On Wednesdays throughout the year The Georgetown School invites artists, scientists, academics, entrepreneurs and other interesting leaders of the community to share their experiences, both educational and professional, with the students and faculty in an “open forum.” Below are some of those who have already spoken.
November 15, 2017: Tommy Howard
“You never stop learning,” Tommy Howard, news and sports editor of The Georgetown Times, told TGS. Mr. Howard grew up in Georgetown, often working odd jobs. His first experience in journalism, he told us, was acting as a news reporter during a Cub Scouts skit. What made him decide to pursue a career in the field, though, was his summer job working all day as one of two employees of a local radio station. After graduating Winyah High School, Mr. Howard earned a degree in broadcast journalism from USC. His son was born a week after he graduated. The next year, his life changed. “I won the lottery,” he revealed, “and the lottery at the time was the draft.” Mr. Howard served in the Vietnam War as an information specialist before returning home to Columbia. Over the next several years, he worked in radio and publishing before starting his own printing and publishing business, The Print Shop. After moving back to Georgetown, Mr. Howard began working for The Georgetown Times in 2000.
While working for the paper, Mr. Howard learned that “there’s a lot more to this place than I’d realized.” He wrote stories for all manner of community activities, but two events stood out to him. Mr. Howard shared the story of Toni’s Place, a restaurant in the West End. The restaurant shared its name with the owner’s daughter, who had fallen victim to a house fire several years previously, while her parents were out drinking. In her honor, the owner had remodeled several West End houses as rehabilitation stations for addicts. Finally, Mr. Howard recounted his research into the Georgetown School Board’s inordinately large savings fund, a story that exposed the corrupt officials and won him the South Carolina Public Service Award. Mr. Howard encouraged TGS students to “think and question” the world around them, and to always keep learning.
November 1, 2017: Dalyla McGee
What school’s mascot is a bee and an acorn? Savannah College of Art and Design, better known as SCAD. Ms. Dalyla McGee, assistant director of admissions at SCAD, spoke about the college to the college prep class before her Open Forum presentation. “I’m your best friend while you’re applying,” she said. Ms. McGee earned a BS in Anthropology and Human Biology from Emory University, though her true passion was theater. “I was scared to major in theater,” she revealed. “Everybody always told me to do something practical.” After college, she saw how many careers are possible in theater, and made it her mission to let students know that creative careers are possible. To do this, she travels around the South spreading the word about SCAD.
SCAD is one of the most recognized art and design colleges in the United States. While their main campus is in Savannah, SCAD also has campuses in Atlanta and Hong Kong, as well as a “getaway” campus in Lacoste, France. “I love the Atlanta campus,” Ms. McGee, a lifelong resident of the city, laughed, “but then again, I’m a little biased.” SCAD also offers E-learning for on-the-go students, which is often used while students do internships. It is known as the “University of Creative Fields,” with forty majors and seventy-five plus minors ranging from equestrian studies to painting. Graduates are extremely successful: SCAD boasts a 98% employment rate, meaning 98% of graduates are employed in their field of choice or seeking further education within 10 months of graduating.
Though the college started in 1978 with only twenty students in the entire school, it has grown to have four campuses and many different, widely recognized events like the SCAD Fashion Show, SCAD Sidewalk Arts Festival, and the Savannah Film Festival. The school also offers museums in both Atlanta and Savannah. The Savannah location is the SCAD Museum of Art, and the Atlanta location dubbed ‘SCAD FASH’, is the Museum of Fashion and Film. “SCAD Alumni are literally everywhere,” Ms. McGee said. Many notable alumni include: Mir Z. Ali, Tomas Kalnoky, and M. Alice LeGrow. If you want a promising career in the arts, Savannah College of Art and Design is one of the most promising schools you could attend.
By Isabella, Cathryn, Jayla, and Doug
October 25, 2017: Dr. Dan Abel
“You need your environment for the things you value in life,” said Dr. Dan Abel, professor of Marine Science at Coastal Carolina University. Dr. Abel challenged us to see the connections between the things we need and enjoy in our environment and how these very same things are threatened by our actions.
Dr. Abel is conducting ongoing research into the shark population of Winyah Bay. Numerous species of sharks contribute to the biodiversity of our area, but other areas of the world are not faring as well. Dr. Abel said that the market for palm oil (a low-cost additive in processed foods) is leading to the cutting down of millions of acres of rainforest. The rainforests are biodiversity “hot spots,” homes to hundreds of thousands of species. Rainforest species are going extinct every day because of deforestation.
By making a link between processed foods and the rainforests, Dr. Abel encouraged us to see palm oil in a new light – an agent of deforestation. He also drew a connection between the overconsumption of grain-fed beef and deforestation.
“Just be conscious,” he told us. “Be an ethical consumer.” Many thanks to Dr. Abel for his enlightening talk. We hope he will come again soon so we can see his slide show.
October 18, 2017: Dr. Michael Arendt
Dr. Michael Arendt studied at the Virginia Military Institute from 1992 to 1996. After 1996, he began his doctorate at the College of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences. In May 2000, he began his career as a Wildlife Biologist with the S. C. Department of Natural Resources in Charleston. When he completed his PhD at USC in May 2016, he was promoted to Assistant Marine Biologist for SCDNR.
“Math is really important,” he said. “The Pythagorean Theorem is one of the most important things you learn in math.” For example, Dr. Arendt used the Pythagorean Theorem to track Diamondback Terrapins’ locations and movements using triangulation. He also used the Pythagorean Theorem to design exclusion devices for crab traps that will prevent Diamondback Terrapins from entering, thereby saving them from death by drowning. These “bycatch reduction devices” (BRDs) will catch the maximum number of crabs while excluding the maximum number of terrapins. Dr. Arendt showed us how he used statistics to determine the optimal size and shape of the BDR.
Dr. Arendt encouraged us to help prevent turtle deaths by getting rid of derelict crab traps, using BDRs, and obeying DNR’s regulations. We want to thank him for his visit and wish him all the best in his research.
October 13, 2017: Ivan Wineglass
“Who are you?” Ivan Wineglass asked students. “The answer to that should reveal your core values.” Mr. Wineglass has a unique perspective, having grown up a relatively wealthy military brat in Thailand before unexpectedly moving to the West End. When he left Thailand, his parents’ situation changed, leaving the family penniless in a completely different part of the world. “It was kind of traumatic for me,” he revealed.
Growing up, four things became very important to him: character, integrity, a sense of gratitude, and school. To be a good teammate on his college basketball team, he practiced every day, which led to two NBA teams offering him a position. Instead, Mr. Wineglass returned home after graduating and began working for State Farm, eventually traveling all over the country with the company. Currently, he works in State Farm’s IT department and assists with disaster relief.
Mr. Wineglass stressed the importance of making good decisions in high school. When he was growing up, he worked as hard as he could to attend college and earn a degree. Though education is important, Mr. Wineglass advised that being polite and kind opens doors in life that even education cannot. Most of all, he emphasized being grateful for what we have and said that “some things,” such as respect and character, “never go out of style.”
Thank you for your visit, Mr. Wineglass, and congratulations on your retirement!
October 4, 2017: Dan Drost
“I just loved airplanes,” said Dan Drost, local airplane enthusiast and former experimental aeronautic engineer. Mr. Drost told us that as a child, he used to bike to the airport and watch planes take off. After studying electrical engineering at Purdue, he got his pilot’s license and began to work with a long series of experimental planes, often at amazing speeds. Once, he even got to ride in an X-15, a plane that can easily reach speeds of 2,000 miles per hour.
Back in 1992, Mr. Drost reminisced, a group of fellow aviators decided to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ flight. By 2003, they would take 1,000,000 students for a free airplane ride. Thus, the Young Eagles program was born, giving students free airplane rides to increase excitement for flying. But why stop at one million? Over summer of 2017, the 2,000,000th student was flown in a Young Eagles plane, piloted by none other than Harrison Ford.
Mr. Drost encouraged students to consider careers in aviation – the possible careers are limitless, he revealed, and the industry desperately needs skilled pilots. Not only are the careers in aviation varied, but flying is fun! His presentation left us all looking forward to our turn to fly with the Young Eagles the next day.
September 27, 2017: Peg Howell
Peg Howell found herself standing on the deck of an oil rig at night in the middle of a hurricane. As she climbed the knotted rope into the wave-tossed rescue boat, she started to wonder if this was the career for her. As a child, she loved fossils and wanted to be a paleontologist; she ended up majoring in petroleum engineering and being the first female companyman in the oil industry. Tired of the dangers of working on an oil rig, Peg quit the business and got her MBA at Harvard in 1984. After working as a business consultant, she retired to South Carolina.
Today, Peg volunteers at Hobcaw and is an active spokesperson for SODA (Stop Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic). Why is SODA necessary? Because when gas prices were high, an executive order was signed to allow offshore oil exploration along the Atlantic coast in the hopes of eventually bringing gas prices down. According to Peg, many people thought this was a terrible idea. Over 100,000 petitions against oil exploration and drilling have reached the White House. Recently President Trump renewed interest in seeking oil deposits off the Atlantic coast. SODA thinks this action is unnecessary since prices are back down.
Peg told us, “This is your future,” and urged us to fight any measures that would destroy our tourism and fishing economy.
September 22, 2017: Dr. Peter van den Hurk
Dr. Peter van den Hurk, an environmental toxicologist at Clemson University, took a break from collecting samples of alligator liver to come speak to TGS on Friday. Dr. van den Hurk moved to the United States from the Netherlands to study at William and Mary after earning his MS in zoology from the University of Amsterdam. When he started college, he revealed, he had no idea he wanted to be an environmental toxicologist, or someone who studies how poisons and toxic chemicals in the environment affect animals. It wasn’t until his job asked him to look into the consequences of dumping sediment from harbors offshore on seafloor communities that he discovered his passion for the subject.
Dr. van den Hurk explained the science behind toxicology before sharing two interesting studies in his field: pollution in Lake Conestee and Tylenol’s effect on snakes. He collects and analyzes the livers of the animals he studies, as differing levels of enzymes, proteins that break down toxic compounds, indicate exposure to toxins. Currently, he is working with alligators. One of his first studies was to determine the effect of the toxic chemicals in the sediments of Lake Conestee on the fish. He is hoping to start a project to lower the population of the invasive Burmese Python in the Everglades by using the discovery that acetaminophen is toxic to snakes and cats, as they do not possess the enzymes necessary to break it down. He doesn’t have a favorite study, he added, but does look forward to working with lizards.
September 20, 2017: Gary Schaal
“In order to succeed,” former PGA president Gary Schaal said, “you have to have some failures.” Mr. Schaal began to play golf at age 12, but always wanted to be a naval aviator. Rejected from the Naval Academy for his eyesight after only 6 months, he felt like a failure. But after college, he went on to become an Air Force pilot and then do the thing he loved best: golf. Mr. Schaal taught students, turned pro, and started building and owning golf courses.
The PGA is making a huge effort to shed its old-fashioned image and to attract a new generation of golfers. Mr. Schaal invited Kingfishers to get involved with the First Tee program and the PGA Junior League. These programs are free, open to all students, and golf clubs are provided. Golf is an important part of life, he explained, because it teaches sportsmanship and principles. It helps to build connections with people, which is especially helpful for students, whom he believes need “less smartphones, more communication.”
Mr. Schaal concluded with the story of how he met golf legend Arnold Palmer, who became a good friend of his family. When he and his brother worked as caddies at their local course, his brother was lucky enough to caddy for Palmer in a tournament. “When [Palmer] asked if he knew any good places to eat, my brother said ‘Well, my mom makes real good spaghetti!’,” Mr. Schaal laughed.
August 21, 2017: Dr. Louis Rubbo
Excited for the big event that afternoon, TGS students started Eclipse Day with a presentation from Dr. Louis Rubbo. Dr. Rubbo is a professor of astronomy at Coastal Carolina University. Last Monday, Dr. Rubbo explained the total solar eclipse to the school and members of the community at the Georgetown Library and answered our random astronomy questions. When one student asked him why we have seasons, he pulled inflatable models of the earth and sun out of nowhere. These helped him to show the tilt of the earth’s axis and how that affects the light reaching the surface. To illustrate the cause of the eclipse, he asked three students to come to the front of the room. The earth and sun models reappeared, this time joined by the moon. Dr. Rubbo used these to depict how the moon blocks out the sun: the light hits the dark side of the moon instead of the earth. The umbra, he explained, is the area in which totality is visible, and those in the penumbra only see a partial eclipse. In his diagram, the umbra landed in a spot in the Pacific Ocean. “Imagine you are here,” Dr. Rubbo said. “You’d better be sitting on the back of a whale so you don’t get wet.” From there, since the viewer (and the whale) were in the umbra, they would be able to see the total eclipse. He pointed slightly further north, in the penumbra in Alaska. “Here, you would only see a partial eclipse.” The next total eclipse in the United States will be in 2024, though it won’t be visible from South Carolina. “If it’s cloudy this afternoon,” he said, “I’ll be making my travel plans tonight.”
May 10 & 17, 2017: Senior Speeches
On Wednesday, May 10th, the annual Senior Speech Competition kicked off. Four seniors gave their speeches on a variety of topics. The first senior to speak Elizabeth Exum, who talked about preventative medical screenings. She argued that insurance companies should pay for these every five years. In many cases, she said, people incur monstrous medical bills and sometimes die because diseases were not caught until too late. The insurance company could save money overall with preventative screenings.
Lochlyn Hejl discussed standardized testing in public schools, and informed her audience that the average public school spends 30% of its time preparing for tests and taking them. In her opinion, this is excessive. She also believes that there should be only one test taken throughout the country, instead of the 401 different ones currently in use in the United States.
Lizzy talked about the need for guidance counselors in all schools, saying that the current student-to-counselor ratio is too high to help teens navigate their adolescent years. She shared her own struggle with depression and argued the case for better school support of troubled teens.
Joe took of the topic of switchgrass, a plant which is promising as an alternative energy source. He discussed its possibilities and limitations as a renewable fuel but did not hold out much hope for any large-scale conversion to switchgrass at any time in the near future.
Wednesday May 17 marked the conclusion of the senior speech competition at TGS. Josh and Langston spoke to the school in speeches based on personal experience. Josh’s speech focused on the impacts of social media on communication, especially in teenagers. Langston’s delved into sampling in the creation of electronic music.
“I wanted it to be a conversation,” Josh explained. Instead of taking a statistics-based approach, he decided to focus on how social media has impacted him and those around him. Social media, he said, makes communication face-to-face more awkward, since, though we feel as though we are connecting with friends, the filter of the Internet removes all personality from these interactions. He stressed the importance of eye contact and physical presence in conversations, since these are, in his opinion, the basis of friendships. Phones and social media have taken over because, Josh says, “we always need something to look at,” though he believes that this constant use of technology and social media only makes people lonelier and increasingly impatient. While a useful tool for business, he concluded, social media should not take the place of hanging out with friends.
