Hodgson Hall • Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School • Rabun Gap, Georgia
Photo 2001 by Beverly Guthrie Lougher '58

Dale's Tales

February 10, 2002

Dale Denham Shaffield
Class of '59

Welcome to the fourteenth and final edition of Dale’s Tales.  Yes, the final edition.  I will tell more about the closing of Dale’s Tales at the end of this newsletter, but first I would like to share with you two other exciting news items. 

 The first news item refers back to the dedication of the Arts and Technology Building that took place on October 20, 2001.  Vernon Wright recently sent me a copy of the speech that Jimmy Adams gave at the dedication.  Vernon’s remark to me about Jimmy’s speech was…..“It is a strong statement that the Board of Trustees and the Administration of the school are looking to the past to provide guidance of the direction of the school in the future”.  After reading the speech, I totally agree.  I would like to share the speech with you.  Also, I think you will be pleased with the direction the school is taking.  And thank you Vernon for sharing this very important speech with us.

James A. Adams, Jr., Bob Long, Robert Reardon, Greg Zeigler

"The Future of Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School"
 James A. Adams, Jr.
 October 20, 2001 

It is a pleasure to be here with Greg Zeigler, Bobby Rearden, the members of the boards of trustees and visitors, the students and teachers, and the community and friends of Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School to celebrate the dedication of the new Arts and Technology Building. 

The American playwright Thornton Wilder spoke of "standing on that razor's edge between the past and the future," and I think this occasion gives us a special appreciation for what he meant. 

As that great American historian Bobby Rearden so eloquently just reminded us, RGNS has a rich and wonderful past that stretches back nearly 100 years. And as I dreamed about the future of our school, I realize how important that past really is. Back in the 1970's, that late, great rastafarian, Bob Marley, wrote a reggae song called "Tomorrow People," and the refrain goes like this: "Tomorrow people, where is your past? Tomorrow people, how long would you last?" The song concludes with this bit of wisdom: "If you don't know your past, you don't know your future." 

We stand at a pivotal point here today. On the one hand, it is the eve of our centennial - a time to celebrate a proud history and recognize all the hard work and efforts that have enabled our school to succeed in dramatic ways. On the other hand, however, recent events around the nation and the world are contributing to a sense of uncertainty about what our future might bring.

And the question I ask myself as I look to the future of RGNS is, how can we be as wise and insightful and visionary as our founder Andrew Ritchie a century ago in our own efforts today to imagine the next  hundred years that lie before us? 

An important part of the answer to that question is contained in the building we dedicate today - the Arts and Technology Building. G. K. Chesterton, who was one of England's literary leaders in the early part of the 20th century, said that art is the signature of the human race. The arts represent the collective vision and voice of humankind through the ages, as generation after generation has expressed its identity, dreams, hopes, and fears in music, visual art, and drama. The arts contain the cumulative meaning, beauty and value of culture and civilization, distilled into forms that can speak more deeply and eloquently than words, and handed down through the centuries. Each new crop of young artists takes its place in that long line of continuous creative expression. 

Technology represents our future. During the past 10 years, new inventions and innovations have swept around the world on the back of rapidly advancing communications and information technology. Today, our president and his secretary of state both have high-level technology advisors, and science and technology research has become a global enterprise, addressing complex international problems from global warming and climate change, to emerging diseases and disasters. Technology can also create the tools that will both provide security in the face of terrorism and help to address the festering, underlying problems that spawn it.

According to Dr. Rita Colwell, the executive director of the National Science Foundation, "in the 21st century, new knowledge and the technological innovations it fosters will drive economic growth and determine the quality of life and the health of the planet," 

Here in this building, the past and the future join hands as art and technology dove-tail to enrich each other. Here technology will enliven and invigorate the arts, providing new avenues of artistic, expression in computer graphics, electronic sound, and dramatic effect. And here the arts will humanize technology; reminding us that technology is a tool that needs to be focused on serving humankind and improving the quality of life for people everywhere. 

But there is another sense in which the past and the future join hands in this magnificent building we dedicate today. Over the course of its life, RGNS has developed a loyal cadre of alumni, parents, teachers, neighbors, and patrons who have believed in the school and benefited from it. But instead of paying it "'back," they are paying it "forward", investing their blood, sweat, tears, time and legal tender to enable RGNS to serve its future students as well or even better than it served them in the past. This building is the centerpiece of the 22 million dollar facilities improvement plan made possible by the efforts of these stakeholders. 

Their investment is in more than just the bricks and mortar behind (around) us. Their investment is in an educational process bent on producing high-quality, ethical servant-leaders, and they will continue to measure the return on that investment in the character of our students as they take their places in our world.

Someone once said that your true education is what remains after you've forgotten what you were taught in class. Beyond geography and German, beyond physics and phsy-ed, what do our students need to know? 

Are we educating them to be inquisitive of thoughts yet also mindful of community and their responsibility to it?  To seek balance and wholeness in their own lives and for others ? To understand themselves and their environment, and to listen and empathize with others? Can our graduates not only dream great dreams, but also foresee the likely consequences of, the courses of action they choose? Do they know the difference between ambition and greed, the difference between loyalty and servitude, the difference between liberty and license? Do they understand that you become a leader not by looking for opportunities to lead, but by looking for opportunities to serve? 

