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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!

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.

Second Annual TGS Golf Tournament

On April 30, TGS held its Second Annual Golf Tournament at Wedgefield Country Club. The preparations had begun weeks in advance as the Kingfisher Crew sold tickets, looked for sponsors, and gathered items for the Silent Auction. On the big day, set-up began at 7:00am and golfers began signing in by 8:00.

Golf foursomes piled into their carts and headed out for the shotgun start on what promised to be a beautiful Saturday under the oaks. Soon they were on their way, and the volunteers turned their attention to setting up the Silent Auction. As golfers finished their rounds, they headed to the Clubhouse where they could browse all the items for auction and enjoy lunch.

Thank you to Sandy Martin, president of the Kingfisher Crew, and to all her able helpers. Thanks also to Wedgefield Country Club for hosting the event. A huge thank you goes out to all our sponsors–sponsorships were excellent this year and the event earned more than its goal. We can’t wait to do it again.

By Annika

Victorian Gothic: Prom 2022

Where do you find yourself when twilight falls on a Friday night in May?  If it’s Friday the 13th and you are in high school at TGS, you are at Prom!

TGS Juniors organized Prom 2022 at Kimbell Lodge at Hobcaw and the theme was Victorian Gothic. Black and red balloons festooned the dance floor, red lights twinkled above the doors, and posters and cutouts of characters from the Twilight series seemed to watch the festivities, vaguely approving. Vampires were very welcome and if you forgot your fangs, you could pick some up at the door!

After Ethan was crowned Prom King, the party settled into dancing, chatting, and munching on cake and fresh popcorn. Juniors Kelsi, Ella, and Isaac ran around taking care of the music and party supplies. Everyone hit the floor for the Cha-Cha Slide, the Wobble, and the Cupid Shuffle, with surprising coordination. “The dancing was really fun,” said Annika. “When it wasn’t a line dance everybody just did random moves, including running into people.” Jack showed his prowess at cowboy and Russian dancing.

Prom 2022 wound down around 11:00 but the party went on and the memories will live in our hearts forever. Thank you for a fabulous evening, Class of 2023! Thank you also to our parents who helped organize and to sponsors/chaperons Dr. Simmons and Señora Yorky!

Ahoy! Sailing Club on the Sampit all year

Every Monday, TGS students collect their life jackets and flock to the dock down at the South Carolina Maritime Museum for Sailing Club.  Dr. Gates is the coach and Sophie Richer helped us get started back in the fall.  The SCMM loans us the boats in return for community service hours. 

The boats we use are small two-person racing craft called 420s.  The SCMM stores them on Goat Island, so the first task is to go tow them over to the dock.  Mr. Jim Edwards brings his launch to do this job and rescue the sailboats if they get into trouble.

Every week, we practice getting the sails and lines ready, then we go out for a quick turn in the Sampit River.  One person is the driver and handles the tiller and mainsail.  The other person minds the jib and does whatever the “captain” says. Ethan Ab, Morgan, Jack S. and Baryck are the sailors in the Club.

 If the weather is bad, we meet inside the SCMM and Dr. Gates and Mr. Jim teach us how to tie different knots: bowline, square, proper cleat hitch.

We are very grateful to the SCMM for their support of our program.  The kids enjoy sailing and sometimes running into the docks.  They also like to see Dr. Gates sail the two-person boat alone.

By Ethan Ab.

State Drama Festival

TGS high school thespians headed down the road to the Sumter Opera House on November 30 to compete in the SCISA State Drama Festival, after winning at the regional level on November 18.

Kingfishers were first in the line-up. Dr. Gates and Senora Yorky helped make sure everything was ready. Then they sat back to enjoy The Sandbox one final time. The actors wowed them, even though they did not win.

“They hit is perfectly,” said Dr. Gates. “The audience gasped in all the right places!”

The Sandbox is an early Absurdist play by Edward Albee. There is minimal dialogue and the “fourth wall” of the theater is done away with. Big Ethan and Kelsi played Mommy and Daddy. Jordan was the Musician and Isaac was the Young Man. Sage stole the show as Grandma. “It’s a very challenging piece for actors,” said Dr. Gates, “but the kids really rose to the occasion.” Thank you to everyone who made our SCISA Drama Festival so much fun this year.

Thanksgiving Feast 2021

We are thankful that we could gather together again this year and share a meal together before the Thanksgiving break. The food was delicious, the fellowship was warm, and everyone was just happy to be back on track with one of our main TGS traditions.

Thank you to everyone who prepared food, set up tables, and cleaned up. A special thank-you goes to Mrs. Patrick and her students for the beautifully decorated tables.

