“Public service must be more than doing a job honestly and efficiently. It must be a complete dedication to the people and the nation.” — Margaret Chase Smith, U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Maine
Public service to one’s community, state or nation often goes without notice or reward.
Yet, our daily lives, from transportation to education to tourism and many other fields, would be vastly different without the dedication of women and men who serve the public day in and day out. The work can be tedious and tiring, but our public servants are there for us when we need them and to answer questions that often would confound even the smartest people.
Three public servants at the historic John de la Howe School were recognized Thursday, May 31, by the state of South Carolina for their service this week. The Palmetto State sets aside time in the month of May to honor its state employees.
JDLH honorees are Peggy Medlock, Procurement Specialist II, who was honored for more than 25 years of service to the Palmetto State; Emily Anthony, Food Service Specialist V, honored for more than 10 years of service, and Lisa Young, Food Service Specialist I, honored for more than five years of service.
Their dedication to the students and staff on our campus makes our lives better each day. And for that, we owe them abundant expressions of “thank you”!
People of the 21st century who have heard about the John de la Howe School probably think of it as a residential facility for children of unmet potential or as a place where young people are placed by S.C.’s Family Court system or Department of Social Services.
That’s the modern impression.
But before there was a John de la Howe School, there was Lethe, the home and sprawling farm — plantation, in those days — of Dr. John de la Howe, the benefactor for whom this historic place is named.
The name “Lethe” comes from Greek mythology and means a “river of forgetfulness.” The idea was that drinking from this river would cause people to forget the past.
Each of us has days that we know that we will remember for many years to come. For me, one of those days was Monday when Dr. Anthony “Tony” Warren Sr., who had an instrumental role in the 1992 and 1994 archaeological digs of Lethe, came to campus. He lived at John de la Howe as a teenager and became one of the school’s and Dr. de la Howe’s most ardent admirers. He has poured his heart into preserving the history of Lethe and ensuring that the school’s past becomes central to its future.
I hadn’t met Tony before but I knew of his love for de la Howe from our staff and alumni, and I knew that some of his passion went into the writing of the book, “Lethe, The Life and Times of Dr. John de la Howe.” As an author, I appreciated his work to bring an important story to life.
When he arrived on our campus on Monday, he invited me to go to the site of the archaeological dig and to see where Lethe was established. Tony was visiting from Georgia to help clear the path to the site and to determine what other work needed to be done to make this a place where people can visit and enjoy the natural beauty around them. His goal is the preservation of these grounds and the de la Howe story.
To say that I jumped at the chance is both an understatement and overstatement. Oh, I wanted to go!
I love history, and I have enjoyed getting to know this school’s history. But I wasn’t dressed for a trek into the forest, and, well, it was humid and probably “bug ridden.” Yet, how could I say “no”!
Here was the authority on John de la Howe and Lethe, and he was offering to give me a tour. I did what any intrepid lover of history would do — I put on my athletic shoes that I now keep in my office for the times that I can go out on the farm and thought that the clothes didn’t matter. I could either get them cleaned or throw them away. I could go home and wash away the grime of the forest. This opportunity was too valuable to miss.
The original home and surrounding buildings, as well as the beautiful gardens, are lost to time. But as I discovered during my “hike,” the archaeological dig established the foundations to the buildings. Signs mark the path and placards tell the placement of buildings. With a little imagination and Tony’s expert tour, I began to “see” Lethe and understand why a man who died more than 220 years ago wanted to live here. A physician in the Seven Years War in Europe, Dr. de la Howe emigrated to South Carolina in the mid-1700s. He began a successful medical practice in Charleston, treated both Patriot and Loyalist soldiers during the American Revolution, bought land in what was the Abbeville District of the Palmetto State (now McCormick) and established his final home here.
The forest surrounding his home is a treasure — a protected treasure that will prevent future development and the encroachment of “progress.” Lush and green now that it’s spring, the trees provided a cover from the sun and an environment for the birds that were chirping and also the insects! But even I didn’t care as I climbed over logs, walked through the leaf-lined path and swatted bugs. I was living in the past and enjoying every minute.
The Lethe property slopes down to the Little River, which feeds into what is now Lake Thurmond. It’s easy to envision the beauty of a late spring day at Lethe in the last 15 years or so of the 18th century when de la Howe lived here with his companion Rebekah Woodin The physician-farmer and his guests dined on fine china, and the records of Ms. Woodin’s estate tell us that she wore silk dresses, furs and diamonds. The couple entertained lavishly and enjoyed their last years in a place of environmental grandeur.
