Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Carson Matthew Davis, a senior at Summerville High School, has received the prestigious Daisy Richardson Doar Scholarship, which is awarded by the Dorchester Free School Board (DFSB). The $8,000 scholarship is distributed in four annual installments and will be applied toward the recipient’s college tuition. Selection is based on academic promise with consideration given to financial need. Daisy Doar, for whom the scholarship is named, was an elementary school teacher and scholar who was instrumental in the 1897 founding of the Timrod Literary and Library Association in Summerville.
Carson, a son of Charles and Teresa Davis of Summerville, plans to major in accounting at the University of South Carolina. He has distinguished himself as a scholar and an athlete during his four years in high school. He ranks fourth in a senior class of 587 students and has a near perfect 3.9 Grade Point Average. He scored highly on both the Scholastic Aptitude Test and the American College Testing program.
He is Vice President of the student body and President of the National Honor Society. He was captain of the Green Wave Swim Team in his junior and senior years, made All State four times and holds five school records. In community service he has been active in Relay for Life, Stockings For Soldiers, Operation Christmas Child and the American Red Cross blood donor program.
“Carson is most deserving of this honor,” said DFSB President Steve Hutchinson. “He was chosen from 16 applicants, all of whom possessed the qualities of leadership, scholarship and service. The Scholarship Committee, led by Ned Miler, had a challenging decision to make and made a fine choice.”
The unanimous selection of Carson was made recently at the 279th Annual Meeting of the Dorchester Free School Board, which is believed to be the oldest operating school board in the country. The board traces its roots to 1724 when the Colonial Legislature passed an Act of Assembly creating a free school in the town of Dorchester on the Ashley River. The school was to be built and governed by a board of commissioners who were charged with providing educational opportunities to the town’s children.
The board’s first major accomplishment was to build a schoolhouse and a residence for the schoolmaster. The school opened in 1758 and met classes until 1781 when British troops burned the buildings. The school was re-built in 1797 and remained in operation until 1817 at which time the board was granted permission to move the school to the growing town of Summerville.
The schoolhouse and land in Dorchester were sold, and funds were put aside to build a school in Summerville, which opened in 1818 and flourished during the antebellum years. The board lost most of its funds during the Civil War and did not recoup the losses until the turn of the century.
In 1906 the board used its assets, augmented by citizen contributions and a grant from the town, to buy land and build an elementary school on Laurel Street. Six years later the commissioners sold the land and the building to the trustees of School District 18, and the Laurel Street School continued educating the children of the community until the mid-1950s when it was razed to make room for a playground. During this time the focus of the DFSB shifted from bricks and mortar to the challenge of providing financial help to college-bound students.
Over the course of its long and colorful history the board has endured the loss of facilities and funds caused by the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the Great Depression, but its mission has remained steadfast - to provide learning opportunities to young people.
The funding of scholarships comes from several sources, including interest earned on invested assets, annual membership dues from the trustees and tax-deductible contributions from individuals and corporations. Three scholarships are offered by the board - one four-year scholarship for pursuit of a medical school discipline and two four-year general scholarships, which are the Doar Scholarship and the Tommy Cuthbert Memorial Scholarship.