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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.

ASC Loads In!

They arrived in two vans and a 24-foot moving van around 4:15 on the afternoon of January 29. The American Shakespeare Center’s previous performance was in Durham, NC, so they had had about a five-hour journey. Dr. Gates, T. J., Rebecca, and Ethan were at the ready when the van pulled up to the side of the Winyah Auditorium and actors got out and released the ramp.

Inside the van was a treasure-trove of mysterious objects, large and small: tool boxes, garment bags full of various costumes, architectural beams and pillars to create structures on the stage. Our student volunteers helped carry stuff into the Auditorium. “Hands on!” meant the object was ready to be carried down the ramp and handed up onto the stage.

“Thank you for having us back,” said Thomas Coppola, tour manager. “We are glad to be here!” This is Thomas’ sixth visit to Georgetown with the ASC. The talented troupe is presenting A Midsummer Night’s Dream tomorrow morning to about 300 area middle and high school students. Many of these students have never seen a professional-quality theatrical production and they are in for a treat!

January 22, 2020: Hannah Grippo

Today we welcomed Hannah Grippo, our 5th and 6th grade teacher, to Open Forum. Miss Grippo shared her experiences teaching English in South Korea from 2015-2017. Miss Grippo has a long-time interest in South Korea. “My family is made up of first generation immigrants from South Korea.” She said. She also minored in Asian Studies at CCU.

Miss Grippo found that life and education are very different than in the US. All of the food was spicy, except for the chips, which were oddly sweet. She would sometimes have to wear goggles and a mask because of pollution from China. She was functionally illiterate because she could not read or write Korean. The education system was perhaps the most different of all.

Miss Grippo’s ESL students ranged in age from 4-14. They attended school year-round with up to 12-hour school days. She was filmed as she taught every day because Korean parents are very included in their children’s education. She taught in English with no Korean translator and had to come up with ways to communicate with the children. For example, some of her students were very interested in dinosaurs, so she brought dinosaur toys to class and used them to engage the students. A lot of the children were looking forward to being parents, so she brought in baby dolls and taught them how to hold babies.

Although she spent a lot of her time teaching the students, Miss Grippo also found other ways to engage in Korean life. She learned how to make Kimchi, a traditional Korean food made from spicy cabbage. She learned all about King Sejong, who invented the language of Korean, and how to honor the living and the dead on Chuseok. On weekends, Miss Grippo volunteered to help teach North Korean refugees. “How do you build trust across cultures?” she asked the students. “I know it sounds mushy, but the answer is love.”

Math Meet 2019

“Are you excited?” Margaret asked, practically bouncing in her seat.  “I’m excited!”  It was the morning of the SCISA Math Meet, and the team met at school bright and early for the big day.  Margaret, Ryleigh, Kate, Rebecca, and Fisher all piled into Mrs Crosby’s truck, along with chaperone Dr Gates.  They set off for the Sumter County Civic Center, although they ran into trouble along the way.  Navigating road closures and dirt roads riddled with potholes, they made it just in time.

The Math Meet is composed of two parts: the written test and the speed round.  On the written tests, students had one hour to complete a set of 50 questions.  Ranging in subject from logarithmic equations to geometry to calculus, the questions were designed to challenge students and really make them think.  After the test, the TGS team enjoyed a game of cards while they ate their lunches, and then it was time for the speed round.

Each student had to answer five questions, with only one minute to solve each one.  Calculators were not permitted in the speed round, adding another layer of difficulty.  It was a tough competition.  Ryleigh scored the highest out of the team, but everyone did their best and had a great time.  Although they didn’t win any awards, the Kingfishers were all smiles when they left.  “It was a long day,” Ryleigh shared after the competition, “but I think we did pretty good.”

By Ryleigh

A Trip to Narnia

Although it was the coldest day of the year so far, Middle Schoolers were lively and excited on the morning of January 21 as everyone from grades 5-8 packed into various SUVs and headed off to Charleston. Their destination was the Dock Street Theater, where they had tickets to Charleston Stage’s production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

First things first, though. Lunching at the downtown Waterfront Park, Kingfishers were chilled and whipped by the wind coming off of Charleston Harbor. Mrs. Crosby very thoughtfully had packed thermoses of hot chocolate for all the kids and chaperons. She turned an outdoor meal into a treat.