John de la Howe bequeathed his land and fortune to establish a home for orphans and a farm where they could learn skills that would ensure their success in life. Thousands of children have benefited from his benevolence. Tony is one of them, and he is on a mission to ensure that Lethe — a part of the past — remains at the heart of our future.
Two men, separated by time, share a bond of preservation and compassion. No one should ever forget how strong this bond, which bridges more than two centuries, is in the history of South Carolina and the lives of the young people served here. Tony is the embodiment of Dr. de la Howe’s heart, and his own heart is taking Lethe into tomorrow!
Submitted by Karen Petit (Karen.Petit@delahowe.k12.sc.us)
If there’s an “It” plant at the moment, it would have to be a succulent.
And if being part of a trend in gardening is important to you, then you’ll have to travel no farther than the historic John de la How Greenhouse to get your “plant fix.” You’ll be the “it gardener” in your neighborhood, which should merit an extra dessert at the next neighborhood picnic or block party.
I first noticed these charming plants several years ago and was intrigued by their many delightful shapes and quirky characteristics. Never a gardener, I have been struggling over the past several years to make changes to the landscaping of my family’s home which has suffered years of neglect and denial that there is an entire acre needing help.
So, when I started looking at plants, I found succulents, which are just about the trendiest plants you’ll find anywhere. People are blogging about them, advocating for their use in home and outdoor gardens and using them for weddings, special events and commercial décor.
Who knew, right?
Succulents have great survival skills, thanks to their fleshy stems and leaves which allow them to retain water – a bit like the camel of botany. This makes them perfect for those living in arid climates because they are practically drought free. And for those who can be considered an “absent-minded gardener,” there probably is no better plant.
Although some might think that they have never seen a succulent before, the aloe vera plant with its soothing, healing properties is a succulent. And the Christmas cactus, Jade Plant and Ponytail Palm also are succulents.
People love the “hen and chicks” or “hens-and-chickens,” which are wildly popular because of the visible larger plant with smaller blooms that grow
Because succulents have great eye appeal and hardiness, gardeners of all levels of “green intelligence” want to have them somewhere! They truly are the “it” plant at the moment.
Throughout the spring, Frank Dorn and Douglas Wilkie have been working with wonderful volunteers from the area to keep the greenhouse filled with all the plants that make our gardens more beautiful. Sales have been brisk, and their influence is being seen in gardens beyond McCormick County.
Make a mad dash to the greenhouse at the John de la Howe before the succulents are gone! Even I am trying them this spring, and I probably have the lowest “Green IQ” on campus. At the end of the summer, I’ll let you know how we did!
In the meantime, isn’t it great to know that our greenhouse is on top of an international gardening trend! This is important as John de la Howe moves forward to grow our agricultural mission for the Palmetto State.
— Submitted by Karen Petit (Karen.Petit@delahowe.k12.sc.us)
A pre-21st century employment ad for the “perfect administrator” – then most likely to be called a secretary – stated that “she must be pretty as a pin-up, yet not distracting.”
The ad further defined the job by saying “she must never be rushed (yet do the work of three); never be ruffled, untidy, upset, worried, fed up, or depressed … and always make her boss think he is a genius.”
In today’s workplace, an ad of this nature never would get past the “send” key on the computer. At least, we hope not!
A “secretary” now is more likely to be an administrative professional who handles many duties and usually is the one whom others in an organization turn to for information of all types. Administrative professionals interact with many employees throughout a business, industry or institution and are the “go-to” women and men who know everything from where the emergency supplies are kept to ensuring that information flows smoothly throughout departments. In other words, they are “the glue” that binds everything together.
The administration and staff of the historic John de la Howe School held its Administrative Professionals’ Day observance on April 26 at a luncheon and honored five staff for their contributions to the school, including Teleathia Brown, executive assistant; Debbie Daniels, human resources specialist; Nadine Freeman, human services specialist, and administrative specialists Cheryl Morton and Cheryl Pinckney.
The guest speaker was Dr. LaTonya V. Leverette, and her message was one that JDLH administrative professionals and all others can relate to and use throughout their careers.
Leverette, JDLH admissions coordinator, discussed the “CARE” that makes the workplace run smoothly and effectively.
The first requirement is that we “connect,” said Leverette.
“You are the first voice of John de la Howe. You must be the most positive person. You are the image of John de la Howe.”
Others should “appreciate” those who are on the front lines of the agency. “You don’t make all that you deserve. But you are special. You are significant.”
“Respect” is vital, too, because many, if not most, administrative professionals in an organization are female. ‘Carry yourself in a respectful way. Talk and speak professionally.”
