DAR Schools Tour: KDS and Berry College

October 9, 2013

Yesterday we headed back to the KDS campus for a second day of activities, including a Dedication Day ceremony.  The gymnasium was full with all of the students as well as 300 DAR members and others from the tight knit community.  The High School choir sang “God Bless America” and the JAC performed a patriotic medley including “It’s a Grand Old Flag.” It was an honor to address the assembly about the DAR’s strong commitment to education.  All of the students rose to sing “DAR, Oh How We Love You.”   

DAR, oh how we love you,
DAR, oh how we love you,
DAR, oh how we love you.
Thanks for giving us this school!

I had the pleasure of dedicating NSDAR’s gifts to the school on behalf of the Friends of DAR Schools Fund, the School Committee (2010-2013) and generous gifts of members including administrative salaries, scholarships, and fine arts enrichment.  Cecile Wimberley, Junior Membership Chair, dedicated the gifts of the Junior Membership and many state regents presented gifts of scholarships and enrichment.

We also participated in the “basket lunch,” which is legendary at KDS. The cafeteria has tables the length of the room laden with food as the community shares their favorite dishes. This makes the meal particularly fun to learn about each of the specialties. It was fun to see some of the state regents try fried okra, one of my favorite dishes, for the first time. 

Following our lunch we bid farewell and headed to Berry College in Rome, Georgia. Berry College was founded in 1902 by DAR Member Martha Berry to provide high school education to rural youth and became the first approved DAR school in 1904. It was developed into a college in 1926, and today, it is one of the outstanding comprehensive colleges in the South, with fully accredited art, science and professional programs as well as specialized graduate programs in education and business administration.  In fact, it was recently name the #1 up and coming Liberal Arts college by U. S. News and World Report.

Our first stop was at the grave of Martha Berry, a remarkable woman of vision who was passionate about the lives that could be changed through education.  She had a desire to help the children of poor landowners and tenant farmers in Georgia who did not have access to quality education, so she founded the Berry Schools and devoted her life to developing these schools which eventually became Berry College.  Xavier Chapter in Rome, GA planned a meaningful grave marking ceremony at which Ann Bridges, Chapter Regent, Virginia Lingelbach, State Regent, and I placed wreaths.

We then toured this gorgeous campus filled with trees, pastures, and deer. In fact, Berry is the largest college campus in the world with over 28,000 acres.  They have 2,150 students and more deer than students!  DAR has funded interpretative markers throughout the campus which tell of the history of the school and its beautiful buildings.  The campus is also home to a nest of bald eagles and the school has set up an eagle cam to view the eagles up close. 

Martha Berry’s family owned Oak Hill which is a beautiful Greek revival estate on the Berry College campus. This estate now serves as the Martha Berry Museum and features lovely gardens and a rich history. We were delighted to have a reception at Oak Hill and to visit Martha Berry’s home which has been used as a backdrop for many Hollywood movies including “Sweet Home Alabama.” 

We departed for the Ford Dining Hall, a magnificent gothic hall built by Henry Ford.  An informative presentation was given about the Martha Berry Digital Archive Project which was supported by the Friends of DAR Schools Fund.  Each of us had the opportunity to visit with students and to hear how Berry is preparing them for future careers.  Following this busy day we headed to our hotel to get some rest.

If you're interested in learning more about how you can help support the DAR Schools, visit the Give a Hoot Social Hub!


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