lost time together. “It was a very fun and supportive event,” said one parent, “But I hope we never have to do it again.”

School switches to Distance Learning

We will have school from 8:30-12:30 on Monday, March 16, then close down and switch to “distance learning.” On Monday, students will learn how to use our on line classrooms and take home all necessary books and materials at the end of the day. The building will be closed after 12:30 for the rest of March. All classes will be held on line.

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

February 26, 2020: Tom Carter

Today, we Kingfishers had four special visitors at Open Forum. Tom Carter, founder of the nonprofit All4Paws, spoke to us, accompanied by his director of volunteering Allison, volunteer Ms. Sandy Martin, and a nine-week old-puppy named Astrid. Mr. Carter explained that the mission of All4Paws is to rescue cats and dogs from being euthanized and find them a home. All4Paws is a no kill shelter that was founded seven and a half years ago and is located in Murrells Inlet.  It takes in unwanted dogs and cats to spay and neuter them and give them forever homes. Mr. Carter said that having dogs and cats spayed and neutered is a good idea because there are not enough homes for all the kittens and puppies that are born each year. Mr. Carter mentioned the six values at the core of All4Paws: compassion, excellence, responsibility, respect, learning, and customer. 

“Compassion is sympathy in action,” Mr. Carter said, pointing out that merely feeling sorry for animals does them no good. He said that excellence “is to do the right thing the right way.” The 28 full time staff and hundreds of volunteers at All4Paws must take their responsibility seriously. Animals need respect, but so do people. In school, Mr. Carter didn’t learn about animals, but over time he “learned to learn,” and has helped almost 15,000 animals. His final hope is for the customers of All4Paws—he hopes someone will invent a kit so that people can spay or neuter animals without having to bring them to a clinic. 

Then Mr. Carter turned the talk over to Allison, his director of volunteers. She explained how the volunteering process works (on their website), and when they need volunteers. One of the opportunities Allison shared with us was called Tales for Tails. This is a program where people can come to help socialize the animals by reading to them. Volunteers do valuable work, she said, because socializing the animals helps the animals stay healthier, happier, and get adopted faster. Allison gave us jars to collect money for All4Paws.  At the end of their talk, students got to form a line to pet Astrid, a shepherd-mix puppy as she lay sleeping in Ms. Sandy’s arms. Thank you, Mr. Carter, Allison, Ms. Sandy, and Astrid for your visit. 

By Rebecca

“My Way”: Middle School Valentine’s Day Dance

Love was in the air and there was certainly some crazy dancing at the first ever Middle School Valentine’s Day Dance, held at Kimbel Lodge on February 14. It was hard to tell who was more excited–the parents or the kids–as the young men arrived in coats and ties and the young ladies in dresses and pantsuits with heels. Small gifts of candy, chocolate, plush animals, and flowers were exchanged, then the party began in earnest.

DJ-T. J. played a steady stream of popular music, then switched to “My Way” by Frank Sinatra for the first slow dance. Parents had thoughtfully brought in a table full of delicious food: meat balls, sandwiches, chips and dips, cupcakes, and a red velvet cake in the shape of a heart. The dancing and eating continued until a brief pause when Bristol and J’Marion were crowned Prom Queen and King.

Around 8:30, everyone hit the floor for a final, screaming rendition of “YMCA” before leaving with parents and friends. Thank you to the Dickerson family for creating this such a beautiful occasion and congratulations to Middle School Student Council for taking the lead and making TGS history.

(Photo: Mahi Livain)

February 12: Bill Duncan

Bill Duncan opened his speech today by telling us about Benjamin Franklin.  “He signed the Declaration of Independence.” He told students. “His face is on the $100 bill.”  However, that wasn’t all he did. Mr Duncan explained that Franklin was an inventor, and a very successful one at that.  He created his first prototype at age 11, and continued inventing throughout his life. “He was something I like to call a ‘lifelong learner,’” Mr Duncan explained.  Franklin was especially good at taking other people’s inventions and figuring out how to make them better.

“Franklin never tried to monetize his inventions.”  Mr Duncan told us. “That’s incredibly magnanimous, but I went a different way.”  After serving as a lawyer for 31 years, Mr Duncan discovered his passion for inventing.  Right now, he holds more than 30 patents. He showed us one of his inventions, the Instant Wall Planter.  It is a picture frame designed to hold plants rather than photographs. Although the idea has been around for a long time, Dr Duncan came up with a way to make the process almost instantaneous, whereas before it had taken 12 weeks to root the plants.  He told students that he wants to “make stuff that will make the world a better place.”