Langston educated the school on the development of sampling and the increasing controversy over copyright laws. Sampling, or the use of a pre-recorded short clip of an instrument to make music, has become more and more commonplace since it was first introduced in the late 1980s. Entire genres have been developed around sampling, for example Jungle, an early 90s genre which formed around Jamaican music incorporating the Alman Drum Riff from the ’60s. Langston said he enjoys listening to music made with samples, since “it’s like a treasure hunt” trying to figure out the source of the original audio files. However, sampling has caused serious controversy. How can the rights of the original artist be protected? One major incident Langston related was the bass line of Ice, Ice Baby being extremely similar to that of Under Pressure by Queen. “Sampling is a magic idea” says because it allows for more varied songs and for those who cannot play an instrument to create music, though asking permission to use a sample is a must.
The winner of the Senior Speech Award will be announced at Awards Day, Friday May 26 at 10:00.
By Grayha, Ryleigh, and Isabella
May 17, 2017: De’Sean Jones
De’Sean Jones is professional saxophonist from Detroit. He travels all over the world playing his instrument, performing alongside famous musicians such as Stevie Wonder and Faith Hill. He started playing the saxophone in the 7th grade, on a bet from his father. His most memorable concert was his sunrise performance on Mt. Fuji at only 18 years of age. Recently, he got the chance to play in a concert on the Great Wall of China. Today, he spoke with the school about preparing for college and the importance of creativity and music in life. He noted that if you chose to major in one of several band and orchestra instruments, you would be guaranteed a full scholarship to college, because certain instruments are in high demand. The speech was very interactive with the students. He began by asking each grade to “make some noise.” As a demonstration of his skills and the results of “10,000 hours” of practice, De’Sean played the Star Spangled Banner and finished his talk with “Hotline Bling. ” Thank you to Leslie Ayres and the Cultural Council for introducing us to De’Sean Jones!
By Margaret and Isabella
May 3, 2017: Anna Montgomery and James Lambert
We were honored today by the presentation of a portrait of George Washington to be hung in our hall. James Lambert bestowed the large, framed picture of our first president on behalf of the Masons. Washington will inspire Kingfishers with his vision, humility and courage.
Anna Montgomery, daughter of Mrs. Montgomery, was our speaker today. May is Better Speech and Hearing Month, so Anna talked about the challenges of growing up deaf. Anna was born hearing-impaired. She received a cochlear implant when she was six years old and has gone from success to success, graduating from the College of Charleston just this May. Mrs. Montgomery and Anna shared a great attitude and a wonderful sense of humor, and they have both met the challenges with grace and strength. We are so happy for their loving relationship and Anna’s continued striving (she is mastering speaking over the phone for her new job!). Good luck, Anna!
April 10, 2017: Dan Krosse
Dan Krosse is an Emmy Award-winning television producer and the owner of DPK Media Solutions in Charleston, a company that helps businesses make the most of social media. He was here to talk to us about how IP targeted marketing works.
“Take our your phones and go to yahoo.com,” he said. “What ads do you see?”
April 3, 2017: Amy Rowe and Mary MacAlister
Amy Rowe and Mary MacAlister of the South Carolina Maritime Museum were our guests today at Open Forum. Amy is the Museum’s managing director and Mary is one of the founders of its Youth Sailing Program, now in fourth year.
“My parents forced me to learn to sail one summer,” Amy said, recalling that it was one of the “best things they ever did” for her because she ended up loving it. Mary learned to sail on Long Island Sound when she was a child. She got her husband interested in sailing and they ended up taking many voyages, including one with their three sons from Charleston to Ireland. (They were almost run down by a cruise ship one morning!)
Amy and Mary invited all the Kingfishers to participate in the Youth Sailing Program this summer. Kids from 8-14 can learn to sail on the Sampit River in small, safe boats called Optis. Older kids can serve as counselors.
Amy and Mary think that learning to sail is good mentoring for the children of today, giving them a much-needed sense of direction. Several TGS students have already benefitted from Youth Sailing at the SCMM. We hope to see some of you down on the Boardwalk this summer!
March 22, 2017: Elizabeth Morgan Putfark
“Writing should feel hard, or you’re not pushing yourself hard enough,” freelance writer, teacher, and editor Elizabeth Putfark told Kingfishers at Open Forum. She separated the reality of being a professional writer from the way people imagine it using a series of humorous slides to illustrate her own experience. “I’m mostly seen as a stay-at-home mom,” she laughed.
Elizabeth is in fact a teacher at Florida State University, a regular contributor to The Chronicle of the Horse (a national weekly equestrian magazine), and former managing editor of Flourish magazine. She grew up riding horses and ended up doing graduate work in Western literature, a background which has helped her find lots of work in equestrian publications.
“[Writing] is not a job where you get bored a lot,” Elizabeth said. “No one wants to read about boring things so the likelihood that you’ll have to write about boring things is small.” She shared some great advice to aspiring professional writers, much of which applies to students still writing for a teacher. She told us to treat deadlines as law, to be ready to go through several drafts and cut out your favorite sentences when they don’t fit, and to read the best of everything. We wish to thank Elizabeth for the inspiring and very informative talk! We were also honored to have Elizabeth’s daughter, mother and grandmother with us today.
March 8, 2017: Gary Gates
Dr. Gates reflected on women’s history this morning at Open Forum. He pointed out that just between 1889 and 1989, people went from driving around in a horse-and-buggy to landing on the Moon. Travel changed from a maximum of 25 mph to rocket speed. “A cell phone gives us everything in our pocket,” he said, not to mention developments in medicine, transportation, and …. women’s rights.
Dr. Gates remarked that the 20th century was the first time women were ever included in governing populations. Today women live a totally different world from the world of just 150 years ago. But someone first had to stand up and imagine things in a new way–someone had to stand up and realize that the status quo was wrong—there is no valid reason to exclude women from power. Because of such thinkers, there has been a giant shift in the way people in general think. The shift started gradually but eventually spread all across the globe in just a few years of human history.
“Be open,” Dr. Gates advised students. “Be willing to reconsider. Don’t think you know something when really you have no idea.” Education is all about making your mind changeable, about thinking through things differently. The political and economic power that women enjoy today started with minds able to be changed.
March 1, 2017: Yvonne Gamble
Yvonne Campbell is a calm and collected person, which might be because she was a teacher for 18 years! In any event, she has to remain calm and in control for her new job as director of Carolina’s Got Talent, where she oversees the auditions of scores of performers for this TV series and live broadcast from the Winyah Auditorium. Carolina’s Got Talent is a branch of the S.C. Media Arts Academy.
“I had no idea there were so many talented people in the Carolinas,” Yvonne told us. Many of them are looking for the chance to compete for cash prizes of up to $10,000 through the Carolina’s Got Talent program. She described the three rounds: an initial interview and audition, an assigned collaboration with another artist, and final televised performance in front of a panel of judges for the grand prize.
“Behind every artist there is a story, ” Yvonne said. She showed us several clips of interviews with various artists and of their performances. There were gospel singers, drummers, cloggers, magicians, and more. Although Yvonne didn’t get any volunteers to audition from among the Kingfishers, we still enjoy hearing all the acts in the Winyah Auditorium. All the best to Yvonne and her cool show!
February 1, 2017: Jonathan Sircy
The 2017 Georgetown Shakespeare Festival kicked off today with a highly entertaining presentation by Dr. Jonathan Sircy of Charleston Southern University entitled “The Kids are Alright? Romeo and Juliet and Youth Culture.” Jonathan got his doctorate at Carolina and has taught English at Charleston Southern since 2011. He has published in several prestigious journals and is currently finishing a new book.
Jonathan began by sharing a couple of examples of how the tale of Romeo and Juliet has been appropriated for use in modern culture. He showed an iPhone advertisement of a dad approvingly filming his nine-year-old daughter in the school play–Romeo and Juliet–and actually giving his daughter the thumbs-up when she has to kiss the little boy Romeo. Another appropriation of the tale can be found in Taylor Swift’s pop song “Love Story.” At the end of the song, Juliet has her dad’s permission to get married and is thrilled about getting to wear a white dress. “Romeo and Juliet used to mean trouble as death,” Jonathan said. “Today it has come to mean trouble as fun.”
Jonathan told us that the original story of Romeo and Juliet, a 15-century Italian poem, was intended as a cautionary tale: Romeo and Juliet desired what they shouldn’t have and got what they deserved. Shakespeare’s immortal version does not contradict that moral. However, it shows what results from Romeo and Juliet “getting what they deserve.” Instead of reinforcing the social structure, Shakespeare’s play dramatizes the end of both the Montague and the Capulet lineages. There are no young people left to continue–everyone is dead. “If there is no one left,” said Jonathan, “society is doomed.”
Jonathan has been reflecting on the hallowed place of Romeo and Juliet in school curricula–some 93% of 8th and 9th grade students read it each year. He is interested in what we are telling students when we tell them to read Romeo and Juliet. What will the ASC’s production this Wednesday teach us? We can’t wait to see!
January 25, 2017: Amelia Thompson
Amelia Thompson, attorney for South Carolina Environmental Legal Protection, was our guest today. She spoke to us about an ongoing legal battle over paving a certain road in Horry County called International Drive. On one side of the debate are developers and people who desire a more direct route to Myrtle Beach. On the other side are about 30 black bears who migrate across International Drive on their journey from North Carolina to Georgia.
It seems like the road is going to get paved, no matter what. But conservationists would like to install 9 wildlife tunnels under International Drive to allow animals to cross without getting hit by cars. The problem with tunnels would be if the property on the west side of International Drive were ever developed (and this seems inevitable) the tunnels would dump wildlife (including bears) right into the new neighborhood.
This is a tough problem! We will be following this story for months and maybe years to come. Good luck, Amelia!
January 4, 2017: Leigh Powers Boan
The Honorable Leigh Powers Boan, newly-elected probate judge for Georgetown County, was our guest today for Open Forum. Leigh attended U.S.C. for both undergraduate and law school, and practices with the McNair Firm of Pawleys Island. Leigh is a very special person to our school–she is an esteemed member of our founding Board of Directors, serving from 2013-2015.
Leigh told us about the ongoing debates over whether it is better to elect judges or have them appointed. Either way, she said, judges are required to be efficient, effective and to uphold the law. The probate judge is the only elected judge in Georgetown County. Leigh was unopposed in the general election in November because she actually won her position in the Republican primary, where only about 5,000 eligible voters out of 60,000 turned out. “Don’t ever think that your vote doesn’t count,” she said. “Whenever there is a vote in the place you live, you need to turn out–it matters!”
Probate court handles the distribution of people’s assets according to their last will and testament after their death, cases where there is no will (dying “intestate”), guardians and counselors for people who are not competent, marriage licenses and trust funds belonging to minors. The position of probate judge is one that requires much discretion and good judgement, and the people of Georgetown have put their trust in Leigh. We wish her all the best in her new tenure!
January 4, 2017: Nathan Gates
Nathan Gates, winner of the 2016 senior speech award, was our guest today. Nathan joked that he was not qualified to talk about college yet after only one semester, but he did have lots of concrete advice for each high school class.
“I wish I had started thinking about college earlier,” Nathan said. Besides concentrating on earning good grades and doing all homework, he recommended that students take all applicable SAT II and AP tests as soon after the class as possible. Ninth-graders should get started on testing, tenth-graders should investigate colleges and eleventh-graders should visit campuses. Twelfth-grades need to explore the world, for example, through internships. Nathan recommended starting on college essays early, so there would be plenty of time to revise. “Do things that put you in the best spot,” he said.
Nathan told us that to his surprise, Poetry was his favorite class (he is an engineering major). He said the hardest thing about college was having several long-term assignments all due around the same time–he likes to start assignments the day they are given so he has the maximum time to work on them. “A schedule is very important,” he said, “Don’t see work as something that ties you down, see it as something that gets you ahead.”
Good luck at the U. S. C. Honor College, Nathan! You make us proud!
November 30, 2016: Wendy Allen
Wendy Allen is the educational coordinator for the Baruch Institute, which is one of 29 NERR sites (National Estuarine Research Reserve) in the US. NERR monitors water quality, assesses the impact of coastal growth and protects biodiversity. “We have some of the longest data sets in the world,” she told us, “Some cover more than 30 years.”
According to Wendy, there has been a lot of change in our area over the last 30 years, not all of it for the good. As our area is developed and people enjoy the water more, more litter gets into our rivers and marshes. NERR organizes giant marsh clean-ups each year where volunteers go out and collect unbelievable amounts of man-made debris. (There were almost 4 million pounds of trash collected in one single U.S. clean-up!). The past two years have been especially challenging, because the massive flood and Hurricane Matthew.
What can we do? TGS Environmental Science students have helped with the marsh sweep for the past four years. Besides outreach and educational initiatives, Wendy would like to foster a greater awareness of the negative impact of littering by turning trash into sculptures. Wendy asked us all to contribute one idea about how to preserve our coastal ecosystem on a card. We look forward to seeing her and the folks out at Hobcaw on a spring field trip!
November 16, 2016: Betsy Brabson
“I’ve found that volunteer work has rewarded me more than any job I’ve ever had,” said Betsy Brabson, silk-screen artist and longtime volunteer for the S. C. United Turtle Enthusiasts. Betsy is now the SCUTE project director for DeBordieu, Hobcaw, and North Island. SCUTE was founded in the 1990 by DNR to address the problem of declining loggerheard turtle populations and it has had amazing success at protecting nests and hatchlings, gathering data, and educating the public about how to help the this 200-million-year-old species. SCUTE is all volunteers.
Betsy shared many interesting facts about loggerhead sea turtles. They can live to be 100 years old. Mature females produce 4-6 nests per season and all loggerheads have an internal GPS composed of magnetite in their brains which lets them know where they are at all times. The gender of each baby turtle is determined by the temperature of the nest–higher temperatures turn the eggs into females, lower temperatures create males. “Just think of ‘hot chicks, cool dudes’,” Betsy told us.
Sea turtles are still endangered but Betsy said that SCUTE is pleased to report a record 6444 nests in the 2016 season. We can help sea turtles by keeping the beaches free of trash, debris and holes, not building any hard structures on the dunes, turning off lights at the beach, and never disturbing nests or dunes. Betsy gave everyone a “Lights out! Sea Turtles Dig the Dark!” bumper sticker and encouraged us to do what we can to protect our fragile ecosystem.
November 8, 2016: Emma Boyer
“We are a community shaped by rivers,” said Emma Boyer, our Waccamaw Riverkeeper, as she showed us a map of the Winyah Bay watershed. Emma works for the Waccamaw Rivers Foundation, a non profit whose mission is to protect, preserve, monitor and revitalize this amazing watershed.