Everyone was glad to be snug in their seats at the Dock Street by 11:30, where they were soon drawn into C. S. Lewis’ “classic tale of discovery and adventure” with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.

“It wasn’t like the book,” said Blake. “They took out a lot of scenes and put more details into other scenes.” Corrin said it was fun. The students enjoyed the performance, but most agreed with Hayden that “reading the book was better.”

Thank you to Mrs. Crosby for the hot chocolate and for arranging the outing. Thank you to our parent drivers, as well: Ms. Craig, Mr. Paul, Ms. Pat, and Ms. Michele.

Shakespeare is Coming… via Louisiana

We are going down to the bayou! An enchanted swamp full of hobgoblins and nymphs awaits us when the American Shakespeare Center’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream hits the stage at the Winyah Auditorium. The Georgetown School is proud to be hosting this amazing troupe of traveling actors in our sixth annual Shakespeare Festival.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Nathan Winkelstein, is one of Shakespeare’s most accessible and popular plays, featuring beloved characters like the oblivious Bottom, feisty Helena, and devilish Puck–all played by the talented young actors of the ASC.

Our students have been getting ready for the performances by reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream in their English classes. Miss Grippo and Mrs. Crosby have their middle school students working through a graphic novel version, while the 9th and 10th graders tackled the play in its original version for summer reading with Dr. Simmons. Students have also been checking out the ASC website to see which of our favorite actors are coming back this year.

The ASC preserves the theatrical conventions of Shakespeare’s day: universal lighting, seating on the stage, cross-gender casting, and audience/player interaction. Every year, the ASC wows us with their live music performances, chosen from popular genres that reinforce the themes of the play. This year’s music was inspired by be-bop, bluegrass, and barbershop.

The first performance is a matinee for area English and Drama students on Thursday, January 31, after which Kingfishers will hear a talk by Shakespearian scholar, Dr. Tripthi Pillai of CCU. The second performance, on Saturday, February 1 at 7:00 is open to the public.

For tickets to the February 1 performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, visitwww.georgetownshakespearefestival.org or call the school at 520-4359. Tickets are $35 and general admission.

Basketball Begins!

In their first games of the season, Girls’ Varsity and Boys’ Junior Varsity Basketball went up against the Knights of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton on January 7 out at the Tara Hall.  Up first were the boys, who held their own despite their youth and inexperience.  J’Marion led the scoring.  “I was so proud of Kipper when he realized that he could really get something done out there,” said Qulex, who serves as assistant coach to Coach Gates.  “The most impressive thing was the number of times they forced turnovers on defense,” said Coach Gates.  “We were ahead with that stat.”

Next up were the girls, led by Coach Ken Wright.  They put up a good fight but came up short, letting the other team make several easy lay-ups and get ahead.  Under the basket, Margaret led the scoring and yelled at the girls to stay focused.  “My favorite part of the whole game was when Emily scored her three-pointer from the corner,” she said.  “Did y’all see her face?”

The Kingfisher girls face off against the Lady Marlins on January 9 at Lowcountry.

January 8, 2020: Dr. Gary Gates

Our own Dr, Gates spoke at Open Forum this week about the purpose of homework.  “Just between you and me,” he said, “I want you to realize why we teachers assign homework.” 

He began by telling us what homework is not: it is not a punishment, it is not a way to use up time, it is not even ultimately a way of getting permanent knowledge into your head.  “You read and take notes on math concepts you may never use again as an adult,” he said. “But learning specific information is not the final goal of homework.” 

Dr. Gates explained that the work teachers assign is intended to help students learn how to learn and learn how to pay attention for longer periods of time.  “These are the skills that will help you later in life,” he said.  Dr. Gates has analyzed his students’ scores on standardized testing over the past 20 years and the data shows an extremely strong correlation between students who do their work and those who improve their scores the most on standardized testing.  Moral of the story?  Doing your homework is good for you—now and for the rest of your life.