By Ryleigh

January 30, 2020: Dr. Tripthi Pillai

Dr. Tripthi Pillai was our featured speaker for the 6th annual Georgetown Shakespeare Festival on January 30, after the matinee performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the American Shakespeare Center, which she attended with several of her students from CCU.  She spoke on audience engagement with Shakespeare and involved our students, faculty, and some of the ASC actors in a consideration of how gender, class, and humor work in this play.

“The play doesn’t start with love,” she pointed out.  “The dad wants his daughter dead.” In Shakespeare’s time, women were valued while they could produce offspring and a father could force his daughter into an arranged marriage (Hermia/Demetrious) or women could be captured in war and forced to marry (Hippolyta/Theseus). By the end of this play, though, even some men were “forced” into marriage by magic or witchcraft. 

The play features three “classes”: the noble Athenians, the Faeries, and the Rude Mechanicals.  Dr. Pillai told us that in Shakespeare’s time, fairies were not cute—they were “monstrous and destructive.” Since they could not have children, they stole children from people (the Boy is neither Oberon’s nor Titania’s child). The Mechanicals are lower-class laborers, whom Shakespeare identifies strongly with poets, playwrights, and artists.  Bottom and his band put on a terrible performance of Pyramis and Thisbe, which still somehow emotionally moves Titania and the others. Bottom’s “profound speech” when he wakes up from his “dream” of being a king makes us identify with poets and poor people, with anyone whose dream has been snatched away.  We laugh at Bottom, but at the same time we feel his loss.

“Laughter is not the same as joy,” said Dr. Pillai. “Laughter has a cruel side.” But humor in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is always tempered by audience engagement.  When characters are silenced, whether it be through laughter or violence, Shakespeare always gives their voice to another and we hear it again.  Dr. Pillai got the students to talk about which characters had engaged them emotionally and students came up with a variety of characters and reasons.  Fletcher liked the Duke of Athens. “He makes a bad thing seem chill,” he said.

“It is an honor to see all of you relating to Shakespeare,” Dr. Pillai told us.  She complimented our students on their understanding and mastery of the play and encouraged us to keep working. “You all are vibrant with imagination—you should definitely embrace it.  Make it big!” she concluded.

Shakespeare 2020 Ends on a High Note

The Georgetown Shakespeare Festival continued on February 1 with an evening performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The turnout was excellent, with over 225 tickets sold. Theatre patrons waited in the hall downstairs for the doors to open, sipping on bubbly and nibbling delicious food provided by our wonderful PTO.  At 7:00, everyone streamed in to find a seat and the music began.  The audience was enthusiastic and appreciative of yet another amazing performance by the ASC.  This was our best crowd so far.

Mrs. Crosby serves Elizabethan desserts to Blake and Kipper as other MS students get their main dish.

Monday morning, February 3, middle school students brought in mysterious platters and bowls for Elizabethan Food Day, storing them on tables and in various refrigerators until lunch.   They had chosen a recipe from Shakespeare’s day to prepare.  At 12:30, the buffet was ready and Mrs. Crosby had all the students explain their offerings.  Here are a few samples from the groaning table: Jai’Den’s meat pies, Evan’s cheese tarte, Morgan’s chicken pie, Mrs. Crosby’s lamb dumplings, Annika’s currant bread, Hannah and Gabby’s hot cross buns, Quinn’s soup, Fletcher’s mini meat pies.  We all tried something new, and it was good.

As Harold (J’Marion) and Gerald (Morgan) recite to Dr. Alison (Camper), the Walrus (Mason) and the Carpenter (Baryk) reflect on the best way to remove sand from a beach. Seven maids with seven mops? (Hannah, Bristol, Ay’Shona, Gabby, Destiny, Stone, Annika)

The rest of the week was spent preparing for our two drama productions, adapted and directed by our wonderful drama coach, Mr. Daniel Bumgardner.

The Young Oysters (Bryan, Gracin, Kipper) realize that they are dinner.

First up on Thursday evening was Tweedle, Mr. Bumgardner’s whimsical staging of poetry from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, performed by the middle school.  The frame story had two elderly brothers in a nursing home entertaining their doctor by reciting “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” In this classic example of Victorian nonsense, a walrus and a carpenter discuss the amount of sand on the beach, then proceed to eat several young oysters who made the mistake of going for a walk with them.  “Our oyster costumes are so cool,” said Kipper. “Mr. B took coat hangers and tee shirts and made them for us.”