Emma was born in Charleston and graduated from St. Mary’s College in Maryland with a degree in biology. She went on to get her master’s at George Mason University. “I always knew I wanted to work in the sciences,” she told us. After studying birds and doing environmental education, Emma chose to focus on water quality because for her “water ties it all together.”
Emma told us how the WRF is playing a key role in the aftermath of historic flooding in our area in 2015 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. All that “extra” water has moved unprecedented amounts of debris and contaminants into the rivers and bay. Last year, the WRF’s Clean-Up removed 25,000 pounds of trash! Emma encouraged us to stay involved and spread the word about river health.
November 2, 2016: Foy Ford
“I threw out my job description years ago,” laughs Foy Ford, longtime manager of the Swamp Fox Players Theater, “I’ve dealt with everything except the air conditioning!” As theater manager, Foy must wear lots of different hats, but one of her main jobs is securing the rights to all the shows that the SFP produce. We were surprised to learn that a play can cost up to $800 and a musical costs from $10,000-$15,000. While managing all the financials, Foy also handles ticketing, seat assignments, the mailing list, and all the publicity of each show. Luckily, she has a lot of great help: “The theater really could not run without our volunteers,” she said. “They are the ones that make it happen–I just coordinate.”
The SFP are currently preparing their next offering, Christmas at the Strand. Foy invited all the Kingfishers to come volunteer–she always needs help with mail-outs. Our own Mrs. Josie Thames is an avid SFP volunteer and performer. We look forward to seeing her and Foy down at the Strand Theater!
October 26, 2016: Dick Clute and Donna Watkins
Today we had a visit from Dick Clute and Donna Watkins of the Family Justice Center, an
organization that provides free, confidential support for victims of domestic violence, with centers in Georgetown, Andrews, and Myrtle Beach. “Domestic violence is a difficult topic to talk about,” Dick Clute, president of the FJC’s board, told us. “It means abusing a partner emotionally, physically, or sexually.” Unfortunately, our state is in the top ten rated for domestic violence, with many cases of men killing women.
Donna Watkins, primary counselor for the FJC, described her job as amazingly rewarding. “I help people who have been broken by violence find a sense of freedom and peace,” she said, adding that being a victim of domestic violence often causes low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. She mentioned several “red flags” to be on the lookout for in relationships such as extreme jealousy and other controlling behaviors.
Last year alone, our FJC served 850 victims of domestic violence. We are looking forward to supporting the FJC by volunteering at their fundraiser Taste of Georgetown on November 5.
October 12, 2016: Tee Miller
Tee Miller, the City of Georgetown’s Economic Development Director, was born in Greenville and educated at U.S.C. and the University of Tennessee. After working for the USDA in Washington, DC, he and his family moved to Georgetown, where he opened a retail store on Front Street called Black Mingo and began to put his business and marketing skills to work to attract families and other businesses to Georgetown.
“We have a lot of economic problems in the city–lots of poverty, low education and an aging population,” he said, “This stops businesses from coming here.” However, Tee is very optimistic about Georgetown’s future and encouraged by the findings of the recent Urban Land Institute meetings, which brought together people from all walks of life to discuss our future. He told us that doing the same things we have done in the past won’t work now: “We need to look for something that can change us forever by creating new economic opportunities,” he said.
Tee left us with some thoughts about leadership, saying that leadership works better with people who have been places and who have seen first-hand how things work in other cities. “Georgetown has the quality of life,” he said but we need more. Tee served on the founding board of TGS because he believes that our school is precisely the sort of enterprise that will make the right sort of difference in downtown Georgetown. The kind of development we need will accomplish two things: increase our tiny population with creative and enterprising people and help our current population with better employment opportunities. We at TGS heartily support making Georgetown a more viable and hospitable place for ALL its citizens.
September 28, 2016: Donna Anderson
“Working together makes us all more effective,” said Donna Anderson of the Black River United Way. Donna is coordinating a $197,000 AmeriCorps grant to combat poor literacy in Georgetown and Williamsburg Counties in kindergarten through second grade. 72% of third-graders in Georgetown County read below grade level, so this is a serious issue. Donna was inspired in part to take the job by her priest, who said, “We give back, but are we giving back to the right people?” Donna likes her job because she knows she is making a difference in an area of concentrated need.
Growing Great Readers AmeriCorps is underway now. Two TGS seniors are participating: Lochlyn and Elizabeth go out to McDonald School every Wednesday to tutor kids in reading as part of the AmeriCorps team that serves 149 kids in 5 elementary schools.
Donna shared with us how participating in sports helped her learn many important life lessons: “Athletics helps you understand goals,” she told us, “and what it means to be a leader.” Donna was part of the amazing women’s soccer team of UNC-Chapel Hill that won three national championships. “I do credit a lot of my success to my experiences in college,” she concluded. Good luck Donna, Lochlyn and Elizabeth!
September 21, 2016: Rhonda Green
Rhonda Green, candidate for the Georgetown County School Board and mother of TGS senior Sarah, brought an extra sparkle to Open Forum this morning. She gave every student in the Auditorium a piece of a puzzle and used the idea of puzzles to connect to students. “Our lives are like a puzzle,” she said. “Every piece is already there, but your parents, families, and teachers show you how to put it all together.” Rhonda stressed that the big picture is there, even if we can’t see it yet. She encouraged us to play our part in the school puzzle: “You have to show up and take part—you can’t just go missing or skip out.” Without each and every piece, the puzzle is incomplete. She revealed what the puzzle she gave out would be—a beautiful kingfisher with our school’s name!
Rhonda graduated from Georgetown High and won the prestigious Bulldog Award for making positive changes at the high school. Her teacher Mrs. Hunt inspired her to study government. Rhonda went on to graduate from U.S.C. with a major in Government and International Studies. Nowadays, she is working for the good of Georgetown—she serves on the Zoning Commission and the Community Relations Board and also attends many City and County Council meetings to voice her opinions about decisions that are being made.
One reason Rhonda is running for school board is to make a change in curriculum—adding back in classes in government and electoral process. “Children need a better understanding of civics and government,” she said. According to her, they don’t understand enough about politics to be good citizens. Our community is not as good as it could be because of this gap in their education.
Rhonda ended with words of encouragement: “No matter where life takes you or what challenges you face, you have everything you need within.” Then Kingfishers were off for another Wonderful Wednesday, saving their puzzle pieces for a lunchtime get-together!
September 14, 2016: Randy Walker
“Whatever you choose in life, you have to be prepared on the education side,” said Randy Walker, director of Georgetown County Parks and Recreation. Randy talked to us about his own educational path and the importance of avoiding negative peer pressure.
After graduating from Howard High School, Randy enrolled at S.C. State College on a football scholarship, but soon dropped out because of the demands of the program. “It was the worst decision of my life,” he said, “I had a chance to get an education and I walked out on it.” Randy got another shot at college after working construction for awhile–he got another football scholarship to Morris Brown College in Atlanta. This time he was ready to accept the challenge: “I came away with my degree and lot of athletic honors,” he told us.
Randy talked to the students about times when they feel peer pressure and when it is difficult to do the right thing. He said, “You have to know when to walk away from your friends.” As director of Parks and Recreation, Randy uses sports to help the youth of our county. He is running for a seat on the county school board this fall for District 4.
September 7, 2016: Wardell Brantley
Wardell Brantley is the director of the Winyah Auditorium and the founder of the S. C. Media Arts Academy. He is helping with a class on technology this semester at our school and he talked to us about the idea of “Branding My Future.” “Branding My Future” is all about using your online presence to achieve your goals, such as getting into a college or getting a job.
All scholarship committees and potential employers track students on line. Wardell encouraged us to play around with the idea of “highlight videos” like the ones about college athletes on television. These would showcase achievements and goals in a relatively new and catchy way. “They want to see your accomplishments,” said Wardell, encouraging us to create mini-documentaries about ourselves and to build up a video history that could be used to make a highlight video. He told us that even if we don’t think about ourselves as a product, we truly are in today’s market. So get busy and create a visual record that shows who you really are and puts you out there in a positive light! It’s fun and Wardell is here to help.
August 31, 2016: Debbie Mann
When it comes to water quality and soil conservation, Debbie Mann does it all. She works for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, one of the subsidiaries of the U. S. Department of Agriculture. “Soil quality affects us all,” she told us, using an apple and a knife to demonstrate how very little (only 1/32) of the Earth’s surface is arable land. When soil is lost through erosion due to wind, storms or water movement, we all lose. “It takes 1000 years for an inch of topsoil to develop,” she said. So, how we manage this invaluable resource is very important.
Debbie mainly deals with small farmers, helping them to implement practices that will preserve and nurture our topsoil. Techniques such as crop rotation, planting cover crops and winter planting all keep the topsoil rooted and fertile. The value of these practices is confirmed: “We had one farmer in Florence County who used no [commercial] fertilizer last year,” she said.
We asked Debbie about the future of hydroponic farming. She thought it was good but incapable of ever rivaling the volume of food that traditional farming produces. She saw both good and bad in GMOs, telling us that they can reduce the need for chemicals in farming.
Debbie said that she originally wanted to be a vet because she loved horses but decided to focus on plants and agriculture in college. “I always knew I wanted to work outside,” she said, “I just love growing things!” Debbie loves her work and encouraged us to seek work that we deem fulfilling and important, concluding: “Do what you love and you’ll love what you do!”
August 24, 2016: Laura Herriott
Laura Herriott came to talk to us about Sandy Island for our first Open Forum of the year. Mrs. Herriott, owner of a Sandy Island bed-and-breakfast called Wilma’s Cottage, is a life-long resident of this historic island. One eΧtraordinary fact about her childhood is that she never left Sandy Island until seventh grade. She was educated in grades 1-6 in a two-room schoolhouse with outdoor plumbing and only venetian blinds separating the two classrooms. Back then, the children’s teachers were strict: if you weren’t on time, you had to cut your own switch and take your punishment! According to Mrs. Herriott, there was plenty for young kids to do: swim, fish, play in the sand, do hopscotch, jump rope and more. However, life on the island was also challenging. “We would be more companionable than you would be,” she told us, “because we had more to overcome.”
At 9000 acres, Sandy Island is the largest freshwater island on the East Coast. It was colonized by freed slaves who had worked on local rice plantations. This close-knit but very isolated community only got electricity around 1967 and has never been developed, though there have been attempts. The population has dwindled over the years from 200 to about 50, but for Mrs. Herriott, this is not a real problem. “The community would love it to stay the same,” she said. Because Sandy Island is only accessible by water, islanders live their lives by the boat schedule, with school kids departing at 6:15 and returning in the afternoon on South Carolina’s only school boat.
“I would love for you to come see me,” Mrs. Herriot told the Kingfishers at the end, inviting us to take the Sunday morning boat over for a visit to her bed-and-breakfast and a walking tour of this amazing island. Thank you, Laura Herriott!
(by the 9th Grade Writing Lab)
May 18, 2016: Senior Speeches
Today our seniors took their final step before Graduation: giving their Senior Speeches. Each senior is required to choose a topic of interest and defend a position in a speech before the whole school. Brian Williams discussed new systems in schools that inflate grades and leave students unprepared for higher learning: “High school should be a wake-up call if students are going to college,” he said. Zachary McKinley talked about the reasons for raising the voting age to 25. “Don’t think of this as a loss of freedom, ” he told us. “Think of it as putting the decision in the most qualified hands possible.” Nathan discussed the benfits of reducing class sizes in the public schools. “Smaller class size is the most important aspect of changing our school system,” he said.
All three candidates did a great job speaking and fielded questions from the audience of students, faculty and parents with grace and poise. Their performance is currently being evaluated to see which one will win the Senior Speech Award.
May 11, 2016: Brook Kent
April 20, 2016: Marnie Renshler
Marnie Renshler was our guest at Open Forum on April 20. Marnie taught for four years after graduating from the College of Charleston, then decided to go into sales. She had been working in sales for twenty years when an accident led her into a new career. Marnie talked to us about how she got the idea for a new company.
Marnie and her neighbor were running together in the dark when her neighbor stepped on a pine cone and broke her foot. She decided that she would look into ways that runners could see and be seen in the dark. As she did her research, she found amazing lights for all sorts of activities at night. She found lights for bikes, runners, skateboards, sports, dog leashes, small children, and more. She showed us a bunch of these products which are indeed a fun and safe way to play and exercise in the dark.
Marnie then created a website called Mamalights.com to make these fun lights more popular, which hopefully will be her new career. “People I’m friends with say I’m as crazy as can be, but I’m going to give it a shot,” she said. Her website will act like a sales representative for the lights. The site then leads the buyer to Amazon where the products can be bought, shipped, and handled. “It’s like I’m a sales rep, but in a fun way,” she told us. Marnie concluded her presentation by discussing several Jim Carrey quotes to inspire the students. One of our favorites was, “How will you serve the world? How will your talent help others?” Thank you for your presentation, Marnie, and best of luck with your cool new company! Mamalights.com will be on line next week.
By Grayha Hejl, Savanna Morris and Ryleigh Neubauer
April 19, 2016: Ed Bell
“It’s not about the money,” Ed Bell said, “It’s about taking a step forward, making a difference.” Ed Bell, local attorney and founder of Bell Law Firm, is also the president of the Charleston School of Law. He talked to us about his education, his career, and his current projects. Ed Bell attended Wofford and graduated from USC. His family thought he would study medicine like his father, but he decided being a doctor wasn’t for him, instead earning a law degree from USC. “Going to law school opened the world up for me,” Ed Bell shared.
He told us about his first case, right out of law school: he got a call at 2:00 am from the mother of a boy who had been arrested for murder. The young lawyer was able to prove to the jury with a photo that police had tampered with the evidence. The boy was proven innocent and Ed Bell won the case. Today the former defendant has two children, one in college and one who recently graduated college. “If someone had not cared to help him, he may have still been in prison today,” Ed Bell said.
Next he shared a story of a famous case he took on against Ford Motor Company. In the mid 1990s, Ford Explorers were rolling over and killing people with alarming frequency. Ed Bell’s team was able to prove that Ford engineers were aware that there were problems with the car’s suspension and that roof strength was insufficient. (Part of the Bell Law Firm’s preparation and strategy involved working together with 30 other firms to open an innovative jury research project in Colorado in 1994). Today, Bell Law Firm is the only law firm in the country that has never lost a case against Ford.
Ed Bell has turned the Charleston School of Law around with his vision, support and innovation. He would like it to be one of the premier law schools in the country. He is taking steps to help the students help the community as part of the curriculum. For example, CSL will be working with Huffy Bikes to raise money for charities. Incoming freshmen receive a free bike from Huffy with a tracker, and for every mile they ride, a certain amount of money is donated to charity. “You guys have the opportunity to do something for someone else everyday of your life,” Ed Bell shared, “Learn that it is there for you.”
