It was such a joy yesterday to see so many people gathered together to commemorate their years of education at Caddo High School. As I looked around the room I realized what an impact many of them have made on the lives of others. It doesn’t matter if they stayed here or went off to join other communities; they have taken their heritage and values with them. As Linda Combrink said, “My parents, and then my school, and my community passed on values and showed me how to deal with people.”And she also made the point that Caddo has produced a great many teachers.
I think Caddo is a fine example of “it takes a village”. I can remember so many women in the community giving me advice and praising my school work and acting as second grandparents or aunts to me! I recall looking up to many of the men in leadership in our little town. It wasn’t unusual to see many of our friends and neighbors several times a week as we shopped, went to church, and attended school.
It is also an incredible coincidence that my father and I were at the reunion for the same reason. When you stop and remember that I attended seventeen schools in three states- CA, TX, OK- it is remarkable that I ended up graduating from Caddo! Dad and I even had two of the same teachers- Mrs. Seago, and Mrs. Brown. Mrs. Brown told me often that while Dad was more skilled at math than I was, he was certainly not a better-behaved student!
There were a lot of classes not represented yesterday and it was obvious that the majority of the attendees were of a “certain age”. I suppose reunions are not as popular as they once were. Younger people have so many other things to do and so many family obligations and travel is so expensive. And I think it takes a few years to become sentimental about your high school years. You have to experience a few real heartaches and problems before you appreciate how simple and carefree those years actually were.
Oh, I know Caddo is not perfect and neither are its people. There were some tragic events during my own school years that were due to poor lifestyles and bad decisions. We’ve all witnessed things that we thought only happened somewhere else to people who were “raised by wolves”. But the foundation of Caddo is solid and its values are strong and its ways are traditional. When bad times or bad people create trouble, the community joins together to solve the problem. I’ve seen it happen a hundred times. If there is a disaster or tragedy in my future I can think of no better place to be than here when it occurs.
I’d like to thank all the good people who contributed to my education, but the list would be far too long to be contained here. However, I feel compelled to single out two of those special people: Mr. and Mrs. Ruel “Chief” Choate. Mrs. Choate was a cook and Mr. Choate was our custodian, but they were both as important to the training of students as any teacher on staff. Both were fine examples of hard-working, caring citizens.
So…we carry home the memories of another alumni gathering and I know that when 2016 rolls around someone who was there today will be absent from the group. Health problems and death are a fact of life. But I hope the bond we all share will keep their memories alive forever.