TGS Wins at SCISA Regional Drama Festival

Putting the drama drought of 2020 behind us, TGS hosted the SCISA Regional Drama Festival on November 18.  We were very happy to welcome our competitors, Cathedral Academy of Charleston, to the Winyah Auditorium. The SCISA Drama Festival challenges drama troupes all over S. C. to present short plays (no more than 30 minutes) with minimal props and scenery.

After Dr. Gates welcomed the crowd and introduced our four distinguished judges, TGS Middle School presented Perfect Timing. Brennan (Nathan Hopkins) learns a lesson about falsely accusing others, a lesson in the form of an involuntary audition for a school play dreamed up by his best friend Chris (Baryck Jackson).

Next up was CA’s Middle School with The Toy That Saved Christmas, adapted from Veggie Tales.  Buzzsaw Louie (Liam Stormer) is a popular children’s toy who rejects his manufacturer’s consumeristic message.  Louie and the children of Dinkletown learn the true meaning of Christmas from Grandpa George (Ryan Scogin), the town mailman.

Then CA’s High School presented Christmas with Little Women.  Amy (Taylor Leggette), Beth (Ariel Porter), Meg (Matti Riddick), and Jo (Emmy Hagen) keep each other’s spirits up during a difficult Christmas.  They comfort their mother Mrs. March (Faith Burgess), who has just received news that their father is sick. When Aunt March (Vivian Wade) pays them a visit, the family’s loving generosity inspires the miserly old relative with the spirit of Christmas.

Finally, TGS’s High School put on The Sandbox, an early work by Edward Albee.  In an ambiguous space that is alternatively beach, sandbox, stage, and coffin, Mommy (Kelsi Forrester) and Daddy (Ethan Anderson) bring Grandma (Sage Fairclough) to meet the Young Man (Isaac Shumard) who turns out to be the Angel of Death.

Here are the results of the competition:

Best HS play: The Sandbox                        Runner-up: Christmas with Little Women

Best MS play: The Toy That Saved Christmas    Runner-up: Perfect Timing

Best HS actor: Ethan Anderson (Daddy)

Honorable Mention: Boone Cooper (Laurie)

Best HS actress: Matti Riddick (Meg)

Honorable Mention: Kelsi Forrester (Mommy), Jordan Brenner (Musician), Vivian Wade (Aunt March), Sage Fairclough (Grandma)

Best MS Actor: Liam Stormer (Buzzsaw Louie)             

Honorable Mention: Nathan Hopkins (Brennan)

Thanks to everyone who helped make Drama Festival 2021 a great success, with a special note of appreciation to our judges (Ms. Lewis, Ms. Anderson, Mr. Jayroe, and Ms. Ebert) who gave of their time and expertise to judge us and give us advice about how to be better.

History Shines On

If you like to spend a lot of time in the fresh air, you might consider a trip to see the North Island lighthouse.  On Friday, October 15, Dr. Simmons and his US History class did just that. At the South Island boat landing, we met the boat driver, and crossed the Intracoastal Waterway.  Almost immediately, we arrived on Cat Island, where the Education Center stands.  Our guide from DNR, Jim Lee, explained a little bit about the history of North Island. Everyone then got back on the boat and set off for our destination–the lighthouse.

The boat took us east on the South Santee River, slowing down periodically so Jim Lee could explain the history of some of the locations. The views of the marshland were spectacular.  Once we pulled up at North Island, Jim Lee treated us to a long and beautiful walk along the beach and through the woods. After about an hour, we arrived at the North Island lighthouse, a structure that was first built in the early 1800s and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the years.  The lighthouse guards the entrance to Winyah Bay up up to this day, although it has been fully automated since 1986.

Tired and hungry, we sat and ate lunch before walking up the stairs of the lighthouse. When we reached the top, they were greeted by a stunning view (as well as wasps which were on the outside). “Wasps are friends,” everyone said as we walked through the swarm of wasps in order to have an unobstructed view of the bay. We could clearly see the different elevations of terrain on North Island.

After admiring the view and hearing about some more history of the island, everyone descended. On the way down the stairs, Kelsi and Isaac began singing, much to the dismay of Dr. Simmons. “No one warned me it was going to be this bad,” he said when the singing continued even after everyone was back on the ground.

The students obviously still had plenty of energy left so Jim Lee led us up Lafayette Hill, the highest point on the island. There, we saw the recently uncovered radio tower that had a palmetto tree growing through it. Then we headed back to the dock for the return trip to South Island boat landing.

We are so grateful to DNR and especially Jim Lee for the opportunity to enjoy a day on the Santee River Delta and learn about the fascinating history of our area.  Thanks to Dr. Simmons for arranging the trip as well.

By Annika