In the future, Ed Bell also plans to have a program at CSL where students join a ‘mini- law firm’ affiliated with real lawyers during their second year of law school. Students and practicing attorneys will work together to research and even try real cases–before the students even graduate. We want to thank Ed Bell for taking the time to talk to us and wish him all the best with his exciting projects.
By Meredith Owens
April 13, 2016: Dennis Babcock
Last week the 5th graders took a walk to the former steel mill. Looking through the fence, Mrs. Montgomery saw a number on a sign. The students were interested in touring the site, so she called the number. Mr. Dennis Babcock not only agreed to give them a tour, but became our Open Forum speaker this week! Dennis Babcock was born and raised in Florida but eventually moved to South Carolina. He spent eight years in the Marine Corps as a military policeman, then worked as a firefighter in Charleston County, eventually becoming part of a Hazmat team. Then, he started working for a company called HEPACO, where he is currently in his fourth year as supervisor.
HEPACO is a hazardous materials management company that cleans up silos, mills, train grounds, chemicals, and sometimes even dead bodies. “We pretty much clean up anything that other people don’t want to,” Dennis told us. HEPACO works closely with DHEC, cleaning sites until they meet DHEC’s standards. Workers at HEPACO have to be protected against anything that could harm them. Dennis brought some of his protective suits and gear with him to show us today: a flame retardant suit, an acid suit, a blue tube that floats on water and absorbs petroleum without absorbing the water, and a yellow suit that protects the body from any hazardous vapor. “The exhalation valve (on the yellow suit) will allow nothing in but will allow your breath out so you don’t walk around looking like a giant banana,” he commented. He left some of the powders HEPACO uses to absorb substances with us to try out: Gator Oil, Micro Blaze, and Teal Sorb.
Students and faculty asked Dennis about the cleaning of the steel mill site. He explained to us that the contaminated dust they are cleaning now should be gone within the next month, but he said it would take 10-15 years to completely decontaminate the property so that it can be reused. We really appreciate Dennis’s sharing his work and equipment with us, and we are honored to have been the first school he ever spoke to!
By Meredith Owens
April 6, 2016: Guerry Green
“There is opportunity everywhere, but believe me, you’ve got to be looking for it,” said Guerry Green, founder of local manufacture Screen Tight. Guerry Green is an inventor and innovator who grew up in Pawleys Island. He went to school right here at Winyah High School, then graduated from U.S.C. Since the age of 17, he has always had a dream, and that dream was to own his own business. He ended up fulfilling that goal with Screen Tight.
Screen Tight manufactures products for screened porches which are sold nationwide in stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s. But it did not reach this level of success immediately–Guerry had to work very hard for a long time. He told us that when he created Screen Tight, he literally had to give his first product away for review–he couldn’t sell it. It so happened that he installed it on a house on Sullivan’s Island right before Hurricane Hugo. Screen Tight was tested to the extreme and came through intact. A glowing review from the homeowner scored Guerry his first patent and Screen Tight was launched.
Guerry gave us some good advice: “You may not be able to outsmart someone, but it is your choice to out-work your peers,” he said, “I’ve out-worked a lot more people than I’ve outsmarted.” Guerry is a hardworking man and that is the reason he was able to make his company successful. If everybody had an attitude like his, it would make our school and our world a better place. We look forward to visiting the Screen Tight plant soon!
(by Zachary Wesolowski)
March 23, 2016: Lee Brockington
“History is no more than the study of the foibles of men,” said Lee Brockington, quoting Edward Gibbon. Lee is the senior interpreter at the Hobcaw Barony Discovery Center and she was here to tell about the life of Belle Baruch and how it played out against history—Georgetown County history, American history and the history of Europe.
When millionaire Bernard Baruch moved his family to Hobcaw in 1905 during the second “Northern invasion,” his daughter Belle was only five years old. She grew to love the property, calling it “the friendliest woods in the world.” Here and at school she became a world-class equestrienne and sailor who had to deal with a certain amount of discrimination because of her height (she was 6’2”) and her Jewish name. Her parents eventually agreed to sell her 5000 acres of the beloved property and she moved home, beginning to think like an ecologist and to craft a plan for the future of Hobcaw.
Belle was the first woman to be deputized in Georgetown County and during World War II, at least one of her log book reports led to the arrest of a German saboteur. When she died from cancer in 1962, everything was in place to found a 16,000 acre research center, an outdoor laboratory for forest, marine and ecological research. “It gives scientists from all over the world a chance to study relatively untouched environments,” said Lee, noting that today Hobcaw is used by 30 different colleges and universities.
We thank Lee Brockington for her visit and look forward to going out again to Hobcaw very soon!
March 16, 2016: Dr. Sylvia Rivers
“We have this perfect communications system that we are born with,” said Dr. Sylvia Rivers, “and addiction taps into that.” Dr. Rivers is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the MUSC Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs. She explained how dopamine is released from our brains to make us feel pleasure when we engage in behaviors that are healthful: eating, drinking, exercising. Drugs also cause the brain to release large amounts of dopamine, making the user want to repeat the experience. But after a while, the body cuts down dopamine production, making the user less able to feel normal pleasures. The addicted person’s body is “hijacked” and feels like it is starving for the drug.
Dr. Rivers told us that the human brain is not fully developed until age 25, therefore young people are at an increased risk for drug and alcohol addiction. Young people are curious and feel invulnerable, but it is much safer to delay trying even legal drugs. “It is easier not to start than it is to stop,” she advised. She shared some “before and after” photos of meth abusers and a short video of two mice, one normal and the other an addict. The addicted mouse spent all of its time frantically pressing a bar to get more of its drug.
We were quite surprised when Dr. Rivers donned latex gloves and pulled a mysterious object from a box behind her: a preserved human brain. “It looks like fat spaghetti!” said Jack. Molly disagreed, “No, more like chocolate yogurt.” Dr. Rivers invited everyone up to the stage for a closer look at the miraculous organ and took some final questions. Dr. Rivers helped make us aware of the both the process and the dangers of addiction.
February 17, 2016: Michelle Bland
“I don’t consider myself smart, I just consider myself someone who doesn’t give up,” said Michelle Bland as she took the floor for Open Forum on February 17. Michelle Bland grew up in North Santee with her mother, father and three brothers. She didn’t do very well in school at first, so her father forced her to learn reading and study skills. She made so much progress in school that she was able to teach her brothers math up to the 5th grade. Michelle decided she was going to grow up and make something of her life. She graduated and went on to earn a degree in math from Coastal Carolina University. Then she opened a private school in the community she grew up in: Bland’s Faith Academy. Today Michelle Bland is a math teacher at Waccamaw Elementary and tutors math for Horry-Georgetown Technical College.
Through life Michelle has faced things that some people feel they can never overcome. Michelle’s dad passed away when she was only 12 years old and she thought about just giving up. “He was my greatest influence,” she shared. Michelle overheard her mother in her bedroom praying asking God to help them. The look of peace on her mother’s face gave her the courage to do the same. Prayer has been her response to adversity ever since. Before finishing her last semester at Coastal she got into a very bad car accident; doctors told her she would never be able to walk again and that the baby she was carrying at the time would not be ‘normal.’ She gave it all to God and everything turned out fine. She had her first beautiful baby girl and was able to walk again.
Michelle learned to love math because of a very special teacher she had in 9th grade who tutored her so she could take a higher-level class. “Whenever Ms. Roberts saw my face, she would drop everything she was doing and give me that quality time,” Michelle told us, expressing her gratitude. Michelle inspired all the students and staff with her talk this morning not to give up, not to fear change, and not to try to be someone they’re not. “Life is like a puzzle,” she said. “When you complete the puzzle you see that every piece fits somewhere.”
(by Meredith Owens)
February 10, 2016: Laura Rose
What a great end to the Georgetown Shakespeare Festival we had! Laura Rose, scholar, director and actor from Charleston, visited TGS on February 10, to give the closing lecture of The 2016 Georgetown Shakespeare Festival. Laura Rose is the artist director for Charleston’s Holy City Shakespeare company, and is currently working on her doctorate in rhetoric. Today she gave us some insight on how Shakespeare used rhetoric in writing his plays.
“Rhetoric is an art,” Laura Rose told us, “And art is made up of technique.” Rhetoric has been studied for thousands of years and it means simply finding the best possible means of persuasion. She mentioned as examples the things you would say to convince your teacher to give you an extension on writing your essay or the things a candidate would say to secure your vote. The three appeals of rhetoric are Ethos, Logos and Pathos. Ethos appeals to shared moral beliefs, Logos uses argument and Pathos stirs up emotion.
People use rhetoric all the time, in speech and in writing, and of course, Shakespeare was a master. As students saw Monday, Julius Caesar is full of rhetorical devices and techniques. In the scene after Caesar’s death (sorry for the spoiler for those who have not seen the play!), Brutus uses Ethos in his speech to the common people to convince them that he killed Caesar for them and the city of Rome. Mark Antony also deploys rhetoric in his speech, but concentrates more on Pathos that Ethos, because he want to move the citizens to anger towards Brutus.
Laura Rose told us a little bit about working for Holy City Shakespeare. “It wasn’t my thing just to read and write,” she said “I wanted to bring Shakespeare alive.” She decided a few years back that she wanted to start a nonprofit organization to perform Shakespeare’s plays in such a way that audiences could understand them. This often means making them more modern or more “Charleston.” “If you don’t understand the play being performed or it is boring, it’s the company’s fault, not yours,” Laura Rose said. “For Shakespeare is never boring.”
(by Meredith Owens)
February 3, 2016: Dr. Scott Lucas
Dr.Scott Lucas kicked off the 2016 Georgetown Shakespeare Festival by delivering a talk entitled History into Literature: Shakespeare’s Historical Art. Dr. Lucas graduated from Berkley and got his doctorate at Duke. He has been teaching English literature at The Citadel since 1998.
Dr. Lucas’ paper explored how Shakespeare transformed historical writings of his day into plays. During Shakespeare’s time, historical writing consisted of chronicles—long lists of un-systematized and un-interpreted events recorded by monks. Sir Thomas More was among the first historical writers in English to become interested in why events happened. He began to analyze and interpret them. More also tried to bring history to life by inventing speeches for historical characters and this device inspired Shakespeare. Around the same time in 1542, Edward Hall published his chronicle of The War of Roses. Shakespeare began reading Hall’s chronicles and fell in love with them. Hall “opened the floodgates” for historical literature, becoming a major source for Shakespeare’s history plays. Another source for Shakespeare was William Baldwin, author of A Mirror of Magistrates (1559). This book consisted of regretful speeches by the ghosts of criminal historical personages, intended as an admonition to those currently in power.
Dr. Lucas told us that Shakespeare was inventing a new type of English literature: the history play. Shakespeare’s first history plays were wildly popular but not yet good literature. Gradually he refined his technique, first by showing rather than telling events. Shakespeare got better and better at using arguments among characters to convey motivations and speeches by characters to reveal their thoughts and humanize them. In this way, the public could feel a connection and have an emotional response to history. Many thanks to Dr. Lucas for his talk, which will help us better enjoy Julius Caesar and Henry V this weekend!
January 27, 2016: Leslie Moore
“My title is editor but I have always been a writer,” said Leslie Moore at Open Forum on Wednesday, January 27. Leslie went to school at Coastal Carolina University when it was The University of South Carolina at Coastal. She majored in English, graduated, and went on to write for the Inlet Messenger in Murrells Inlet. Later in life she became the volunteer coordinator for Hospice and then the director of Habitat for Humanity. Today she is the editor of Strand Media.
Strand Media publishes many works, printed and digital. Their main publication is Sasee, a magazine directed towards women. This magazine was started in 2005, and is read by a quarter million people and viewed online by one million people. Strand Media also publishes two visitor guides; Strand (for Myrtle Beach visitors) and Charleston Gateway (for visitors of Mt. Pleasant and Charleston). The team at Strand Media meets monthly to gather ideas for the editorial section of all of their published pieces. Sasee is put together two months ahead of time, then sent to Georgia for printing. “Print is a difficult business now,” Leslie shared, “Everyone goes online.”
Interviewing is Leslie’s favorite part of journalistic writing. “It’s so much fun,” she told us, “Everybody has a story.” Leslie writes many of Strand Media’s articles, but people can also submit their work to be published. She has to read over and grammatically check everything. “I’m the one who knows where the comma goes!” Leslie said. She shared with the students how important good writing skills are, no matter what profession you choose. Leslie invited us to submit photos, art work and articles to be published in Strand Media publications. Listening to her speak was great for the students, especially those in our Journalism class.
(by Meredith Owens)
January 6, 2016: Robert “Mac” MacAlister
“The ocean was a rough life,” Mac MacAlister told us as he explained how sailors in the nineteenth century endured an 84-hour workweek, sleep deprivation, a terrible diet and extreme loneliness on voyages that often lasted for years. Mac is an experienced sailor and the director of the South Carolina Maritime Museum. He graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in mechanical engineering and spent his life in construction engineering. Now retired, he is the author of four books on the maritime history of Georgetown County.
Mac shared with us the history of the Henrietta, the largest wooden vessel ever built in S.C. In the late 1800s, most ships were constructed in New England from pine, cypress and oak that was harvested in the South. Shipbuilder William Buck of Maine decided in 1874 to save money by building the Henrietta on the banks of the Waccamaw River using skilled craftsmen from the northeast. “The ship was taller than any building, taller than the trees,” said Mac, “It looked like a cathedral being built.”
After a difficult launch, the Henrietta was ready to take to the seas. She was a 200-foot square-rigger of the type known as a “Down Easter,” much like a clipper ship but able to transport even more cargo. With a crew of 25, she went all over the world from 1875-1893. Sadly, in 1893, she was damaged by a typhoon and broken up and sold for firewood in Kobe, Japan.
Mac is a good friend to TGS. He and his wife Mary helped us with the Wooden Boat Show anniversary book and know several of our students through the S.C.M.M.’s Youth Sailing program. We look forward to visiting the museum soon.
January 6, 2016: David Culliton
“Things aren’t always going to go the way you want them to,” said David Culliton. “You’ve got to just take your opportunities and go with it.” David is Lizzy’s older brother, Pierce and Joanna’s son, and former student of many of our faculty. David left the Colorado School of Mines at the end of his freshman year after finding out that engineering was not for him. He had always been a gifted student in math and chemistry and today he is back in Colorado, making his living as a viticulturist and oenologist at the family vineyard.
