Proud to Be a South Carolinian

By: Leah Prescott

I have lived in South Carolina my entire life. I have had a very blessed life, but I’m going to be completely honest with you: It has never occurred to me to be proud that I am a South Carolinian. I’ve been proud to be an American, proud to be Christian, proud to be a wife, a mom, a friend. This last week has fully changed my perspective.

SC Flood

SC Flood

This week, my heart is full and I am bursting with pride for my birth state. I suddenly feel I am living in the very best part of America. To those of you who haven’t followed the events, we have suffered historic rainfalls that have devastated our state. Roads have collapsed, dams burst, and buildings have crumbled. Beyond the initial rainfall, homes continue to flood a week later from the shifts of water as officials work to control the overage. Homes are being destroyed and there is no way to save them. Lives have been lost and families still search for loved ones that are missing as the waters recede. It’s been jaw-dropping to watch the devastation in an area completely unprepared for flooding of this magnitude. Knowing what my neighbors have been going through has broken my heart this week.

SC Flood

Now, to get to the joyful part. Get ready, because this is some good stuff.

I have seen unconditional love, boundless generosity, and Christ-like servant-hood like I have never seen before. I can’t even begin to tell all the stories that have been popping up across the Midlands and beyond of amazing rescues and sacrificial gifts. Victims were terrified and stranded. But help came, and it came with a force stronger than the rushing waters. Strangers helping strangers, rescuers laying down their lives, artisans and businesses pulling out all the stops to meet the needs of Columbia. From mega-donations by huge organizations to families cooking in their own kitchens for the first-responders, it seems like the entire city has contributed.

SC Flood Relief

Early in the crisis, I joined a Facebook group called “Midlands Flood Assistance” which quickly grew to well over two thousand members. As quickly as a need appears, there are dozens responding with ways to help. I’m blown away. I am so incredibly proud to be a South Carolinian today. I truly can’t imagine living anywhere else. We have a long way to go as we recover from this, but we will make it. Thank you to all who have helped; I’ll truly be thankful my entire life on behalf of my home town. What an amazing place to call home.

Food for SC Flood Relief

If you have been affected by the flooding in SC, please know my prayers are with you. And my prayers fly up with those of thousands and thousands of others. That’s a lot of prayer-power, people. God Bless South Carolina! If you would like to give to the relief efforts in the wake of this historic flood, you might look into Samaritan’s Purse or Harvest Hope Food Bank.

Home

By: Lara Winburn

Columbia was not supposed to be my home. I grew up in the Upstate, went to Clemson, married a fellow Tiger and don’t even look particularly good in garnet. But here I am 11 years later.

Our bridge

Our bridge

Over the weekend, the rains came down and the floods came up. The bridge closest to our house simply disappeared. Trees around us fell to the ground, the soil so wet that they just tipped over, roots and all. Friends who I hold dear and have collected here in this town suffered devastating loss. They swam away from their homes even though they were never really waterfront before. Friends I don’t know well (more the wave-to-at-Publix variety) have left their homes barely saved by boats. The stories of devastation are too much to bear sometimes, but there is another story too.

The aftermath

The aftermath

In the days since, all I have seen has been warm and loving neighborly assistance. We are new to our neighborhood (hence my absence from the blog), but Sunday night as we all feared evacuation and the creak of falling trees, we gathered in one kitchen. I watched as a full meal for a dozen neighbors suddenly, out of thin air, appeared. Straight loaves and fishes. Once it seemed the threat had passed for us, I gathered in my cow’s neighborhood, one of the worst hit in floodmaggeden.