People often have an image of John de la Howe simply because of a phone conversation that he or she has had with an administrative professional or other staff member. “Before people even walk into John de la Howe, they have an image of you. People can be rude or discourteous, but we must remain respectful.”
Leverette called on staff to “encourage” themselves and others.
Troubles don’t last forever. “Stay in the fire,” she said “Remain positive and continue to encourage people.”
Leverette told her own story of her career, saying that after her first day on the job as a corrections officer – which also was the first day of her career beyond school – that she said, “I quit.”
Yet, she went back the next day and the day after and the week after and the month after until now she has earned 27 years as a state employee. Not only did she encourage herself to move forward, but she has tried to encourage others when the road was difficult to maneuver.
“Continue to be the awesome people you are,” she said. “People notice you.”
Recognition of administrative staff had its origins with the National Secretaries Association and later the Professional Secretaries International. The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) was formed in 1998. Two years later, IAAP announced that names of the week and the day were changing to Administrative Professionals Week and Administrative Professionals Day to keep pace with the modern administrative workforce.
— Submitted by Karen Petit (Karen.Petit@delahowe.k12.sc.us)
Eagerly anticipating the opening of your community’s farmers’ markets and roadside stands where you can purchase fresh fruit and vegetables and other locally produced products?
You’re not alone. Over the past decade, the “farm to table” movement has emphasized the numerous benefits of buying local, including healthier and tastier foods. It has been a win-win for farmers, food suppliers, restaurants and, of course, consumers.
Established as an “agricultural seminary,” historic John de la Howe has had its own “farm to table” program since the early 19th century when the farm produced food for the children who lived and were educated here. Over the years, the farm and dairy were an integral part of JDLH, and students benefited from the healthy foods that were served at meals to the valuable life skills learned from working on the farm.
And while all of this may seem old-fashioned to some, the importance of the family – or local – farm is gaining in prestige.
“The farm operation at JDLH is growing,” said Frank Dorn, who is spearheading the current revitalization of agriculture.
“The land and historical mission of John de la Howe are a good fit with the national emphasis on locally produced foods,” said Dorn, who grew up on his family’s farm in nearby Edgefield.
Sales of pork from JDLH pigs has been popular this spring and are expected to experience greater growth in the fall, he said.
Other examples of the JDLH commitment to local goods include a beekeeping operation and a greenhouse that produces plants for home gardeners.
“Plans are under way to cultivate areas for the production of crops,” Dorn said. “There is a tremendous opportunity for JDLH to contribute to local food markets and to teach farming and horticulture principles to young people.”
In a nod to the success that S.C. restaurants have had with bringing locally produced foods to patrons, Bon Appetit magazine in 2013 spotlighted the menu of Husk restaurant in Charleston, saying, “In our farm-to-table era, trout is never just trout – it’s Sunburst Farm trout. Same goes with Mepkin Abbey mushrooms and Ambrose Farms spinach.”
Naming the suppliers of the food items serves an important purpose.
The article quoted the Husk general manager as saying the menu is “… a way to celebrate the Southern ingredients. We feel very strongly about recognizing the people who raise these items, and [the menu] is our opportunity to share that information with the dining public.”
At Stella’s Southern Bistro in Simpsonville, a large chalkboard in colorful handwritten script displays the local farms and food producers that provide vegetables, fruits and dairy products to the restaurant.
Stella’s web site pays tribute by saying, “Our kitchen uses time honored culinary techniques and cooks with respect for the product, our farmers, and our diners.”
Considering the JDLH acreage, history and community commitment, “the potential for our farm is huge,” Dorn said.
Submitted by Karen Petit (Karen.Petit@delahowe.k12.sc.us)
“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” — Luther Burbank, environmentalist and pioneer in agricultural science
Heading to the greenhouse at our historic John de la Howe School is sure to lift your spirits. And it’s the first step toward bringing that “sunshine, food and medicine for soul” into your life.
Hours for the greenhouse during the week of April 23 only are:
Monday through Friday — 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Saturday (April 28) — 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
These hours are scheduled to coordinate with the other work demands of our staff.
Those of us who know the historic John de la Howe campus and love its bucolic setting are understandably upset when someone, who really doesn’t know our story, says, “I drove by your school some years ago. You are in the middle of nowhere.”
I would like to suggest that the “middle of nowhere” is in the eye of the beholder.
Established in 1797 when much of America was in the “middle of nowhere,” John de la Howe largely has remained a working farm surrounded by pristine forests. Nestled in the heart of the Sumter National Forest, JDLH comprises more than 1,300 acres, including pastures and large tracts of timber. Some of our property is on the Little River that feeds into Lake Thurmond.
