By Jo Ann Anderson Beken
Class of 1971/GHS Ex-Student Association President
The executive board of the Groveton Ex-Students' Association was excited to review the community input for the theme of our "Big Homecoming" event scheduled for October of this year. We had several great suggestions and we selected "A Groveton State of Mind" as our theme that would drive our plans for homecoming, 2016. We thank Brandy Washington for her great idea!
As I was reflecting on our theme for Homecoming 2016, I asked myself "What is 'A Groveton State of Mind'? How can it be described? What does it look like? What does it feel like? Who 'has it'? Can you only get it by being from Groveton?" I believe that in order to understand it, we have to first look at where our little town is located--in the great state of Texas. John Steinbeck said "Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, county, Texas is the obsession, the proper study, and the passionate possession of all Texans". Wow! Is that not a great description of the feelings those of us who grew up here (or moved in) possess? Even though we may have been gone from Groveton for many years or just recently arrived, we still feel that 'tight cohesiveness, that passionate possession' of being a Groveton Indian, of being a part of something larger than ourselves; "A Groveton State of Mind".
Ten or so years after leaving Groveton, I was attending a large, state educational convention, sitting in a major venue with many of my colleagues near the front of the meeting room. I had not lived in Groveton for many years, making my career and my home several counties away from Groveton. Seated with my group as the speaker was engaging us with humor and animation, we were laughing and enjoying the entertaining speech when the speaker points to me in the audience and shouts "Where are you from?". Without hesitation, I shouted back "GROVETON!". My colleagues immediately corrected me and shouted back the correct answer, where I was currently working. While it was a little embarrassing at the moment, it was also an affirmation of my 'passionate possession' of being a Groveton Indian. I also felt badly for my colleagues who were not able to proclaim that they were from Groveton! To this day, and always, when I am asked where I am from, I proudly proclaim, "Groveton". I will always passionately and proudly possess "A Groveton State of Mind"!
Each of you could answer the question of what "A Groveton State of Mind" means in many different ways. Our definitions will be honed by our individual experiences as we developed friendships, worked with teachers, coaches, administrators, and competed on athletic and/or academic teams. Some of you did not grow up here yet definitely share "A Groveton State of Mind"; you embrace the tight cohesiveness and the passionate possession of being from Groveton, regardless of when you got here or how long you stayed.
I write a monthly article for the Ex-Students' Association in which I review our yearbook, The Tomahawk. I have summarized the annuals and observed the evolution of our "Groveton State of Mind" from the 1940's into the 21st century. It is an amazing experience to review the chronicles of history of the Groveton school system during the past 75+ years and I have a definite sense of the meaning of "A Groveton State of Mind". Webster's Dictionary defines a "state of mind" as "the way something is with respect to the main attributes". As I review the yearbooks and the history revealed by them, I can tell you that the main attributes that are apparent include excellence, academic focus, strength of character, competiveness, commitment, and passion, all components of "A Groveton State of Mind". Scores of wonderful teachers, coaches, administrators, custodians, secretaries, cafeteria workers, maintenance personnel, bus drivers, school board members, and community people contributed to our individual definitions of "A Groveton State of Mind". These people were/are the foundation of "A Groveton State of Mind" and are such treasures as they contributed to developing our traditions and legacy. I invite you to celebrate with us as we remember and cherish our individual definitions of "A Groveton State of Mind"! Come back home in 2016 and rekindle your feeling of being a part of "A Groveton State of Mind". We welcome you!