There, I have witnessed men ripping their neighbors’ houses apart with their bare hands. My husband and his friends have emptied houses, all worldly possessions covered in something that can only be described as insulation/drywall mud (because the ceilings gave way and the insulation ended up on the floor). We have done loads of laundry in an effort to preserve everything from winter coats to smocked dresses that still had a chance against that sludge. We have spent hours delivering lunch, dinner, cold drinks, and the occasional beer to groups of helpers- their sole purpose to serve the need…whatever that need may be. Donations poured in. We mentioned we were making sandwiches or hot dogs or lasagna to serve to those whose stove was now sitting on the side of the road, and the deliveries rolled in. “I can bring salad, I can bring bread, I can watch all 11 kids,” were the words that rung out. As we walked these streets, armed with nothing more to offer than a cold drink or a sandwich, we were called “a blessing.” We encountered gracious families who had lost everything and were watching years’ worth of photographs dry on their lawn. With a smile and a thank you, those same people would point to other homes and ask, “Would you make sure they got some?” just as concerned for their neighbors as themselves.

The aftermath

A lasagna run

I tell you all of this to say, we were not alone. This was the norm. This is what the masses were doing to serve their neighbors and town – the people of Columbia and the people of South Carolina together.

I know this is not an unusual tale. We have all seen it on Facebook and even the nightly news. But this is not a story that gets old. Community should be celebrated again and again.

And with all of this, I know these are my people, my neighbors. This is my tribe. This is my town. And this is my home.

Why Drama Should Be Taught in Every School

By: Shannon Boatwright

Any time I hear of a school that does not have a drama department, my heart aches. Literally. In a lot of cases, school districts do not recognize the incredible benefits of the arts OR they simply do not have the funding to hire a drama teacher OR, to be honest, they don’t have enough sense to hire the “right” professional for the job. Being a drama teacher, arts integration teaching artist, performer, producer, director and huge drama-312318_1280supporter/lover of the arts, this is a hot button for me. Research has proven that the arts are a huge asset to ANY student, no matter what age. And drama, in particular, covers such a priceless span of subjects that any and every one can benefit from its riches. Meaning, the span of knowledge and experience that comes with the world of drama can truly improve any individual’s life, no matter what they want to be when they grow up or what profession they’re already engaged in.

I’ve done a lot of research on this; not to mention, every day that I teach, I see firsthand the benefits of drama being experienced and soaked up by my students. I’ll let the documents and quotes speak for themselves. Please take the time to read them, share them with your schools, your peers, and the leaders in your communities. Take note of the schools and organizations that do provide the arts on some level and see how those involved benefit from it. With the right teachers, instructors and leaders, all those involved with the arts will benefit, grow, and expand their minds and their hearts on some level! (Key word being the “right” teachers, instructors and leaders; those who are actually educated, trained and qualified to teach drama or any of the fine arts.)

This fabulous article on What Drama Education Can Teach Your Child touches on some fabulous points!

Some highlights include:

 

Gai Jones’, a theater educator with over forty years of experience, work has been recognized by the American Alliance for Theater and Education, the Educational Theater Association, and the California State Senate (among others).

According to Jones, Theater addresses the skills which benefit children’s education and development in five general areas: physical development/kinesthetic skills, artistic development /drama and theater skills, mental development/thinking skills, personal development/intra-personal skills, and social development/interpersonal skills.”

Academic gains aren’t the only benefits. There are the obvious ones: improved self-confidence, better public speaking skills, but Jones says students show other gains as well, such as the “ability to work with an ensemble in cooperative ventures” and the “ability to work through consensus and differences or obstacles to achieve a goal.” She points out that a play requires students to follow a time line, to use self-discipline, and to accept feedback. Studying theater can be a great starting point for careers such as teaching, law, and politics, not to mention broadcasting and performing. And the ability to speak confidently in front of a group is a boon for any career.

 

As a middle school drama teacher, I personally have had students start my class, come to me the first day and say, “Mrs. Shannon, I’m not comfortable getting in front of people, I’m shy and I don’t want to have to do anything in front of the class!” I always respond by telling the student not to worry, that I’ll never make them do something they don’t want to and that we’ll work together as we move forward. This relieves that intense stress they have and helps to lessen their fears. By the end of the first week or two, that same student is participating and doing things in front of the class. It never fails. Seriously. And I’ve had just about every kind of student, from a wide range of special needs students to the severely shy. Due to the way I set up and lead my classes, the students start to feel comfortable with each other, loosen up and then start having so much fun that they don’t realize how much they’re learning and that they’re conquering their fear of being in front of others. It’s a lovely thing to witness and be a part of. My number one goal with my classes is to help instill confidence in my students. And because I teach drama, I can do this.