The tomb area where the namesake for our state agency is buried rests on more than 160 acres of protected land and must be left in its natural state. A stand of “Old Growth Forest” has been protected from fire and logging since 1797 and is one of the best remaining examples of this forest type in the Piedmont region of South Carolina. Our forest is listed as a National Natural Landmark and is in the original tract of land purchased by Dr. de la Howe in the late 1700s.
The campus area, where students from throughout the state live and study, is on another 117 acres surrounded by woods and pastures.
The building where my office is located is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and birds are chirping outside my window as I write. When I drive to and from work, I pass by dozens of goats and their kids, as well as cows and calves. Down a winding road, we have chickens, and across another winding road are more barns where pigs and their babies born in the past couple of months make their home. The grass is so green that you want to take off your shoes and run barefoot, and sometimes I believe that the sky above surely was created by an artist with the most vivid blue paints!
It is spring at historic John de la Howe where azaleas are bursting with exotic colors, bees are buzzing, butterflies are flitting from bloom to bloom, and wild dogwood blossoms add a punch of white to the woods that are becoming green after a cold winter. The serenity that envelopes our campus is the sort that people pay large sums of money to find.
I am beyond fortunate that my drive to work doesn’t come with pangs of anxiety because of traffic. I don’t maneuver interstates or congested city streets. True, once I’m here, I can’t dash out for coffee at Starbucks or spend my lunch hour checking out the sale at Talbot’s. I did that before in a different time and place.
But I can go to see what is blooming in the greenhouse and watch the baby goats play! And I can look around and know that this “nowhere,” in existence for 221 years, continues to provide a learning and living environment that will enable young people to have successful lives.
We didn’t get the “memo” telling us that we are in the “middle of nowhere.”
Our alumni and all who are here — and all who have been here — know that we are in the “middle of somewhere” – and this somewhere is quite grand!
Submitted by Karen Petit, JDLH Office of Public Relations and Marketing
Merriam-Webster Dictionary tells us that the word “historic” has several meanings:
a : famous or important in history — historic battlefields
b : having great and lasting importance — a historic occasion
c : known or established in the past — historic interest rates
d : dating from or preserved from a past time or culture — historic buildings
But have you thought about the John de la Howe School as being “historic”?
If you haven’t,” I think you should – and that includes all of us who love this special place. When Dr. John de la Howe wrote his will in 1796 to establish the school that bears his name, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and his army were marching across Europe to expand France’s landholdings. George Washington gave his farewell address, and John Adams was elected president. Tennessee became the 16th state.
When you stand on the grounds of JDLH today, it is nearly impossible to imagine that the school had its origins at the same time as all of these other major historical happenings!
Upon Dr. de la Howe’s death in 1797, his will established an “agricultural seminary” for 12 orphan boys and 12 orphan girls in an area then known as Abbeville. His desire was that they have a home and develop skills that would provide them with means of support for a lifetime.
Dr. de la Howe’s estate was left to the Agricultural Society of South Carolina, which was responsible for overseeing the intent of his will. Once the doors to the “Lethe Agricultural Seminary” opened and young people were admitted, the school took shape and became known throughout the state as a model of philanthropic success.
The John de la Howe School has endured wars, the Great Depression and changing fortunes; yet, its commitment to the education and well-being of thousands of South Carolina’s children over 221 years has never faltered.
Dr. de la Howe’s benevolence has endured as well through the successes of its alumni. The 1996 book, “Still Caring, Still Dreaming” by theJDLH Bicentennial History Committee, reports: “The will is one of the seminal documents of American educational history, and the reality is that its lineage is more complex, more fascinating and more distinguished than tradition has claimed.”
Future public relations efforts will refer to JDLH as “the historic John de la Howe School.” The description is appropriate for the amount of time that this great institution has impacted our state, nation and world bear and the thousands of people who bear witness to its history and greatness.
The Alumni Association of the historic John de la Howe School will hold its Fifth Annual Golf Tournament on Saturday, March 17, at the championship golf course at Hickory Knob State Resort Park.
The event will benefit of the students of the John de la Howe School, established in 1797.Pre-registration is encouraged by March 14. The $50 registration fee includes green and cart fees. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. The shotgun start begins at 9 a.m. Prizes will be awarded and a meal served at the end of the tournament. Participants may sign up as an individual or as a team.
Checks and money orders are accepted. Send, along with name, address and phone number, to: JDLH Alumni Golf Tournament, 192 Gettys Road, McCormick S.C. 29835.
For information, call 864-391-0424.
John de la Howe School . 192 Gettys Road . McCormick, SC 29835
John de la Howe School
192 Gettys Road
McCormick, SC 29835