Think back to scenes from Gone with the Wind, and then imagine young women of today dressed as they did in 1861, learning the social graces of the mid 19th century.
Carley Beth Goode, former Fayetteville resident, along with nearly 20 other girls, recently spent a full week at the 1861 Girls School held this year at the Antrim Plantation in Columbia.
This was her second experience as a student at the 1861 Girls School; the first one was in 2010, when she was age 14. She enjoyed it so much that she saved her money and paid for the tuition herself this time around.
The historic Antrim Plantation is located on 300 acres of land that act as a barrier to the modern world.
This experience is like a step back in time to the antebellum period, where young ladies ages 14-19 become Southern Belles for a week.
The girls forfeited their cell phones and other modern devices, in favor of the simpler graces that women would have learned at a women’s college during the pre-Civil War era.
In preparation for that week, Carley Beth custom designed and sewed all of the hoop dresses she wore throughout the week, except for her ball gown, which was a gift from her grandmother, Patty Seals of Fayetteville.
In addition, Carley Beth wove a basket to use at the school for carrying items.
Girls learn subjects that would have been taught in the mid-19th century, such as rag rolling hair, domestic arts, floral arranging, art, mourning customs, penmanship, dance, current events of the day, cross-stitching a bookmark and tea etiquette. On the grounds outside, they learned how to ride sidesaddle and about the field sport of falconry and archery.
The event culminated with a ball held at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. There, young gentlemen, members of the Jackson Cadets, attend the ball.
Carley Beth was awarded the Virginia Renfro Award of Excellence this year. And, while the teachers generally decide who will receive the award, they couldn’t decide whom to choose this year so instead let the students vote for the girl they felt deserved the award most.
“The majority of my peers voted that I should get the award, and that is very special to me,” said Carley Beth. “Words can hardly describe how honored I was to receive the Virginia Renfro Award.”
The Award of Excellence is given in honor of Virginia Renfro to the young lady who most exemplifies the characteristics of a true southern lady. Some of the considerations include appropriate appearance – dress, hair, makeup, gentle voice, caring deeply for others and treating everyone with kindness and respect, excelling at the graceful arts and many more characteristics. Virginia Renfro exemplified those qualities and many more.
Virginia joined the faculty of the Girls School in 1992 and taught needlework and domestic arts until her death in 1999. After her death, the faculty asked her daughter, Renee’ Renfro Bowser, to join them on the staff, assuming her mother’s position.
Mrs. Bowser presented the award to Carley Beth.
“Carley Beth is a special young lady and I am honored to have become a part of her life,” Bowser stated.
Carley Beth is the daughter of Allison Goode of Meridianville, Ala., and Jamie Goode of Lincoln County.
For additional information about The 1861 Girls School, go to their website www.1861girlsschool.com.