Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tradition Never Graduates


Tradition never graduates. It endures; it energizes; it revitalizes; it gives us a frame of reference. This was my brief message to the nearly four hundred Oconee County High School alumni who gathered at the Oconee County Civic Center on June 30 for their annual dinner.

Sponsored by the class of 1962, which was celebrating its fiftieth class reunion, the night was a model on how to gather people together to celebrate the educational experience. I was wowed by the enormity of the event and the number of participants. It spoke volumes to me about the importance of education to our community, and the value placed on the tradition of that educational experience.

The question of tradition has remained in my mind since that evening. Thus, this week’s column will focus on our community’s traditions and educational experiences. In essence, the goal of this correspondence will be to hear from you! I want to know about our schools. I want to learn from your experiences. I want to know what you value and remember as alumni.

As I write this column the history of the building that I sit in at 34 School Street does not escape me. Yet, walls rarely talk. People hold the best stories. Within the first few weeks of arriving in Oconee County, I had the pleasure of meeting several great present and former educators, as well as current and former students. The pride they share in our schools is tremendous and their stories paint a picture of our educational experience. This picture was painted even more vividly for me a few weeks back.

As I worked away at my desk one day when the office was closed, I heard a knock at the door. I looked out to find Ms. Augusta B. Verner, whom I was told to call “Ms. Gus.” Ms. Gus and I visited briefly and she shared with me her story of teaching in our schools for over three decades. She talked about the building that I work in each day and the buildings that make up our complex; she shared her experiences at several of our schools. It was a walk into the past and I soaked up every minute. I look forward to speaking with Ms. Gus again as I know that her knowledge of the past will assist our system in the future. Plus, she gives great hugs.
Individual stories can write an interesting history. They can provide perspective, clarity, and detail that are sometimes lost in communities as they grow and morph. Help me preserve that tradition by sharing your story.

I want to hear from you. Please email me at jbranch@oconeeschools.org to share the traditions you want to see maintained or perhaps traditions that you experienced that have faded away and need to return.

As always, I look forward to your responses.

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