With the DAR School Tour offered only once during each administration, I felt it was an opportunity not to pass up! The first hand knowledge of the DAR schools is invaluable for our members, especially us way out west in Wyoming, who only hear snippets of each school’s mission. I am very honored to be asked by Mrs. Dillon to write this blog from a first timer’s prospective, and I’m proud to share my thoughts and observations about our journey.
This tour brought together ladies from all across the country that formed a caravan of two buses, the Apple and the Arrow buses, that traveled almost 1,700 miles in the seven day journey. The buses were filled with Executive Officers, National Committee Chairmen, State Regents and Committee Chairmen, Advisors and others which gave us the unique opportunity to have one-on-one time to ask and answer a wide range of questions relating to the School Tour and DAR. Along the way buses from Florida, Illinois and Texas as well as delegations from many other states joined with the same goal: to seek knowledge and offer support for our DAR schools.
Our first visit was to the Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky, where school representatives and over 100 Kentucky Daughters warmly greeted us. As a school that addresses the needs of Dyslexia students, it has a beautiful, peaceful setting that instills a sense of serenity and hope. After celebrating at their chapel for DAR’s National Day of Prayer we were offered tours of their campus, and enjoyed walking along a meadow and over a quaint bridge for the dedication of an outdoor pavilion. The Appalachian region is rich with music and local artists, and the valuable work at Hindman also supports that heritage.
The entire school body of Kate Duncan Smith (KDS) in Alabama lined the street with waiving flags when the DAR buses arrived on Monday! The children welcomed us with smiles, flowers, cheerleaders, handshakes and hugs, as well as an outstanding vocal performance by all to celebrate DAR’s 126th birthday! KDS is a kindergarten through high school that provides an excellent educational opportunity for students that also instills a sense of patriotism. Their team mascot is the DAR Patriot and their school mission to celebrate its history, foster patriotic ideals, and promote God, Home and Country. The kindergarten class proudly posted a US map and asked visitors to color in their state, showing the children how far we all traveled just to visit them. A huge thank you to the Alabama Daughters for their gracious Southern hospitality and gourmet snacks after a long bus journey – we all hope y’all will share your recipes!
With 27,000 beautiful acres and about 2,100 undergraduates, Berry College, in Georgia, has taken pride in educating the hands, hearts and minds of students for the past 100 years. We admired the craftsmanship and masonry skills of the students of the past, who used their skills and bricks from their own kilns to construct their buildings. As a liberal arts college it is also the only college that DAR supports. Students joined us at dinner, and friendships have been forged at this college where “Remember the Titans” and the wedding scene from “Sweet Home Alabama” were filmed. It was truly a magical evening under the stars at Berry College.
Tamassee School, in South Carolina, is known as “The Place of the Sunlight of God” and serves children in immediate need through hope, healing, knowledge and truth. More than just a school, it offers the hope and healing that is absent in the children’s lives, and assists children and families that are in crisis. Our hearts were tugged by the testimonies of students and the appreciation they have for our nationwide DAR support. The school campus consists of several residential cottages that are supported by DAR states societies, that offer the crucial necessities of the residents.
Crossnore School, in North Carolina, offers both physical and emotional support in a residential setting for foster children, and currently has 22 sibling groups living on their campus. Its beautiful campus is also known as the “Miracle on the Hill”, and offers an on-campus charter school and many activities for the 85 current children, ranging in age from just under a year old up to 19 years old. They offer a pet nurturing program that allows the students to help care for the animals, all who have been rescued, and includes a dog at every residence, and also an equine center. DAR members, showing their support to Crossnore and their children in need, visited the Weavers’ Cottage, Resale Shop and Miracle Grounds Coffee Shop.
Besides visiting the schools the tour also enjoyed an evening at Crystal Caverns State Park, the Biltmore estate, the Madren Center at Clemson University, rededicating the DAR Forest at Pisgah National Forest, visiting the Natural Bridge in Virginia, and we even had a history lesson that included Patriots, the British and Cows! Our days began at 6:30am bringing our bags to the lobby for the bus, and ended around 9:30pm when we rolled into our hotel. The tour was well planned, and the buses were full of sharing and laughter, as well as very gratified DAR members.
Through the hours and miles on the DAR School Tour the friendships that were forged bound us together with a greater cause, and will forever be memories that will smile on my heart.