To paraphrase the closing lyrics of Bob Marley's song, if we want to know the future of RGNS, we need to know the past, and carry forward the treasures and valuable lessons from it. The events in the world around us right now put an exclamation point on the importance of clear communication and the understanding of other cultures and religions. And as I think about the RGNS of the future, I see a school that continues to be loyal and true to its long standing Presbyterian affiliation and its Judeo-Christian heritage, while at the same time continuing to foster an academic community of diverse faiths and backgrounds without becoming politically correct.

I see a school whose continued good stewardship of its resources puts attendance within reach of all students, so that no qualified student is turned away for lack of funds. I see a school that continues to cherish the natural beauty that surrounds this campus, and teaches its students that the environment is not a competing interest, but the playing field on which all other interests intersect. And finally, I see a school that realizes that the ethical servant-leaders it is shaping for the future are still the children of today, and need time in the midst, of their "study, work and worship" simply to enjoy life, and have fun! 

After writing a vast 1,000-page history of the world, British historian J.M.Roberts concluded that two general truths emerge from the study of history. The first is that things tend to change much more and change more quickly than you might expect. The second is that things tend to change much less and more slowly than you might expect. 

In a few moments we are going to "lift our eyes to the hills" as the choruses sing Psalm 121. For me, the beautiful, age-old words of this Psalm are a reminder that even though the times and the technology are changing rapidly, the underlying virtues and values that characterize education at RGNS are as steadfast and enduring as the mountains of the Blue Ridge, and they are more essential than ever as we begin our second hundred years.  May God continue to bless this school of excellence and all those who live, learn, labor and serve here in honesty and dignity. 

Jimmy has been elected as the new Chairman of the Board to take over from Bobby Rearden later this year. Vernon’s opinion is that Jimmy is an excellent choice.  Again, I agree.  Please give us your thoughts and feedback regarding the above statement.

Next on the list of exciting news……..

Rex Neal, Committee Chairman of the Alumni Heritage Center, with a recommendation from Janie Owens, has invited me to join the Heritage Center committee.  It is with great honor that I accepted that invitation. This committee has always been made up of Junior College Alumni.  This is the first time someone outside the JC has been invited to join.  I am delighted and hope to represent the RGNS 50’s well.  I will be counting on your support.  I attended my first meeting on January 19th.

Jimmy Deal, John Carter, Dale Denham Shaffield, Butch Darnell, Eric Hoilman, Rex Neal and Greg Zeigler.

The following items were discussed:

Estimated Budget for,  (1) furniture for the Heritage House, (2) cost of moving the farm house,  (3) cost of moving the farm barn. 

Estimated dates for the completion of the farmhouse and barn.

Discussion on where to hold the June 2002 Homecoming.

Discussion on raising adequate funds for the completion of the Heritage House.

It was decided that this year’s homecoming would be held at the A&T building instead of the Heritage Center.  This decision was made primarily due to the fact of limited parking at the Heritage Center and lack of facilities.  The Heritage Center and Archives will be open for alumni to visit as usual.  Lunch will take place at the dining hall.  Please make plans for attending Homecoming 2002, June 7th, 8th, and 9th.  It’s not too soon to make your hotel reservations now.

On the topic of completion of the Heritage House, one of the needs we discussed was landscaping.  Here’s where I need your support.  Based on the enthusiasm our group has shown for the Heritage Center, I have pledged that the RGNS 50’s alumni group would like to take control of this project.  It would require our donation of both labor and funds.  Rex will have a professional layout the landscaping, keeping in mind that we only want to use plants and scrubs that are indigenous to the area during the period of time of the farm families.  Our part will be to contribute to the cost of said landscaping and to have a “digging and planting” day.  So, please think about how you can help both financially and physically when the time comes.  Completion of this project is set for our Centennial Homecoming 2003. I will be attending another meeting the first part of April and I would like to be able to carry to the table our commitment and support of this project.  Please contact me with your thoughts, comments and let me know if I have your support. 

Now for the final news………….. 

I have decided to change directions in 2002.  This flamingo will no longer fly solo.  I am privileged to have three of my friends share their talents with me to create “Rabun Ramblings”.  Randy Hughes ’59 will continue to do his magic, technical computer stuff; Beverly Guthrie Lougher ’58 has film loaded and cameras ready and our most talented poet, photographer, and writer, Harold Thurmond ’60, will make sure we all have our feet firmly planted in the clouds.  We will try to capture some special moments and hopefully entertain and inform.  The RGNS 50’s Family site is so special to all of us and we hope that our contribution will make a nice addition to it. 

Since the RGNS 50’s site will no longer be keeping up the current web pages, and since so many of you have expressed interest in them, Randy will be transferring some of the pages to the new site.  So sit back, enjoy the site, and let us entertain you. Look for the new link soon in the news section.

That’s all the news that is news for this final edition of Dale’s Tales.

To the hills, I lift mine eyes!

Think HOMECOMING 2002! Spread the word! June 7th, 8th, and 9th.

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Rabun Ramblings