The 2019 Sunshine School Tour

Written by: Morgan Lake, National Chair, DAR School Committee
October 22, 2019

The 2019 Sunshine School Tour rolled away from the NSDAR Administration building on Saturday, October 12, 2019, following the conclusion of the National Board of Management meeting. Nearly 80 Daughters joined President General Denise Doring VanBuren as she visited the five DAR Schools located in the southern states; however, the traveling party grew to nearly 200 with buses from California and Texas joining the tour.  At each stop, the participants were educated about the schools by visiting the facilities, meeting the children and speaking with administrators and staff.

The first O-FISH-AL stop was the Hindman Settlement School, which has been a DAR-supported school since 1921.  Executive Director Dr. Brent Hutchinson and Kentucky State Regent Carol Rogow welcomed a record-setting number of guests to the campus.  In addition to providing dyslexia services, Hindman preserves the culture and supports the agricultural heritage of eastern Kentucky.  This was best demonstrated by a delicious farm-to-table luncheon served family style.  The afternoon was spent touring the campus and especially exciting is the newly outfitted Dillon Junior Membership Dyslexia Technology Center.

Next, Crossnore School CEO Brett Loftis and his staff welcomed the 2019 Sunshine School Tour to the Avery Campus in North Carolina with a delightful program performed by the Williams Academy students.  Founded by DAR member Dr. Mary Martin Sloop in 1913, Crossnore has been a DAR-Approved school since 1924. The sunny day was filled by touring campus sites, visiting the Weaving Room and the most popular activity: shopping in the Sales Store.  After a delicious lunch, the group gathered in Sloop Chapel to attend an emotional presentation by Shenandoah Chefalo, a Michigan Daughter and a faculty member for the Center for Trauma Resilient Communities.  The visit concluded with a dessert reception, and the buses soon departed for South Carolina. 

On Tuesday, the tour arrived on the campus of Tamassee DAR School. President General VanBuren was welcomed by Interim CEO Jon Holland and South Carolina State Regent Libby Billham to the tune of “New York, New York.”  A large crowd assembled in the auditorium for the opening ceremony, where a new vision for the school was unveiled, along with the criteria for a recognition program promoting good citizenship.  Lunch, meetings, tours and a special centennial dedication program kept the Daughters busy throughout the day.  A formal banquet celebrating the 100th anniversary of the school was held at the Madren Center on the campus of Clemson University that evening.  The visit concluded with the Founders Day Program the next morning, where gifts given to the school by the National Society were formally recognized. 

The fourth stop on the 2019 Sunshine DAR School Tour was Berry College in Rome, Georgia. At 27,000 acres, this is the largest college campus in the world — and certainly one of the most beautiful. Founded by Martha Berry in 1902, DAR is considered their longest continual supporter. Daughters were treated to student-narrated campus tours, a visit to the Martha Berry Museum, and a reception hosted by Xavier Chapter and the Georgia State Society on the back lawn of Oak Hill.  During dinner in the new Christopher Browning Pavilion, President General VanBuren delivered inspiring remarks about her own personal and professional accomplishments. Berry students performed for the assembly and Dr. Steven Briggs thanked the Daughters for the continuous support of Berry College.

The Daughters were walking on sunshine by the time the buses rolled in to the final stop of the 2019 Sunshine School Tour — Kate Duncan Smith DAR School in Grant, Alabama.  The legendary student welcome did not disappoint.  Nearly 1,400 students welcomed the President General to the Gem of Gunter Mountain for two full days of activities:  campus tours, a JAC performance, craft fair, meetings, a formal Dedication Day ceremony, the famous basket lunch, a video production, a tailgate party and a football game that ended with a DAR Patriot win.

The 2019 Sunshine School Tour was a success, and throughout the tour, Daughters were able to see first-hand the “reel” difference that the DAR makes in the lives of children through our support of education.   Daughters are Hooked on DAR Schools!

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