David arrived to work at Sutcliffe Vineyards just in time for the fall harvest: 14-hour days, 7 days a weeks for as many weeks as it took to get the grapes processed. “There was lots of work to be done that I hadn’t done before,” he admitted, but the wine business soon captured his interest completely. Besides doing field work and making wine deliveries, David is now responsible for 90-95% of the lab testing that goes into producing the finest wines possible. “You can bring in this fresh fruit, this beautiful fruit,” he said, “and get this very complex product.” He described grapes as “little balls of juice.”
David encouraged students to get the most out of middle and high school and to take advantage of the caring atmosphere. We wish him all the best as he heads back out West today.
December 9, 2015: Paul Gardner
“Teaching was by far the most stressful job I have ever had,” said Georgetown Chief of Police Paul Gardner, our guest for Open Forum. Gardner left teaching to make a career at the FBI from 1983-2007, where he worked in anti-corruptions, anti-terrorism and narcotics. “The first time you say ‘Freeze–FBI!’ it’s just like Whoa!” he told students. Mr. Gardner talked on a variety of topics: his education and career, the Bill of Rights, the organization of our court system, and the current state of relations between communities and police.
Mr. Gardner recently went to Chicago for a national police chiefs’ convention, which featured an address by President Obama. “We need reconciliation,” said Mr. Gardner, echoing the president’s sentiment. Even if a crime was something that people were not personally a part of, they still need to recognize it as a crime and regret that it happened. Squad car cameras and body cameras are a good thing for law enforcement, in Mr. Gardner’s opinion. He brought up the case of the recent police shooting (in the back) of an unarmed suspect in North Charleston, where a citizen’s video clarified events. Mr. Gardner ended his talk with role plays involving an officer responding to a suspicious person. We learned that things are not always clear and that police must make difficult judgement calls.
Students responded enthusiastically with many questions for the police chief. We thank Paul Gardner for his patience, his service to the community, and his visit to our school.
(by Zachary Wesolowski and Zach McKinley)
December 2, 2015: Taylor Griffith
Taylor Griffith, reporter for the Georgetown Times and South Strand News, is a self-described “writer, photographer, Terp, and foodie.” She became hooked on journalism in high school, where she took newspaper and yearbook, then attended the University of Maryland to major in journalism. According to Taylor, a journalist has certain core values: curiosity, fairness, truthfulness, and care in telling stories. Being a good writer comes with time and practice. “Don’t worry if you don’t know how to write yet,” she said, “You will learn.”
Taylor talked to us about the realities of today’s job market, advising students to create their own websites in college and to use social media wisely. After graduating from Maryland, she applied for 80 jobs and only got one call-back. “The only one that called me was the one that hired me,” she said, “and that is the only one that ever mattered.”
Taylor encouraged students to try new things in college and find out what they really enjoy. She found out she particularly enjoys writing about art and artists. This year, she did a piece on local artist Charles Williams which is up for a journalistic award. Next Wednesday is Taylor’s last day at the Georgetown Times—she is moving to Washington, DC. We wish her well and thank her for covering our school!
November 18, 2015: Grainger McKoy
“I’ve been sculpting as long as your parents are old!” said Grainger McKoy as he opened his talk about his artistic career to TGS. Grainger McKoy is Graham’s grandfather. He started Clemson as architecture major but then switched to zoology and has now been a sculptor for nearly 45 years. Sculpting is the art of taking something of little value and adding value through shaping it, he said. Grainger has produced more than 750 sculptures. including major commissions from the Hollins Cancer Center at MUSC and the city of Sumter for Swan Lake. His work is on display at Brookgreen Gardens and the Atlanta High Museum.
Grainger has always loved wood and birds. He grew up in a log cabin surrounded by nature. When he was a young boy his mother let him cut the end of the logs off their house to carve with. From this wood, Grainger carved his very first bird. His mother was one of his “encouragers.” “When I came home from school and shared my plans to become a sculptor, she grabbed my hand and said ‘Grainger, that is a wonderful adventure!’” he said.
Grainger told us that he preferred to use bass wood, a very strong, stable hardwood grown in the Appalachian Mountains. It takes time and patience to carve a work of art, but it also takes knowing when to stop. Holding up a large block and a small toothpick, he said, “Anybody can take a piece of bass wood and make this toothpick I’m holding, but it takes a talent to know when to stop,” he said, “Somewhere in the middle is a bird.”
Grainger said the only reason he became the artist he is today is because of the people he had by his side encouraging him the entire time. We are so pleased to welcome Grainger McKoy and the whole family to our school and thank him for bringing the model of his sculpture “Recovery Stroke” so we could really get a sense of his art.
By Meredith Owens and Zachary Wesolowski
November 11, 2015: Barry Brown
On Veterans’ Day, Mr. Barry Brown (retired USMC) told us that for him, going into the Marine Corps was a good decision. He ended up serving in Scotland, Pakistan and Vietnam during the Vietnam War. When he returned to the States, he decided to study interrogation techniques at Northwestern in order to work as a loss prevention manager for UPS. Part of his training in criminal psychology was to interview pathological liars at Sing-Sing Prison. Barry retired at age 50 after working all over the U.S.
Barry’s job as a profiler at UPS was to prevent theft by employees using “behavioral analysis.” He explained to us how the process of getting at the truth with a suspected employee was handled. “I know more than their parents do about them when they come through the door,” he said. Without using lies, harsh language, threats or violence, Barry would closely observe their body language and get them to talk without allowing them to lie either. Guilty people have certain involuntary reactions to stress (defensive body language, talking jags, passing out, becoming abusive) which Barry could analyze to determine if the employee had stolen packages or falsified documents. “The whole body relaxes with confession,” he said.
Barry encouraged our Honor Council to be proud of their job of protecting the reputation of the school. “Don’t let anyone make you so anything that will cause you to lose your integrity,” he told us. He also encouraged us to read, especially history. We thank Barry for his service and are proud to have both him and his wife Priscilla of Murrells Inlet as new friends of The Georgetown School!
October 21, 2015: Leslie Ayres
“When you can give back and get to see a child’s … face light up, it is a high like no other,” said Leslie Ayres as she spoke to the students and faculty about the opportunities and benefits of volunteering. Leslie graduated from Central Michigan with a teaching degree and taught special education for 15 years. Today she is the Executive Director of Georgetown County’s Cultural Council. The Cultural Council’s mission is to promote the arts in Georgetown County. This non-profit organizes many arts-related events throughout the year and awards thousands of dollars in scholarships for private study to young musicians and visual artists.
Leslie talked to the students about many opportunities for community service with the Cultural Council, including the “Breakfast with Santa” on December 5th. She emphasized that all the local non-profits need volunteers. If you want to be put to work, she says, “All you have to do is ask.”
Leslie is excited about the Cultural Council’s latest project: applying for a $500,000 national grant to bring the arts to Georgetown. “Walk Through Georgetown” will give visiting artists places to live, work, create and display right here in our city. Tourists and residents alike will be able to walk around and view art installations. “Georgetown is a pretty awesome place,” she said, “We want people to see the city as a whole.” Congratulations to Leslie on a very successful first year of leading the Cultural Council!
October 7, 2015: Jennifer Fraczek
“The best time to take care of your body is now,” said Jennifer Fraczek, a physical therapist from Tidelands Health in Pawleys Island. Jennifer graduated from Clarkson University in upstate New York, becoming a traveling therapist. A physical therapist is a type of health care professional who works with gross motor skills (large movement) and restores joint mobility and muscle strength. Jennifer’s clients include athletes, older people, injured people, and people recovering from surgery. It may seem odd, but physical therapists even prep patients for surgery.
“We hurt you because we love you,” said Jennifer. She joked that some clients call PT’s “physical torturers” and “physical terrorists.” But physical therapists never proceed without asking the client questions to help them determine how far to push.
Several students at TGS are looking at careers in the health care field. Jennifer recommended majoring in a science (biology, psychology, kinesiology, and sports medicine) or business or even engineering. She told us about a field of physical therapy called rehabilitative engineering which works on mechanical aids to mobility, such as prosthetics. We all would love to see Jennifer again, just not at the rehab center!
September 30, 2015: Jeep Ford
“I am more nervous talking to students than I am talking to senators and congressmen!” Jeep Ford laughed as he opened his discussion of oil drilling off the coast line of South Carolina. Jeep started South Carolina Oil and Gas Association with a friend 2 years ago to create positive growth and revenue in the Georgetown area by attracting oil companies to explore offshore drilling. President Obama lifted a ban on offshore oil drilling and now many big oil companies are using seismic cannons to locate deposits.
“Whether we like it or not, the federal government is going to make it happen,” Jeep said, and his company wants to make sure Georgetown and South Carolina will get their fair share of the millions of dollars that will be in play. According to Jeep, oil exploration will create roughly 232 jobs in Georgetown County, while oil discovery and pumping will create 9000 more jobs, presumably in construction jobs to build an extensive infrastructure: oil rigs, pipelines, and refineries.
During the question and answer period, several people mentioned the possible negative impact of off shore drilling. Jeep explained what happened at Deep Water Horizon and admitted that “accidents happen in every industry. It’s just a matter of regulating it so it doesn’t hurt our environment.” He said there are no scientific links between the use of seismic cannons and harming any animals in the ocean.
Jeep helped South Carolina create regulations for oil drilling. He is pushing for 30% of the potential money to remain in South Carolina. He is convinced that more industries would come to South Carolina if we had a better oil and natural gas infrastructure. “I personally would like to move away from fossil fuels but we cannot function without them yet,” said Jeep. And, he says, since oil exploration seems inevitable, Georgetown, South Carolina needs to make the best of the situation.
September 23, 2015: Jack Scoville
The Honorable Jack Scoville, mayor of Georgetown, shared what it means to be a mayor and discussed some of the most pressing issues facing Georgetown today. Georgetown has a population of about 9,000 and a strong mayor/council form of government. Besides providing clean water, the city is also responsible for police protection, fire protection, and utilities. In 1915, 100 years ago, Georgetown did not have a sewer system. The streets were filthy and citizens’ well water was sometimes contaminated. “Having an indoor bathroom back then was like driving a Mercedes today,” Mayor Scoville said. Today we have paved roads, a sewage system, and a waste water treatment facility.
The fortunes of Front Street have risen in the last 40 years. The mayor told us that back in 1977, Front Street was so abandoned that they painted shoppers onto store windows just to make them seem busy. “Georgetown is now a very vibrant and successful city,” he said, although he admitted that our population has declined by 5% every census from 1960 to 2010 (in 2010 there was a slight rise).
Mayor Scoville was very willing to discuss current issues with us, including the closing of the steel mill and the future of the 700 block of Front Street. He shared with us that the shutting of the steel mill had both a positive and negative effect on the city. Hundreds of jobs were lost but the mill had been laying off or relocating workers for years. Now, the steel mill property can be redeveloped. Of course, both the steel mill and the 700 block of Front Street are owned privately, so the city has no direct control over their fate. Mayor Scoville has heard many ideas for what should be done on these sites, and laughs that if he only had $35 million, he would take all the ideas into consideration! He kindly invited us to attend any City Council meeting on the third Thursday of the month to learn more about municipal government.
September 9, 2015: Frank Johnson
“I have always loved storms,” said Frank Johnson, meteorologist for Channel 13 News of Myrtle Beach. “When I was a kid, if we had a storm and I was out of school, I would go to the beach and watch the waves roll in.” Frank said he was good at math and science in high school up in Massachusetts (he was on the math team.) After graduating from Penn State with a major in meteorology, he eventually found a job at AccuWeather but didn’t enjoy it. “It felt like I was in a weather factory,” he said, because he was stuck in his cubicle forecasting on the computer. He decided to move on, taking a series of weather-related jobs in Colorado, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas, before landing in South Carolina at Channel 13. However, Frank is a scientist first, a TV broadcaster second.
Frank has seen a lot of beautiful storms. The prettiest thunderstorm he ever saw was in the Texas Panhandle near High Plains. “I could look to the west and see thunderstorms in New Mexico and look to the east and see thunderstorms in Oklahoma. The visibility is absolutely amazing in High Plains,” he said. Frank also has a favorite tornado, one which touched down close to McLean, Texas. “It was beautiful,” he said “It was just me by myself [watching].” Frank noted that since the movie Twister, people have become more fascinated with tornadoes, and that tornado chasing has become even more dangerous because of the numbers of people chasing the same tornado.
Frank’s advice to students interested in science and math is to start calculus in high school because it will much harder at the college level. (Luckily, we Kingfishers can take up to two years of calculus at our school!) We will be looking for Frank Johnson on Channel 13 during the 2015 hurricane season!
September 2, 2015: Dr. Dan Abel
“I always get a shark burn if I jump on a shark when I’m wearing shorts,” said Dr. Dan Abel, professor of Marine Science at Coastal Carolina University. He was telling TGS students about how sharks, unlike most bony fish, have rough skin instead of scales. Dr. Abel’s passion is researching sharks–he has traveled around the world studying these mysterious creatures. He told us that sharks are endangered by fishing nets, pollution, habitat destruction, and people’s fondness of shark fin soup (50-70 million sharks are used in this dish each year).
The summer of 2015 has been called “The Summer of the Shark” because of the increased number of shark bites on the East Coast. Dr. Abel told us he spent the entire month of July doing interviews for CNN, CBS, the Weather Channel, etc. He resisted sensationalizing the bites, and repeated to each news agency that the actual likelihood of a shark attack is still very slim.
We asked Dr. Abel what would happen if sharks became extinct. He explained that with sharks out of the picture, large fish will become the top predators and will increase in numbers. These larger fish will eat too many small fish, leaving not enough small fish to clean the coral reefs. At this point, algae will overwhelm the coral reef.
Dr. Abel encouraged us to protect the planet and its creatures by recycling, using less, and creating clean sources of energy. “We are approaching the tipping point for having an uninhabitable planet,” he wrote in his PowerPoint. Thank you, Dr. Abel, for encouraging us to be good stewards of the earth’s resources and for helping us understand sharks better.
August 26, 2015: Bill Williams and Tim Thompson (WISAT)
Bill Williams and Tim Thompson spoke to us at our first Open Forum of the year about their work in “forensic consulting.” They use their skills in engineering and computer modeling to investigate court cases involving people who have been injured or even killed by defective technology.
At their testing facility in Georgetown, Bill and Tim recently took on Takata, a maker of car airbags. According to them, about one hundred drivers have been injured and eight killed by these airbags going off too aggressively. The explosion can shoot out metal parts of the airbag that are in effect like shrapnel. “It’s like a hand grenade going off in the car,” said Bill. Bill and Tim proved that moisture in the airbags caused the problem and the case in court forced a huge recall of Takata products (34 million cars!).