Montjoy (Kate) delivers an insulting message from the Dauphin of France to Harry (Manny) as Exeter (Mr. B), a Council Member (Kelsi), and Westmoreland (Ella) look on.

The high school did a short version of Shakespeare’s Henry V, featuring Manny as Harry.  A static arrangement of chairs on the stage suggested a throne room and uneasy cello music highlighted the political crisis facing the young king.  Characters acted at the front of the stage, on intermediate risers, and on the floor of the Auditorium, animating their speeches about war, diplomacy, justice, and courage.  It was a thrilling performance. Congratulations to the cast, backstage people, and technicians for a job well done, and a huge thank-you to Mr. Bumgardner and his helpers for all their hard work.

Scroop (Ella), Cambridge (Kate), and Salisbury (Margaret) beg for mercy when Harry hears of their treachery.
The Daupin (Margaret) argues with Exeter (Mr. B) over Harry’s claim to France.

Now it’s time to put away all the giant Shakespeare posters, props, and scripts until next year.  O Kingfishers, ye are a rare, sweet honey-tongued, well-wishing band of players!

Harry is now King Henry V and our play is done.

Shakespeare Festival Begins!

The American Shakespeare Center blazed into the Winyah Auditorium Thursday, January 30, and completely enchanted us with their rollicking performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  About 300 area students from GMS, MBMS, and Coastal Carolina took their seats as the actors warmed up the house with live music featuring bass fiddle, guitar, saxophone, percussion, and voice.  Eight lucky students got to sit on stage with the actors, a convention from Shakespeare’s day.  With all the lights on, we enjoyed a far-fetched scenario of nobles, fairies, and laborers by actors who were not afraid to get physical.  Puck (Maddie Calais) and Bottom (Topher Embrey) particularly surprised and delighted the crowd with their antics.  “You guys laughed at all the right places,” Maddie told us later.  “You are a great audience.”

At the end of the performance, the whole house stood and gave the ASC a standing ovation.  “I like how they made Shakespeare appealing to kids,” said Stone, who was not expecting the play to be “so modern.”

After the play, students ate pizza on the front lawn with their new friends from GMS and MBMS.  Later, we watched as they all boarded a long line of yellow buses to get back to their schools.  Then we went back into the Auditorium for a talk by Dr. Tripthi Pillai, professor of Early Modern Literature at CCU.  The actors joined us.

Dr. Pillai focused on audience engagement—how the original spectators would have received A Midsummer Night’s Dream and how it continues to engage modern audiences by focusing on urgent issues of class, gender, and the nature of humor. “As a Shakespearean, I am told every day that my work is irrelevant,” she said.  “It is an honor to see all of you relating to Shakespeare.”  She discussed several themes and kept the floor open for student comments. “It was more like a conversation than a lecture,” said Camper.  Camper had raised her hand to answer Dr. Pillai’s question about which marriage in the play was the creepiest.

Dr. Pillai and the actors themselves were very impressed with our students’ familiarity with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, thanks to summer reading for the high school and graphic novels for middle school.  Some students were able to shout out lines during the interactive portions of the performance.  Our students all were well-informed about the plot and names of characters.  They asked intelligent questions and gave thoughtful answers when questions were posed.  Dr. Pillau encouraged us at the end.  “You are vibrant with imagination,” she said.  “You should embrace it—make it big!”

After the talk, we sang Happy Birthday to Dr. Pillai and settled down for one of the ASC’s most important workshops: “Embedded Stage Directions in Shakespeare.”  Maddie Calais (Puck/Philostrate) and Alexis Baigue (Peaseblossom/Thisbe) taught us that in Shakespeare’s day, actors had different tasks in preparing for a performance than they would today.  There was no such thing as a director and no such thing as stage directions.  Playwrights would make it clear through dialogue what props, actions and tone were necessary.  Actors interpreted the lines and decided how to stage the play.  Our job was to identify embedded stage directions in a passage from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and act them out.

We are so privileged to be able to work each year with the actors of the ASC. Though the troupe changes from year to year, there are always familiar and welcome faces. Their energy, creativity, and professionalism are amazing. We are also honored to have gotten to know Dr. Pillai, who has promised that next year her CCU students will read the same Shakespeare play as our students so that our English classes can do something fun with hers in 2021.