The great poet Robert Frost once shared that, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Every year when Homecoming time comes around I reflect back on the first time I returned home after starting college. I actually went home on a whim on Homecoming weekend at my high school, and didn’t even let my parents know that I was coming. Fortunately, they acted like they were excited to see me when in reality they probably wanted to kill me for surprising them by just showing up (laundry in tow, of course). It was great to come together with my family and friends, and to look at life at my school from a different lens now that I was a big time college student in the big city (Okay, Omaha isn’t a huge city, but was much larger than North Platte, Nebraska).
I have experienced Homecoming in a variety of communities over the last thirty eight years in my career, and there is just something special about the Homecoming activities in Mount Vernon. It is a time of great pride for the community, and a time of great excitement for those who are returning home after being away for college, or returning from places near and far where they have settled after high school. The last thing I say each year to graduating classes during my speech at Graduation is that Mount Vernon is home, we will always be here to help them, and that they are always welcome here. It makes me happy and proud when I see past graduates return home and excitedly engage in activities like Homecoming, and to see them reach out to us when they need our assistance despite the fact that they have already graduated and moved on. That is living proof that they remain connected to the community and to the school district.
This year, I have encouraged our staff to focus on the culture in the district and community and what makes Mount Vernon special. When times are tough, and it is safe to say that this last year and a half has been tough, there is no more important place than home. Home is where those we love reside. Home is where we feel most comfortable. Home is where we feel connected to those most important to us. Home is where someone will always be there to take us in. For those of you who returned to Mount Vernon for Homecoming, I hope it is and was an exciting time for you. For those of you who call Mount Vernon home, thank you for all you do to make it the kind of community that people always want to come back to.