For years, students from the nearby middle school have traveled to campus twice a month to gain exposure in a real working environment. Typically, their efforts benefit the Tamassee Thrift Store located off Highway 11. From the time they arrive until the time they leave, this group of eager students sweep, dust, fold, wipe, and even assist with the check-out activities. This year their instructor indicated that a few of the students would be interested in learning landscaping techniques and asked if Mr. Harper, who keeps Tamassee’s campus beautiful, would be interested in having some extra help in the form of a couple of their student workers. Mr. Harper was tickled and so the work program expanded.
Today the students arrived for their scheduled work day with Mr. Harper and after a while, two of the students came into the Administration Office to cool off. As I engaged them in conversation, one of the boys identified himself as a former student of Tamassee. He went on to tell me the name of his former teaching parent, who I quickly recognized and realized that this young man would have been a residential student during my time here. I did not recognize him. As he continued to recall his memories of life on campus, I came to realize who he was! My, how he had grown and changed since leaving us over 4 years ago. It was so nice to see him again after all this time, and to recognize the love in his eyes for Tamassee even after all these years. As we chatted, I recalled he had an older sister here with him, and it was exciting to catch up on her progress and to hear that she is also doing fine.
It is indeed a special day when a former student returns to campus. The word about the visit spreads throughout the staff, and hundreds of questions follow regarding how they looked and what they are doing now. It is always our hope and prayer that they have found their way to a good life. The genuine love and concern for these students never stops and never grows old.
The events of this past centennial year brought many former students back to visit the Place of the Sunlight of God. Whether it was a student who lived here decades before today’s staff arrived, or whether they were a child directly under the care of the current staff, they always found welcome here.
During our upcoming Founders’ Day event we will pay tribute to our DAR founders, who 100 years ago had the vision to build an organization where children were welcomed with love, book learning was encouraged, good citizenship was practiced, and work force skills and practices were developed. Yes, we will reflect on the founding principles, but more importantly we will provide insight into the future with a clear direction that very closely resembles the past.