North Island 2019

North Island is a picturesque wilderness located only miles from the shores of Winyah Bay.  Over the years, it has played a significant part in the history of our community.  From the planned (and failed) Spanish colony by Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon in 1526, to the abandoned canal project of 1802, the island has always been a central part of South Carolina’s past.

Our seniors took a trip to the island this fall, and they were amazed by what they saw.  The boat pulled up next to an old, rotting dock, where several pieces were missing from the deck.  After climbing up the dock and onto shore, they got their first glimpse of the famous North Island lighthouse: an 85-foot structure made entirely of cut stone and brick.  At the base of the lighthouse is an old Coast Guard base, untouched since it was abandoned in the early 1980s.  After exploring the base, their tour guide, Mr Jim Lee, led students to the top of the lighthouse.

“The view was nice,”  Camille shared, “But the wasps were a bit much.  I don’t like wasps.”  After their time the lighthouse, the group headed back down to ground level.  There, their tour guide Mr Jim pulled out his compass and asked them if they would like to see the ocean.

“Keep up, slowpokes!”  Margaret teased the others as she, Ryleigh, and Mr Jim led the hike through the woods.  Far behind them, the others struggled to avoid thorny branches and dangling palm fronds as they made their way up the slope and across the island.  The hike took some time, but the end result was worth it: the trees gave way to towering dunes, which ended in a steep cliff just above the sandy beach.  After carefully negotiating their way down the slope, they settled down to eat their lunches.

The journey back was just as breathtaking.  From mounds of shells to towering forests of driftwood, the views were perfect.  It was easy to see why Lafayette, when he first landed on the island, called it DeBordieu, which translates to “the borderland of God.”  By the time the group reached the dock, everyone had collected more shells than they could carry.  It was an exciting adventure, and after a long day on the island, they were all ready to head home.  Thank you to Mr Jim and the Tom Yawkey Foundation for giving us this amazing opportunity.

By Ryleigh

12/11 Dr. Till J. J. Hanebuth

Dr Till J. J. Hanebuth works in the Geosystems Research Lab at Coastal Carolina University. He came to speak with our school about his research into coastal management. “We want to control our coastline,” he told the students. “What we build is stationary, while the coastlines change.” In an attempt to preserve our coastlines, there have been several beach nourishment projects. These involve scooping sand from the bottom of the ocean and transporting it to the beach to replace sand that has been washed away. However, this is not always the best solution. Apart from being very expensive, it can be very damaging to the ocean environment, and it is getting harder and harder to find areas with the right kind of sand. Beach nourishment is also not permanent, so it must be repeated again and again.

Dr Hanebuth’s most recent project revolves around Georgetown Harbor. In 1950, developers decided to create a “shortcut” into the harbor, cutting through the land to create what is now Goat Island. This made the harbor more accessible to boats, which was a great boost for the local economy. However, this shortcut changed the water currents in the bay, and over time the bottom of the harbor filled up with silt. It became so shallow that many ships could no longer enter the harbor. To fix this, the city has been forced to dredge the harbor repeatedly to allow ships to enter. Dredging is incredibly expensive and does not work as a long-term solution. Dr. Hanebuth’s job is to research the currents in the harbor and come up with a way to counteract this problem.

Dr. Hanebuth created a computer program that would simulate the tides and the currents in the harbor so that he could test potential solutions. The obvious solution would be to close off the shortcut, but Dr. Hanebuth’s research shows that this could have disastrous effects. With nowhere else for the water to go, it would flow through the harbor too quickly and wash away boats and docks, as well as potentially causing flooding. Another idea was to place two giant underwater “hairdryers” at the entrance to the harbor to direct water flow and wash away the silt. Right now, the most promising solution appears to be blocking off part of the shortcut, creating an increased flow in the harbor without the full force that would come from completely closing it.

“I am used to working with scientists,” Dr. Hanebuth told us. “But now I am working with city managers.” It remains to be seen how Georgetown will resolve the problem of its lost harbor, but Dr. Hanebuth’s research and computer models provide much-needed information to help Georgetown make a sensible plan of action.