The following link is a one-page list of the benefits of drama education. It says, “Research reveals the positive impact of drama on a student’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development.” http://www.dramaed.net/benefits.pdf

Why drama? Here’s another fabulous link to check out: http://www.drama.org.nz/nz-curriculum/why-drama/

An incredible document written by Sandra S. Ruppert and published by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies in collaboration with the Arts Education Partnership: “How the ARTS Benefit Student Achievement”. http://www.nasaa-arts.org/Publications/critical-evidence.pdf

The joy of the arts is that they can be integrated into every subject. In a perfect educational world, every school would have fine arts programs; and not just chorus, band and visual arts. We need to include drama into the curriculum. In fact, arts integration should be a part of every school’s curriculum. Students and teachers would only benefit; there are no negative aspects whatsoever, only the deepening of understanding. A perfect educational world that utilizes the arts may never be possible but we can at least create awareness. To those who recognize the benefits of, engage in and truly support the arts, bravo to you! And thank you. 🙂

Enjoy this short video!

My Final Summer Hurrah

By: Chaunte McClure

I was excited about fall’s arrival, but I had to make a trip to the beach before summer’s end. One of the perks of living in Columbia is you can get to a beach within two to three hours. I chose Myrtle Beach for my final summer hurrah. It’s familiar territory and there are plenty of things to do while you’re there.

Myrtle Beach

Since it was near the end of September and a few weeks past Labor Day, I figured there would be fewer beachgoers, but not so. It was in the upper 80s and beach fun was still in high gear! Why are families still vacationing? Isn’t school back in? Those were two questions I asked while people watching as we scrolled down Ocean Boulevard trying to find a place to lay our heads.

Myrtle Beach

No vacancy. No vacancy. No vacancy. We saw those two words in lights for miles. Again, I didn’t think Myrtle Beach would be flooded with tourists at the end of September; therefore, I didn’t make it a priority to make reservations.

Myrtle Beach

After about two hours, we finally found a place where we were willing to stay. But wait, it was just for one night. There was no availability for Saturday night. That’s okay, one night at a time. At that moment I was just ready to rest.

Saturday morning we made a quick trip to the outlets. I thought it was quick; my husband might beg to differ. Next stop was Broadway Grand Prix because I was ready to speed things up and run circles around my husband on the tracks. I also took a swing at whipping him in mini golf. For 20 bucks we got to act like big kids and drive go carts. Then we played putt-putt. I confess: I lost! I lost on the track and the green. But I had fun and that’s a win for me!

Myrtle Beach

My whole purpose of visiting the Grand Strand was to put my feet in the sand and make a splash. So our next stop was the beach where we could see hundreds of sunbathers soaking up the sun, kids frolicking in the water, couples enjoying a beach walk and people collecting sea shells.

I never stay in the water long. It probably takes me longer to immerse my body all the way in than the time I spend fighting the waves. That’s because I’m trying to get used to the cold water.

Myrtle Beach

Thank goodness for a warm pool and a Jacuzzi. I think I spent more time there. By the way, finding an oceanfront room on Saturday was painless.

After all that time in the water (and heat), I was ready to fill up on crab legs. All I needed to find was an all-you-can eat restaurant with crab legs on the bar. I was in seafood heaven when we arrived at Bennett’s Calabash Seafood Buffet. I don’t know how many trips I made to the buffet. I wasn’t counting. I will tell you that I ate my money’s worth. Nom nom!

It’s always sad to see the last day of vacation or a weekend getaway come to an end. More memories were made and more stress was released. I look forward to seeing ol’ Myrtle again.