Bill and Tim test also recreate different accident scenarios at their lab. For example, they worked on the “Park to Reverse” problem found in Ford Mustangs where the gear shift would not stay in Park, leaving the car moving after the driver got out. They proved that this issue was caused by excessive friction in the shifter coming from the plastic slider. Tim developed a soft “boot” to replace the slider and solve the problem.
Both of these guys are highly knowledgeable and experienced at thinking logically and creatively. Bill created the company WISAT in 1996; Tim joined him after earning a degree in aerospace engineering from Ohio State. Nowadays they both have a really cool and successful business and we are going to visit their facility soon!
May 13, 2015: Sara Cyr and Sarah Exum
Our two seniors of 2015 gave their senior speeches at Open Forum to an audience composed of students, faculty and parents. Sara Cyr spoke on the need for the U.S. military to protect American satellites in space while Sarah Exum addressed the negative impact of people’s addiction to technology and social media. Both students fielded questions from Dr. Gates and the audience with grace and poise. Faculty evaluated the speeches and one senior will receive the Senior Speech Award at our Awards Ceremony (May 29 at 10:30 in the Es’Dorn Room). This winner will be invited to give the first Open Forum of the 2015-2016 school year. Congratulations on a job well done, seniors!
May 13, 2015: Patti Burns
Ms. Patti Burns, Head of Adult Services at the Georgetown County Library, spoke to us at our final Open Forum of 2014-2015 on a passion she has had since growing up in Conway: cemeteries. “I learned math and handwriting from looking at graves as a little girl,” she told us, “I have always been fascinated by history.” Patti went on to major in politics at CCU, then did her master’s in library science at USC, but she never gave up the idea of working with graveyards.
Now she has taken on a large-scale project and she wants the help of TGS students with it this summer and beyond—she wants to create a digital catalog of all the graves in Georgetown County, starting with Prince George Cemetery. She will introduce students to some of the techniques used to find unmarked graves this coming Thursday, May 21, when the whole school will visit the preschool playground at Prince George to see if there is anyone buried there. Technicians William Martin and Mary Katherine Heimer of Horry County will be bringing their Ground-Penetrating Radar for a demonstration and Patti fully expects to find evidence that there are graves in the playground area.
Patti explained to us that the block next to our school used to be the Potter’s Field of Georgetown, used to bury indigents, people who did not have a church and unidentified bodies, such as that of a man who jumped from a train and didn’t make it and a corpse that was fished from the Sampit River. She has used historical documents such as death certificates and newspaper articles to establish that at least 100 people are buried in Potter’s Field.
“Graveyards are really an outside museum in stone,” Patti concluded. We look forward to our trip to Prince George Cemetery next week and to being of assistance to Patti this summer as she surveys its graves this summer. All Kingfishers are invited to help her, but especially rising 8th graders who will be studying S.C. History next year.
April 22, 2015: Julie Warren
Julie Warren, Digital Librarian for the Georgetown County Library, was our Open Forum speaker today. Julie got her BA in history from Lee University (TN) and earned her masters in museum studies from Newcastle University (England). She then worked as a intern at Monticello and in Colonial Williamsburg. Besides being a docent, one of her duties at Monticello was dusting. She told us, “To handle the same objects that Thomas Jefferson handled was a powerful experience!” Since 2007 she has worked at our library creating and managing a vast digital archive of Georgetown County history.
There are some 40,000 items at www.gcdigital.org, including 19th and 20th century photographs, newspapers, postcards, real-estate transactions, and sketchbooks. When we visited this website, we found a scan of a 1735 release of indenture granted to a certain William Brockington! Website visitors can also watch oral histories on the site: video interviews of older people recalling their experiences in the Great Depression and World War II, for example. Julie encouraged us to talk to the elderly people in our lives to discover their stories before they are gone. “History doesn’t have to be scary or boring,” Julie assured us, “Enjoy it!”
April 15, 2015: Suzanne Abed-El-Latif
Today’s Open Forum speaker, Suzanne Abed-El-Latif, is not only in charge of Human Resources for the City of Georgetown, but is also a former student of several of our teachers here at TGS. “I ‘m not sure if I preferred Dr. Gates as my soccer coach or my calculus teacher!” she joked. After high school, Suzanne went on to get a BA in psychology and a minor in business administration from USC. She then worked at Mercom for four years before becoming the Human Resources manager for the City of Georgetown almost one year ago.
Suzanne talked today about what a Human Resources manager actually does (recruiting, payroll, benefits, risk management, training and much more). She defined Human Resources as “the psychology of the business world”–in other words, keeping her 175 City employees happy and healthy so they can be the most productive. Suzanne stressed that people in her position must have integrity and be completely fair because they must enforce policy and mediate when there are problems with workers. Despite the heavy load of paperwork, she is very enthusiastic about her job and encouraged students to consider a career in public service: “The best part about my position is getting to know all of the city workers on a personal level. I know all of their names,” she concluded. We are lucky to have such a dedicated and competent Human Resources person in Georgetown!
April 1, 2015: Dr. Jennifer Adair
The Shakespeare Festival continued with today’s Open Forum speaker, Dr. Jennifer Adair of The Citadel. She talked to us about the theatrical and social background of “Much Ado About Nothing.” She shared with us that the theater in Shakespeare’s day was popular culture, more like going to a movie than an highbrow cultural experience.
Dr. Adair pointed out that “Much Ado About Nothing” contains elements of both comedy and tragedy. It does end in a double wedding, but there is a “death,” and crime is not punished nor is virtue really rewarded. She questioned whether the two marriages that end the play could truly be called happy. In fact, Dr. Adair did not agree with Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 film version of the play, saying that it pushes the happy ending too hard. We are all waiting to see how the American Shakespeare Center will interpret Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” tomorrow night in the Winyah Auditorium!
March 25, 2015: Dr. Catherine Thomas
Our inaugural Shakespeare Festival kicked off today with Dr. Catherine Thomas, a Renaissance Scholar from the College of Charleston. She spoke with us about Shakespeare adaptations and what they mean in terms of our relationship to original Shakespeare works. She did a great job connecting with our younger audience, using four examples from pop culture: Love Story, a song by Taylor Swift, Letters to Juliet, a romantic comedy, Gnomeo and Juliet, an animated feature , and Kill Shakespeare, a graphic novel. Dr. Thomas raised the interesting question of whether or not adaptations of Shakespeare were criticizing or praising him, and concluded that overall imitation is the highest form of praise.
March 11, 2015: Captain Parker Lumpkin
Today was a special day for Open Forum–we had two distinguished speakers instead of just one. Our first speaker was Captain Parker Lumpkin, who retired from the U.S. Navy after 26 years of service and is now working as a marine biologist in the area of climate change for Fathom 4. He shared some interesting graphics illustrating global temperature rise and other weather data from the last fifty years. One set of slides showed how “old ice” in the Arctic is melting but being replaced by “new ice.””The earth is definitely warming but whether this is caused by greenhouse gases is still unknown,” he explained to students. Capt. Lumpkin urged us to keep politics out of science by focusing on the scientific data alone for knowledge about climate change.
March 11, 2015: Tom Keegan
Our second Open Forum speaker today was the Honorable Tom Keegan, former South Carolina representative to the House of Representatives and current field representative for current representative Tom Rice. He gave a compelling speech about the “Secrets of Success.” Mr. Keegan had a long and successful background before his political career: he joined the Marine Corps at age 16, and later entered into his home town’s police force. During his time in the police force he rose from a traffic controller all the way up to the captain of the detective division. After deciding to move down to South Carolina, Mr. Keegan chose the path of politics, becoming the South Carolina Rep. Once he told us a little about his personal background, Mr. Keegan gave us his six “Secrets of Success,” starting by saying “you can do things that you think you can’t do.” Five of the “secrets”, Mr. Keegan told us, he got from Lieutenant Colonel: commitment, personal pride, faith, discipline, and goals. He added one himself, explaining that it was also very helpful to have a sense of humor going through life.
(by Top Lee)
March 4, 2015: Bruce Gates
Today’s Open Forum Speaker was a very special guest: Bruce Gates, Dr. Gates’ brother. Mr. Gates came to talk to the students about his main passion in life: politics. He works as the Executive Vice President for Altria not far from his home in Alexandria, Virginia; we were very fortunate that he was in town. Mr. Gates’ interest in politics began when he volunteered to help with a campaign as a high schooler, and has since continued in the form of lobbying and staffing a senator. He encouraged all of the students, whether or not they were interested in politics specifically, to find ways of experiencing what they are interested in.
February 11, 2015: Alma White
Today’s Open Forum took us off campus down to the Courthouse, where we met Ms. Alma White, our Clerk of Court. She took us upstairs to one of the six courtrooms, sitting us down and telling us about the judicial system, both on the national and local levels. Alma White is the clerk of court for the entire circuit system in Georgetown and Horry Counties. Explaining her job, she said “I may say I during my talk, but I really do rely on my staff to organize the circuit system.” After giving us an overview of the circuit judge system and the local court system, she brought in the active judge, The Honorable Steve John, judge of the 15th circuit of South Carolina, who spoke to us about the circuit judge system and jury duty. Judge John answered a couple of questions, then he headed back to the courtroom and we headed back to the school to start the day.
(by Top Lee)
January 28, 2015: Steve Kotwa
Steve Kotwa is a master of taekwondo and many other types of martial arts. He has a studio in Georgetown where several members of our TGS community have studied in the past or are studying now. Besides martial arts, Master Kotwa also teaches self-defense, capoeira and tai chi. After explaining his work to the students, Master Kotwa got all of cthem up out their seats in the Auditorium for quick Kapoeira lesson. Luckily, there was plenty of room for people to throw punches and land kicks in front of the stage. It was a great short work-out and we headed to class wide-awake and ready to learn!
January 14, 2015: Ani Jayakaran
Ani Jayakaran, a researcher at Clemson’s Baruch Institute, came to the school today to talk to the students about the importance of water. He was born in a small town in South India, and moved to East Africa when he was four, later moving on to West Africa when he was eight. Mr Jayakaran was introduced to water research when he helped his father look for groundwater in towns that didn’t have a good source of fresh water. The areas he has lived in really exposed him to the problems that a lack of water, or bad water, can cause. Today he works as a researcher at Hobcaw, trying to figure out how to solve the many problems that come with humans messing with the balance of nature, including: man-made water trenches causing erosion problems, concrete interfering with the water table, and the reintroduction of water sheds.
January 12, 2015: Bill Oberst
Bill Oberst, actor extraordinaire, spoke about his career at a special Open Forum on Monday, January 12th. Oberst started out doing theater, acting, and stage work in high school, later moving to roles in TV shows and movies. Oberst is originally from Georgetown, and even went to school in our building, graduating with our very own Madame Gates. He discovered at a young age he was very good at impressions and entertaining his fellow classmates. “You make them laugh, you don’t get hit,” he chuckled. Oberst has appeared in over 100 movies and shows in the last five years, including Criminal Minds, Sherman’s March, The Shunning, and The Retrieval. His favorite characters to play are the deformed, wounded, outcast ones. He enjoys exploring the depths of such characters, using his art to reveal how a typical “villain” can be cast in a different, more nuanced light. Oberst advised the students, “Choose a career that you love, because then you’re never really going to work.”
December 10, 2014: Dr. Ai Ning Loh
Organic geochemist Dr. Ai Ning Loh is an associate professor of chemistry at U.N.C.-Wilmington. After attending U.S.C., she got her master’s and doctorate degrees in Marine Biology from the College of William and Mary. “I always wanted to be a scientist,” she told students and explained how a high school internship with an inspiring mentor in Malaysia turned her towards her eventual career.
Dr. Loh’s research centers on investigating carbon dioxide in the ocean, including its effect on the climate. Besides teaching 200 or more students per semester, she divides her time between work in the field and the lab. In her opinion, the skills of a good oceanographer / marine biologist include: math, writing, critical thinking, creativity, getting along with people and a sense of adventure. She seeks to instill these in her students at U.N.C. Dr. Loh’s enthusiasm for her career made this a fun Open Forum–she even volunteered to stay and work with the Environmental Science students and help out with Science Fair afterwards! Thank you, Dr. Loh!
November 19, 2014: Adrian Sims Truluck
“My professor told me the difference between an interior designer and a decorator is that a decorator paints a wall red because she thinks it’s pretty but an interior designer paints it red because she put that wall there,” said Adrian Truluck, co-founder of Parker-Sims Interiors. Adrian graduated from Converse College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design and a minor in Art History. Her work has been featured in numerous publications and has received several honors.
Adrian was very positive about her education at Converse College where she studied art history, design, technology (computer-aided design), commercial design, lighting, and color theory. She felt comfortable in the small, all-girl classes. As part of her major, she spent many sleepless nights building 3-D models before exams.
Today, Adrian primarily does residential design but also commercial and event design. Her favorite project was for a client who didn’t set a budget. She showed us beautiful images of her work and her events, including “Posh Peacock,” a wedding in Lake City. When asked how long it takes her to plan a wedding, she told us, “It all depends, but the shorter the better, because brides tends to get anxious.”
Adrian advised TGS students to take advantage of internship opportunities in their field of interest as soon as possible, because nothing replaces hands-on experience. “I wish I done an internship in high school,” she concluded. TGS juniors and seniors, this is something you should be thinking about!
November 12, 2014: Don Corinna
In honor of Veterans’ Day, U.S. Marine (retired) Don Corinna spoke to us about his experiences in the military in the earliest days of the Vietnam War. He described the Marines as “the tip of the spear in all military actions.” With his mother’s permission (but not his father’s!), Don enlisted with his friends at age 17, serving as a radio operator in an artillery unit 2-3 miles from the front. After five years of service, he left the military, got his degree from Queen’s College (CUNY) and spent the next 45 years constructing airports all over the world.
Today, Don is the Georgetown County coordinator for Toys for Tots, an outreach of the Marine Reserves that brings hope to underprivileged children by providing them with Christmas toys. “The best part is when you see their faces,” he told us. Toys for Tots partners with the Salvation Army to give needy families food and clothing as well. We now have a box to fill for Toys for Tots at the bottom of the stairway–please consider bringing in a new, unwrapped toy for a special kid by December 1. Thank you, Don, for your continuing service to our community and our nation.
November 5, 2014: Jonathan Green
“You have to be able to draw before you can paint,” nationally-known artist Jonathan Green told an audience of students and parents, “You have to put in the work. I am in my studio 12-15 hours a day.” Jonathan’s talk tied together his own personal history and education, his appreciation for the Low Country of South Carolina–particularly its rice culture–and the importance of family and local tradition.
Jonathan’s art interprets the culture of our area, which he knows firsthand. He was born in rural South Carolina near Beaufort and raised by his parents and grand-parents, who taught him who he is: “Grand-parents were the most important—they had the most knowledge. So many youth today don’t understand where they come from. You need to know the contributions of your ancestors in order to know what to talk about and what to do.”
