By: Martha Harrison Mericle
GHS Class of 1972

As I told you in last week's paper, I resigned as President of the Groveton Ex-Students Association. Our new President is Jo Ann Anderson Beken, Class of 1971, Life Member L-404. She lives in Montgomery Texas. I will write a series of thank you articles acknowledging everyone I can think of that helped make our Homecoming 2014 a success. After this thank you series, the association will submit letters from the students to be printed weekly and every month our new President will submit an article. We are going to have a smooth transition. Charlotte Tullos Y'Barbo submitted her resignation as secretary. I accepted the position. It is one I have held in the past and I understand the process we use in funding and awarding scholarships. Jo Ann and I will work together and hopefully within the next two years we will find someone willing to work hard in the years to come. Melissa Kemper was elected as Entertainment Chairman. Keep all of us in your prayers, as it is our desire to grow our organization and help the students of GHS achieve a higher education.

Here it comes and there it goes so if you blinked you missed it. Yep, "Homecoming 2014" is history. We have so many folks to thank. The Executive Board, consisting Betty Whittlesey, Kathleen Cockrell, Darlene Pyle, Judy Freeman, Charlotte Y'Barbo, Tommy Walton and me, Martha Mericle sincerely appreciate every Ex-Student that stepped up to the plate and helped. It won't be easy naming everyone and it might take a couple of articles to cover all the thanks. I most definitely will start by pointing out that hard work by the board members renders our organization solid, respected and effective. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you try to organize a homecoming activity, you can follow this outline to make your event successful. Vice President Betty Whittlesey is our Membership Chairman. She works diligently to maintain the membership roll. This roll provides the mailing list for class meetings and other activities. This roll is vital in providing classes with current class rosters. Returned mail is a dead expense so please update your mailing address each time it changes. It is your responsibility and no one else. The letters we mail are a form of advertising for our events. Advertising is vital. Darlene Pyle is the Publicity Chairman. She began soliciting for advertisers in the Smoke Signal months ago. The advertisers paid for the printing of the paper and any extra money helps defray cost associated with each homecoming. In the springtime, we mentioned in the Groveton News we would accept letters of recommendation into the Hall of Fame until the end of July. We as a group met in August, chose a theme for homecoming, chose the Chairman of the nominating committee, chose the candidates from the letters submitted for induction into the Hall of Fame, set target dates for mailing fliers, deadlines for Smoke Signal submissions, recruited a volunteer to get bids for catering, organize the parade, get the plaques, get tickets printed, gifts for the inductees, homecoming queen and prize money for the parade, refreshments for the Meet and Greet, and the biggest job: entertainment. Mid October, we recruited Melissa Kemper to help with the homecoming entertainment, as Tommy has been unable to fulfill his obligation due to unforeseen circumstances. Yes, the faithful few have been busy since school started. Each item listed had a multitude of volunteer Ex-Students helping toward the success of homecoming. Just the same, none of this would matter if we didn't have an exceptional working relationship with the school through our liaison VP Kathleen Cockrell and Superintendent Don Hamilton. So where to begin? Do I start with the ones that put out fires when the flames were about to consume us or do I thank those solid steady workers that are so prepared their work looks effortless? It is a hard question so I will say "Thank You" to all of the workers. You did good.

We received a shot in the arm when Susie Hammond posted on Facebook that we needed help coming up with prize money for the parade. Being from a small town, we realize our businesses are called upon time after time to give. We did not want to burden them asking for more. She was able to gather donations from individual GHS Ex-Students and was very effective. Connie Due and Jeanie Magee are two local business owners that accepted the challenge to donate. We received enough money to provide a token amount of prize money. "Hat's Off to You" to the parade winners: Senior 2015 Class as they won first place. Seniors 2017 won second place and Seniors 2018 won third. A special thanks is extended to those that donated and these will be listed in the next few articles. Miranda Howell secured judges and came up with a system to help the judges correctly recognize each float and the organization it represented. The judges, Debbie McCall with Kalin's Center, Kali Little and Brenda Snyder with CPS and Rana Wingo with SAFFE house with the assistance of 411th District Judge Kaycee L. Jones were impressed by the efforts of our community and school. We sincerely appreciate their attention to detail. Their love of children and community was proven as they gave their time and talent to help when others chose to charge. You just can't beat volunteers.

The second unexpected shot in the arm came when Christy LeBlanc, Rachel Merks, Denise Wars and Dana Cathey donated to defer the cost of the Street Dance. Considering the expense of armbands, security, sanitation, plus the band, a minimum of 100 individuals would have had to attend to break even. With the help of these ladies, our bacon was pulled from the fire once again and we did not go in the hole! The dance was a success as families brought their little ones to the square and those kids had a ball. Literally, while their folks danced, the kids played volleyball and all ages were included. Older kids would toss to little ones and every one of them were laughing and enjoying themselves. It was good to hear and better to see. Last minutes help came from the organizers of the "Indian Spirit Scholarship". This energetic group of Ex-Students organized when fellow classmate Rodney Thomas passed away. They are working to earn money to invest in the lives of Groveton students. This being said, they manned the concessions during the dance. The hot chocolate was a big hit with everyone as the night air was cool! In the weeks to come, more information concerning their scholarship efforts will be revealed. They have plans to hold a golf tournament in the spring so watch for more information. This group is putting forth a might effort to do the right thing for the right reasons.

I've mainly thanked the Executive Board and those that planned or monetarily helped our Homecoming 2014 become a success. Next week I will continue to thank folks and add more of the hands-on workers. To be continued... Groveton Ex-Students Association, PO Box 70 Groveton TX 75845.