“Being able to draw is magical,” Jonathan also told students as he evoked the Lascaux cave paintings and the shamans who created them in order to preserve and pass on the culture’s ceremonial practices. He emphasized that every aspect of our lives is continuously influenced by the arts: “For years, the art of churches taught people more about the Bible than reading. Drawing is part of our DNA.”
Jonathan sees the celebration of rice as a way to set aside the differences and conflicts of our area’s past, “Rice is a wonderful opportunity for us to talk about so much more than slavery, oppression, the Confederacy. We are living in what used to be the richest, most cultured area of the United States.” Jonathan pointed out that all this culture was based on rice and that today, rice can provide common ground for educational, culinary, artistic, economic and historical discussion.
This is why Jonathan is working on bringing his Rice Symposium to Georgetown next year. The Georgetown School is partnering with several local entities including the Rice Museum and the Georgetown Library to help him produce the event. Students can look forward to working more closely with this artist and helping him with his vision.
October 29, 2014: Judy Sweitzer
We knew Mrs. Sweitzer was amazing, but we didn’t know just how amazing until she told us about her missionary trip to a remote village called Zapote in Guatemala! For the past eight years, she has been making this annual trip with a team of dentists and doctors who help the Zapote villagers with their medical and dental needs. The mission is sponsored by Pawleys Island Commun-ity Church. Mrs. Sweitzer had a career as a dental and physician’s assistant, which made her a perfect choice for the team.
Life in rural areas of Guatemala is very different from ours. Mrs. Sweitzer told us the men of Zapote harvest sugar cane, pineapple, and coffee beans; the women gather sticks all day long to make the fire for the family’s one meal: rice and beans. Eight years ago, Mrs. Sweitzer found the children of Zapote malnourished and unschooled. Since then her church, Pawley’s Island Community, has founded a first- to eighth-grade school that offers breakfast and lunch. She is very proud of the improvement.
A typical day for the mission team involved rising at 5:00 to be on the road by 7:00 and in Zapote by 9:00. Once in the village, they would set up stations and start seeing patients, none of whom minded waiting all day long. Mrs. Sweitzer gave fluoride treatments and “sterilized” dental instruments using buckets of water and bleach. She also helped the dentists who can pull up to a thousand teeth per trip.
Not every day and nor every trip would go as planned. Mrs. Sweitzer told us about several challenges to their work. Guatemalan officials impede the team each year at the airport with different “regulations.” One year, a bandito showed up i the village to have a bullet removed! (He ended up turning his life around, partly because of the love and care of the mission team). This year, the team worked during the rainy season and one day their jeep stalled in a rushing river. Miraculously, the vehicle finally cranked even though water was flowing over the four passengers’ legs.
Mr. and Mrs. Sweitzer stay connected all year long to Zapote by sponsoring the education of two boys: Jose and Santiago. “Those boys know exactly who I am–they run over and hug me as soon as I get there!” Mrs. Sweitzer said lovingly. She encouraged all of us to do a mission trip, even though it means getting way out of our comfort zone. “In the end, we receive the greater blessing,” she said, “We come back more fulfilled, happier and better people.”
October 15, 2014: General Jack Welde
“Are there any other fighter pilots here today?” joked General Jack Welde, our guest at Open Forum. General Welde, recipient of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross, is a 31- year veteran of the United States Air Force, now retired in Pawleys Island. “I’ve beaten the odds with all of the flying I’ve been able to do,” he said.
General Welde was educated in Catholic schools. He specialized in mechanical engineering with a ROTC scholarship. He married a young lady who had never been out of Ohio. They moved 17 times as their 4 children were born and grew up, everywhere from England to Washington D.C. to Myrtle Beach (Iceland was the family favorite).
General Welde showed us photos of all the different fighter planes he flew, including F-100s, F-15 Eagles, A-10s, and F-16s. Most pilots today get to only fly one type of plane. He also responded to questions about the role of the Air Force today. “We are sending people to Syria who drop things that go boom,” General Welde said, “The Air Force does not win a war by itself–it takes a coalition of forces.”
General Welde told us one of the best ways to pay for college is the ROTC, as long as students are interested in military service. The Georgetown School is very honored by General Welde’s visit. We want to thank him for his service and wish him a happy retirement.
October 8, 2014: Amy Armstrong
Thanks to South Carolina Environmental Law Project, we don’t have an oil refinery off our beautiful coastline. SCELP was founded by Jimmy Chandler 27 years ago to protect the natural environment by providing legal services and by improving environmental regulations. Our speaker Amy Armstrong has worked for SCELP for 12 years. “What we are are a bunch of lawyers who try and find laws to protect the environment,” she told us.
SCELP handles about 25 cases at a time. One of the more recent ones involved the Angel Oak on John’s Island. The density of a nearby proposed housing development would have threatened the tree. After a court battle, the developers compromised and the tree was saved. Another case dealt with Captain Sam’s Inlet, a 150-acre spit of undeveloped sand on Kiawah Island. A developer wanted to construct houses there, to be protected by a wall and a beach covered with rocks. However, the wall and rocks would have destroyed dolphin strand feeding and turtle nesting areas. SCELP has been fighting this case for six years. A third case involves a radioactive waste landfill in Barnwell, SC. When it rains, waste is washed out of its concrete vaults into groundwater that runs into the Savannah River. This case is about to be settled favorably in a court of appeals.
Amy responded to questions from the audience about the illegal sea wall at Wild Dunes. SCELP is fully expecting DHEC to enforce the law: “You can design your development to fit the landscape or you can alter the landscape to fit your development,” she told students, “Development pressures are greater on the coast but people can develop more responsibly.”
October 1, 2014: Dr. Dan Hitchcock
“Being a nerd is cool,” said Dr. Dan Hitchcock, Clemson professor of Environmental Science who works at the Baruch Institute in Hobcaw. “It’s great to be a professional researcher in a t-shirt and flip-flops!” He talked to us about his work: studying how water flows through forests, marshes and cities after rainfall.
Dan is a self-described “ecological engineer.” His work and research are about using “green infrastructure” to mitigate the damaging effects of storm water. Storm water, besides causing erosion, eventually ends up in our estuaries and rivers and can contain harmful substances such as chemicals or nutrients. Dan was full of ideas to slow down and redirect this “excess” water. Rain barrels, rain gardens, rooftop plantings and pervious pavement are some examples of ways to help solve the problems of storm water pollution.
Much of Dan’s time is spent in the forests and swamps of Hobcaw, measuring water flow and quality. Although he doesn’t lecture much in the classroom, he does spend lots of time with students. “Working with students is the best part of my job–they bring a whole new energy,” he told us. Dan invited us to take a walk in the swamps with him and to visit his laboratory in the near future.
September 24, 2014: Emily Crosby
“If you like something, try the opposite,” said Emily Crosby, “Get out of your comfort zone.” Emily, 2014 graduate from Duke in biology (with minors in chemistry and music) was talking to students about college. Emily recommended applying to a lot of schools (even if they seem out of reach) and planning out your college experience so you can maximize it with scholarships, study abroad, and original research. “It really is possible to more than you think you can,” she said, “You’ll learn so much more by trying things you’ve never done before.”
Emily’s career at Duke had many interesting side paths. For example, she studied poison-dart frogs in Costa Rica, read British Literature in London, took a class in Motown music and investigated the effects of nicotine on the brain. After all these wonderful activities, Emily is taking a year off to work for her dad’s doctor’s office and do some traveling and teaching. She will enter medical school at MUSC in 2015. Good luck, Emily!
September 17, 2014: Jeremy Vause
“I was that zombie” said Jeremy Vause, speaking to students about his career as a TV actor for the popular series The Walking Dead. (For those of you who watch The Walking Dead, Jeremy was Beth’s first zombie kill!) Jeremy also works in several areas of the performing arts: acting, teaching voice and piano, recording original songs and directing church music.
Although Jeremy enjoys playing the role of a zombie, most of his time is spent teaching his 30 private music students and directing the praise band at Prince George Winyah. He discussed what it means to make a living as a performing artist. Practicing is one of the most important parts of Jeremy’s job. He also must do his own bookkeeping and promote himself. “You are your business, and to make it in the performing arts you have to wear many hats,” he told students.
Jeremy’s advice to students who want to act on TV was simple: “You are going to be auditioning a lot more than you perform, so learn to accept rejection.” He told us: “Always do your best work. You never know who’s watching.” For example, Jeremy was upgraded from plain zombie to feature zombie by a director who noticed his dedication. “Jeremiah Scott” is Jeremy’s recording name. He has performed two original songs, available on iTunes (“Dance Floor Daydream” and “In the Mirror”). Watch for Jeremy this season and hopefully in many new TV series in the years to come.
September 10, 2014: Brenda DeLuca
St. Frances Animal Shelter of Georgetown is a non-profit organization with a great record for helping dogs and cats find a home. Brenda DeLuca, their community outreach person, brought two furry friends, Oscar and Daisy, to meet the students. “These dogs represent what we get in the shelter: mixed breed, older, picked up by Animal Control, previously owned,” Brenda told us. (Oscar and Daisy were a big hit with the students, wagging their tails and being friendly. )
Brenda shared a lot of information about dogs and cats in general and the St. Frances Animal Shelter. “Any dog will bite under the right circumstances,” she said, noting that Dachsunds, Chihuahuas and Jack Russells bite the most. Pit bulls, who get a “bad rap” according to Brenda, were originally bred as farm dogs. Statistically, more dogs “run away” from home on July 4 than any other day because they are afraid of the fireworks. A female cat can reproduce at the age of 6 months, up to four litters a year. St. Frances employs 23 people (including 3 vets) to take care of the 250-300 animals it shelters at a time. Brenda is very proud of the shelter’s success rate–in 2013 they were able to place or rescue more than 1500 animals.
The shelter loves (and needs) volunteers–anyone is welcome, Brenda told us. The volunteers clean floors and cages, socialize with the animals, and take the dogs on walks. Brenda also invited us to a 24-hour pet adoption event at Pet Smart in October. Thank you Brenda, Oscar and Daisy for a great visit!
September 3, 2014: Dr. Reinhardt Schindler
The Georgetown School welcomed retired eye surgeon Reinhardt Schindler to speak about his education and work. “I speak Germish,” he said with his accent, drawing an immediate laugh from the audience. Reinhardt was born in Germany, moved to Switzerland for the “cheese and chocolate” (another joke!), then came to the U.S.A. on a student visa. As a medical student in Richmond, he decided to specialize in ophthalmology (that’s Augenheilkunde in German, by the way.) Students were curious about the tools of his trade. Reinhardt explained that he operated with both hands using tiny instruments measuring .8mm or less. He used a microscope to magnify the eye, adjusting his view with foot pedals.
When asked about his career path, Reinhardt responded, “Have you ever thought that you just had it in you? Have you ever felt challenged to do something?” That is how he felt as a young student. When asked about the current situation of health care in America, he agreed with TGS students that doctors should show kindness and compassion. “What I enjoyed most was people,” he concluded.
August 27, 2014: Eddie Fava
“I was really good at math and I didn’t want to do anything else,” said architect Eddie Fava when asked how he chose his career. Eddie had just shared an absolutely beautiful slide show of several of the major restoration and renovation projects he has undertaken with the firm he founded in 1993, e. e. fava, architects. Much of his work is for wealthy clients in downtown Charleston who want to “open up” old structures (students were intrigued by a family that wanted a separate little house for each of their three children!). He talked to us about several of his projects, including the Ivory Tower, a prime example of his style featuring glass interior walls, an open atmosphere and a gorgeous setting.
Eddie’s attitude toward trying new things was very inspiring. He told us he never says no to a client about doing something he’s never done before, such as creating a fountain or installing a two-story all-glass wall. He enjoys the challenge of creating beautiful spaces and harmonizing old and new.
August 20, 2014: Chris Elliott
The first Wednesday of the 2014-2015 school year, we started a new tradition: we invited the winner of the Senior Speech Award to give the opening talk. Chris Elliott got up at 4:15 a.m. to drive down from Columbia, where he is just beginning his freshman year at U. S. C. “Yeah, I’m wired! But I love this place and I’m mildly addicted to it,” Chris admitted as he began to talk to the kids and parents about what it means to be a Kingfisher. He urged them to take advantage of all the opportunities, since in a small community everyone is welcome to do everything. He talked about the TGS teachers, saying that classes for him became more like “conversations” and extra help was always available. Finally, he urged the kids to dream up their own projects: “These people will be your family. If you want to do something, just ask.” We thank Chris for his message of encouragement and wish him all the best this fall at U. S. C. He left us with some great parting words: “Here we’re not nerds and jocks. We’re everything. We’re Kingfishers!”
May 21, 2014: Senior Speeches
The last Wednesday of the year began with senior speeches by Chandler Lee and Chris Elliott. Giving a senior speech is a requirement for graduation at TGS–students must demonstrate that they can research a controversial topic, form an opinion and defend their position eloquently and reasonably. Today’s speakers did a great job.
Chandler talked about the new electronic cigarettes and how they have started the same way cigarettes did, with no comprehensive list of substances that are used in them. It is anyone’s guess whether all the substances are safe to use. Chandler estimates that just like cigarettes, E-cigarettes will cause health problems that will only be discovered in the future. He concluded that they should be regulated now.
Chris Elliott brought up the fact that, because of Common Core Standards, many schools in the U.S. have fewer and less well-funded classes in music, art, and foreign language. Science and math classes have taken priority, both in funding and in scheduling. Chris mentioned that humanities and arts requirement have become very shallow. For example in English, a student need only be able to comprehend his or her own language and read up on at least 10 authors, preferably the famous ones. Chris’ opinion was that the arts are vital to a well-rounded education and should be funded and scheduled at the same level as the science and math curriculum.
There were several questions at the end, including a few from Dr. Gates at the end. Fortunately, both seniors survived and are now one step closer to being able to graduate from TGS! Good job, Chandler and Chris!
April 30, 2014: Jon Hoffman
Jon Hoffman has been working in Georgetown County for the past year in the Americorps VISTA program. “My longer-range plan is to attend law school,” he said, “but I wasn’t ready to go straight in after graduation.” Jon decided to gain valuable work experience and help out a community in need by joining Americorps as a “federal volunteer.” He is assigned to the United Way of Georgetown County with the specific task of connecting the service needs of various charities with willing volunteers. Jon is a coding expert and he shared with us virtual online volunteer management system he created to accomplish this task. TGS students checked out GET CONNECTED (www.gcuw.org) and saw how easy it is to stay informed about volunteer opportunities. Jon’s program is especially important and useful, since every high-schooler has to do at least 30 hours of community service a year.
Jon, like many of the other Open Forum speakers, stressed the importance of good communication skills. He also said that students who know some coding (like those in our Kingfisher Coding Class) could get as many service hours as they wanted by volunteering to help with the agencies’ websites. Jon will be off soon to the University of Minnesota Law School–we wish him all the best!
April 16, 2014: Dr. Kristin Bohan
Dr. Kristin Bohan, founder of the Coastal Montessori Charter School in Pawleys Island, spoke to us this week about her career in psychology. Kristin told us that she realized in eighth grade that psychology would be her field because, as she said, “I was the one that everyone told their problems to.” She explained the difference between pop psychology and psychology as a science, noting that the science of psychology can reveal a reality that goes against what our “common sense” might tell us.
For example, in graduate school Kristin designed and performed an experiment about “messenger bias.” She spoke to groups of adolescent girls on bulimia, posing first as an expert in the disease, secondly as a woman who had overcome the disease. The information about bulimia was received differently depending on what the audience believed about her. The second message delivery had the unintended and negative effect of glamorizing bulimia.
Kristin practiced psychology for fourteen years. She made an analogy between helping patients and walking side-by-side with someone through the woods. “The therapist knows what the journey is like and that the patient will be able to get through the woods. The patient has never made the journey and must trust the therapist,” she said. Kristin eventually decided to devote herself to education and to take on the project of starting the CMCS. She encouraged us to follow our passions even if they change throughout our lives.
April 9, 2014: John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina
John Boehner and Tim Scott welcomed TGS students to the Capitol during their trip to Washington, D.C. this week. We met the speaker on his balcony, which is usually a restricted area. “The view was great!” said Savanna. The speaker talked about how he got into politics after growing up in a large family.
We met Tim Scott on the steps of the Capitol. When the wind wasn’t blowing, the weather was nice and we sat in the sun and listened as he talked to us about his ideal educational reforms. Afterwards, he took pictures with us (including a selfie that got into USA Today!) before he was called away to a vote in the Senate.
April 2, 2014: Dr. William J. Walker
Our Open Forum speaker today was Dr. William J. Walker, executive director of the Georgetown County Alcohol and Drug Commission. He explained what a job in administration means–helping other people get their jobs done: “You have to be a people person,” he told us, “And you have to know all about everyone else’s job in the office. For example, I am not a counselor or a finance person but as an administrator, I have to know about these areas.” The mission of the Alcohol and Drug Commission is to reduce the negative consequences of substance abuse. It accomplishes this through preventative education (in the schools) and re-education and counselling of people with drug or alcohol problems. In Dr. Walker’s opinion, alcohol and prescription drugs are the greatest substance abuse issues in Georgetown County schools. Dr. Walker ended on a personal note, sharing that he grew up without a dad and was the first person to graduate college from his “dysfunctional” family. He told us about some of the specific dynamics he has had to overcome and encouraged us not to let our own family situations hold us back. Dr. Walker is also a pastor and a cultural diversity trainer who plans to continue these activities when he retires next month. We wish him a happy retirement from a great career of service.
March 25: Debby Summey
Debby Summey, native of Georgetown and graduate of Winyah High School, is the owner of Strollin’ on the Sampit, a walking tour business that takes tourists on a historical adventure through Georgetown. Debby told us that when she was in school, she never knew exactly what specific job she wanted to do, but she knew that she loved to write, travel, study history and help people. Debby has had many different jobs, but all of them involved these four passions. After being a social worker,where she was traveling around the county and writing reports, she decided to sell everything she owned and use the money to travel to Europe. This trip gave her a whole new perspective on history. Debby eventually opened a vintage clothing store in Charleston and soaked up the history down there. After moving back to Georgetown, she got a singular honor: she was chosen as the first director of the Georgetown County Historical Society Museum. She got to go through all the artifacts that the Society had been saving for the opening of their museum and made an amazing discovery: a letter hand-written and signed by Francis Marion! This letter is now one of the greatest treasures at the Museum. Debby stressed to us that if you wanted to do something, and it’s worth the risk, then you should do it. She is still doing what she loves most, fulfilling her love of writing and history with her weekly column “Thanks for the Memories” in the Georgetown Times, helping people by serving on the board of an agency for abused children, and making sure the tourists visiting Georgetown have an informative and enjoyable historical adventure in our town through her walking tour.
March 12: Luke Gates
Our Open Forum speaker was Luke Gates, fourth-year student in Architecture at the University of Virginia. Luke talked to us about the process of starting to look for a job after college. He told us that going along the track and fulfilling class requirements at college is without a doubt necessary. However, in his opinion, the best way to develop one’s resume is to say yes to other opportunities that happen to open up. “If you show interest and motivation, people will help you along in your education. This will ultimately give you a richer experience and a much stronger resume.” he explained. For example, Luke had an offer to work in the wood-working shop at the Architecture School and learned how to use hand tools along with routers, 3-D printers and a robotic arm. Then, because he was interested, he was invited to work on a water filtration project and got to travel to Limpopo, South Africa. Although study abroad in Architecture School is discouraged, Luke managed to enroll in an architecture school in Lyon, France, this past fall. He was helped along by the same administrators who had originally objected, just because he was motivated and persistent in his interest.
March 5: Aisha Jones
Aisha Jones is an environmentalist who works for the Georgetown County Public Services Department. She is originally from Jamaica and told us about her education in the Jamaican school system, which is based on the British system. She studied up to 13 subjects a day, and had to decide her college major before leaving high school. Aisha told us she always knew she wanted to work in science. At university, she did an original research project on an invasive species of fish, Pterygoplichthys pardalis, which we know as the aquarium fish “pleco.” The pleco’s skin is very rough and it does not taste good so it has no natural enemies–its population has thus exploded in certain waters of Jamaica.
Aisha’s job, as an environmentalist, is to inspire people to engage in sustainable practices and to recycle as much as possible. “Jamaicans live closer to nature,” she told us, “They usually have gardens and raise chickens at home and they do not generate as much waste as Americans.” She went on to say that even though the Jamaican lifestyle makes less of an impact on the environment, Americans have stronger regulations and policies to protect the environment. Aisha is coming back to our school with an exhibit about recycling and some practical help for our own recycling efforts.
February 26: Donna Jones
Our Open Forum speaker today was Dr. Donna Jones. She is a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Donna grew up in Georgetown, a self-described “science nerd” who always had her dissection kit handy. “My dissection kit would probably be illegal today” she laughed. After majoring in Biology at Chapel Hill, Donna earned her medical degree (also at Chapel Hill) and decided to specialize in Public Health. She began working for the C. D. C. and now mainly trains other epidemiologists in Africa to track and interpret data. Donna explained to us the difference between a clinician, who deals with the individual’s medical problems, and an epidemiologist, who investigates outbreaks of disease in a population and determines the best policy to deal with them.
Dr. Michael St. Louis, Donna’s husband, is a science officer for global health at the C.D.C., who specializes in HIV/AIDS research in sub-Saharan Africa. He joined us today and added to the discussion. Michael shared with us how told us a story of getting an angry phone call from the U. S. Secretary of Agriculture. Michael’s research had proven that several deadly breakouts of salmonella around the U. S. were linked to bacteria inside the chicken eggs. The secretary told Michael he was hurting American agriculture. Michael was able to stand his ground because he had scientific evidence to support his claims.
Donna invited TGS students to apply for a summer program at the C.D.C. which sounded fascinating. Students will be trained to be “disease detectives,” (Medical Intelligence Officers) who investigate and interpret data. Get your applications in, kids, because this is a great opportunity.
February 21: Ashley DesMarteau
Ashley DesMarteau is a feature journalist for The Georgetown Times and one of the founders of the Winyah Bay Sailing Club. Sailing is a big part of her life–her family recently took a two-year sailing trip around the world. Ashley told us about the jobs she has held, including public relations stints in Charleston and California. She worked at Intel for eight years, and was impressed by how committed the company was to its communities. She has brought that same commitment back to the Georgetown/Pawleys Island community. “My grandmother taught in this building 55 years ago, so I sort of feel like we have come full circle,” she told us. When Ashley and her family decided to try to start a sailing club in Georgetown, people said to her, “No one sails around here.” Ashley was able to smile and not take no for an answer. She welcomed TGS to the Winyah Bay Sailing Club and expressed her excitement for the spring start-up of our sailing team.
February 19: Adam Baslow
Adam Baslow is a 33 year old builder who works in Charleston, S.C. He attended Furman University and now is a partner in a company called New Leaf. New Leaf specializes in residential construction with an environmentally friendly focus. The goal of Adam’s company is to create greener living conditions for families and communities by lowering power usage and lessening construction’s impact on the environment. Adam had some words of encouragement for students who are having trouble with science. After telling us he was a mediocre science student in high school, he said he now uses science every day in his work: “I was the type of student who learns best by doing and my job gives me plenty of opportunities.” For example, Adam has to deal with the pros and cons of construction using concrete–the sheer efficiency of concrete can cause problems. He also has to balance costs and benefits of different construction decisions. Using LED lights in a house, instead of normal fluorescent ones, can increase power efficiency but can add almost one thousand dollars to the overall price of the house.
January 22: Lauren Joseph
Lauren Joseph, a graduate of Furman University with a B.A. in Theater Arts, came to TGS today to talk to the students about her work and the ways that theater can help with other parts of life. She explained that many of the skills she learned at Furman have helped her with her past and current jobs, not just when she is directing or acting in a play. At the moment, she is the Tourism Marketing Director for the City of Georgetown, so she explained to the students that working in theater taught her to speak in front of people and to know their emotions from their body language. Lauren also enjoys the fact that theater has given her an unusual, but practical skill set, including sewing, electrical work, basic carpentry, and painting, just to name a few. She has many dreams for Georgetown, saying that she would love to have a summer theater repertory if the ongoing support could be found.
January 8: Phillip Lammonds
On January 8, Philip Lammonds talked to us about his career as a country music singer and songwriter who works mostly in Nashville, Tennessee. Phillip drew many parallels between regular writing and song writing–he called a song “a story in 3 minutes and 20 seconds.” For example, writers have to listen for inspiration and “hooks” whenever people use language in a new way. They must also immerse themselves in great works and pay close attention to structure. Phillip works closely with performing artists to produce about one hundred and thirty songs every year, and often receives calls to be a part of live performances. As a special treat for us, Phillip played two of his songs that have been picked up by well-known artists: “Looking For Someone” (Tim McGraw) and “So Not My Baby” (Josh Turner). He uses a 1943 guitar that he had remade from splinters in Nashville, Tennessee, and he plays it every single day. Phillip’s advice to young songwriters is to listen to the way people talk, play as much as possible and practice writing the type of music that is your passion.
December 4: Elise Crosby
Georgetown’s city attorney Elise Crosby addressed students at Open Forum, using her wide legal experience to teach us about all the different kinds of law. Besides providing expert advice to our mayor and City Council, Elise handles criminal defense and family law cases in her private practice. She discovered that she wanted to be a lawyer when she realized she had a love of and talent for logical thinking. Elise stressed the importance of communication skills and told students, “You can go almost anywhere with an English degree.”
November 13: Jim Lee
Jim Lee is a longtime agent with the Department of Natural Resource who loves to wander off the beaten track and who has an eye for the unique and unusual beauty of South Carolina. Two years ago, Jim decided to walk across South Carolina, from Georgetown to North Augusta, pushing his gear and tent in a re-purposed baby stroller. He used his camera to record the amazing sights he saw and shared them with us at Open Forum. We are excited that Jim has invited us to come along with him to places such as the Yawkey Center and Dirleton Plantation so we can be inspired by the gorgeous and singular environment of our own Georgetown County.
November 13: Dr. Gloria Bromell Tinubu
Gloria spoke to us of her conviction that she could do whatever she wanted to do, a conviction instilled in her by her upbringing in northern Georgetown County and underwritten by the excellent education she acquired at the old Choppee High School. She graduated from Howard University, then earned her master’s and doctorate in economics from Clemson, becoming the first African-American woman to gain this distinction. At a certain point in her career as an educator, Gloria turned to politics, becoming the first female mayoral candidate in Atlanta and eventually getting elected to the Georgia State Assembly. Gloria now teaches in the economics department of Coastal and pursues her dream of inspiring people to make the world a better place. Specifically, as an economist, she wants the community to return to Aristotle’s definition of economics, “managing the household for the long-term benefit of all the people.”
October 30: Dean Cain
Dean Cain, marine biologist for DNR, told us all about alligators, from their life cycle to how the experts catch them. Dean receives 800-900 calls a year from residents who believe they have a aggressive reptile on their hands. In most instances, however, the alligator is simply misunderstood. The increasing population of coastal S. C. leads to more encounters between humans and alligators, which makes understanding their behavior vital. “Feeding an alligator is marking it for death,” Dean told us, “When alligators become accustomed to being fed, they will approach people in search of food.”
October 23: Liz Kress
Liz Kress of the Renewable Energy Department of Santee Cooper credits her love of chemistry with her choice to become a metallurgical engineer. Her career has focused on new product development but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t use people skills. Liz explained to us that every new product must be sold twice: “First you convince the clients that they want it, then you convince the guys at the factory that they want put out the effort to manufacture it.” In Liz’s opinion, wind energy and energy from biomass are the best renewable energy sources for South Carolina.
October 9: Stacy Rabon
Successful television and film actor Stacy Rabon revealed the strenuous preparation that actors must impose on their minds and bodies in order to work in the industry. “You have to be ready with your role when you’re called-every minute on the set costs money,” she told us. Stacy also explained to us the differences between film acting and stage acting.
October 2: Hutch Hutchinson
Clemson biologist “Hutch” Hutchinson is also a strawberry farmer! This is just a hint of the winding path Hutch’s education has followed through the years, and he shared with us many of the questions which have piqued his curiosity and sparked his scientific research throughout his career. “Follow where your curiosity leads you” was his advice to young scientists.
September 25: Jason Lesley
Reporter Jason Lesley lives in Georgetown and works for the Coastal Observer. He was on the scene of the Front Street fire the very same morning he was scheduled to talk to us. Jason could not overemphasize to us how important and rare a news story such as the fire was and he encouraged us to take to the streets, interviewing and photographing the scene.
September 18: Tom Fox International opera star Tom Fox shared the joys and challenges of pursuing his career. According to Tom, opera is a total art form that demands hours of preparation and years of technical training. Tom now plays mostly Wagnerian roles in opera houses all over the world. Just back in town from doing Parsifal in London, Tom left the next weekend for Vienna to sing part of the Ring cycle.
August 28: Sudha Patel Architect and candidate for Andrews City Council
Sudha spoke to us about leaving a life of poverty in India with her family and finding success in high school, college, and graduate school in the U.S. Sudha took time off from her race for Andrews city council to come speak with us.
- Dr. “Hutch” Hutchinson (thegeorgetownschool.org)