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| "Small Towns, Big Hearts" |
Written by "Veribest 2010 Senior and Salutatorian" Lauren Moeller
It's always said of a small town that if you are unsure of what is going on in your life, just ask your neighbor, they'll undoubtedly know and while this makes a poetic line in a song or a cute saying to paint on a wall decoration, it still holds true in tiny-town-Texas. The tight-knit nature of these towns not only bonds the community but most prominently highlights the significance of family. Only in such a place can you date your best friend's brother, sit next to your principal at church on Sunday, call half of your classmates kin, and run down the hall to your mother when you have forgotten to get your report card signed. Where else can teachers call you by your nickname and remind you at the Saturday night barbeque that you have a project due on Monday morning? In no other place do parents know who your prom date is, before you do, or can possibly get pulled over for speeding and the first thing the cop says to you is, "Good game Friday night, son". The intimacy of these small communities is matchless, irreplaceable. These are not just towns, but a cluster of people who love each other, annoy each other, and couldn't live without each other, a community in small town USA.
Growing up in one such town has fashioned me into one prime illustration of a small-town kid. It is here that an eighteen-year-old high school senior can perform at a Friday afternoon pep rally, run home to feed their show hogs, be named homecoming queen a few hours later, wake up early the next morning to play in a volleyball game, and rush from the game to a Saturday afternoon student council community service project. Only in a small school is your Varsity quarterback your student body president AND the class valedictorian. It is here that your basketball coach can be your One Act Play director and your UIL coordinator. These small communities and schools are breeding grounds for success. With the overwhelming sense of togetherness we feel in such a small environment and the opportunities we have to participate, a wide-ranging lifestyle for people brought up in these towns is accessible. It is our small towns, in this day and time, that are producing big dreams and making them become bona fide realities. Our small towns are going big.
So it is quite evident that the only thing small about these communities is their size. These towns are big in heart, big in spirit, and even bigger in their impact on everyday life. The small-town kids of today are shaping our world into a more humble place, a more accepting place, and a place that anyone can be proud to call home. Thank God for these small towns and their big impacts. I am grateful beyond words for my tiny-town-Texas experience and encourage everyone to live out this simple bliss. It's humbling to know that when I have forgotten who I am, I have neighbors to remind me. When I am lost, I have a community to show me the way. And when I have fallen down,I have a support system around me to pick me up. We may be just a tiny dot on the map, a town with no stop lights, and have a population smaller then some school's graduating class, but we are here, we are real, and we are thriving. We may be small, but we're standing tall. When it comes to the prominence of these towns, small is simply in the eye of the beholder.
About the Author:
Lauren Moeller is a "Veribest 2010 Senior and Salutatorian". Her innumerable accolades include Volleyball (Junior Varsity), Cross Country (MVP), Basketball (Manager), Track (Area Qualified and MVP), and School Mascot (Competitive Leadership Award). UIL Academically, Lauren has retained recognitions in Prose (Regional and State Qualifer), Informative (Regional and State Qualifier), and One Act Play (District, Regional, and State Qualifier; All-Star cast; Zone best actress; and Zone All-star cast). She is active in school organizations, to include T.A.F.E. (President, VP, and Student of the Year); National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) and National Honor Society (NHS); Future Farmers of America (FFA) (President, Secretary, and Member of the Year, Hog Proficiency, and Local Showmanship); Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA); Class Officer as secretary and president; and Highest GPA during her 10th grade year. Lauren's community involvement rounds out her small town character, through participation in her youth group; Lions Club (Post and District Outstanding Youth); Junior League (Ambassador); Class princess and Homecoming Queen.
... apparently there's something to this "small-town kid, big impact" thing!
A Veribest ISD Historical Perspective:
The Town of Veribest, Texas:
Veribest, like many towns in Texas, has an interesting history. The Mullins community was located eleven miles east of San Angelo in eastern Tom Green County on Farm Road 380. The area was initially settled by Isaac "Ike" Mullins some time before 1875, although a community didn't begin to form until the early 1900s. Mullins gave the land for a school and the Mullins Cemetery, where he is buried. Mullins Crossing on the Concho River still bears the Mullins name. The settlement was first known as Mullins, but the name was changed to Veribest when C. A. Roberson applied for a post office in 1926. The name change was needed because there was already another community in the state with a similar name – Mullin in Mills County.
The name "Veribest" was chosen by a young woman named Sue Rister, who was asked in a grocery store, to choose the town's new name. She saw a loaf of Veribest bread and thought it would be a good name for a town. The catchy name was selected and replaced Mullins as the town of Veribest, now located eight miles east of San Angelo. Veribest grew during the 1930s and 1940s, with around 100 people living in the community. The population began to decline after World War II as residents left to seek greater employment opportunities elsewhere, and by 1949 the population had declined to forty and the businesses to two. In the 1980s two businesses and two factories were still in operation. During the latter half of the 20th century, the number of people living in the Veribest area remained steady at 40. In 2005, Veribest was home to two churches (United Methodist and Baptist), several businesses, a post office (zip code: 76886), and a PK-12 school.
The Veribest Independent School District:
Veribest School District #10 was established on July 2, 1889. The School district was originally named the Veribest-Byrd School District. The small community of Byrd was northeast of the site of present Veribest near Farm Road 380 in eastern Tom Green County. George Jefferson Byrd, the founder of the Byrd community, who came to Tom Green County in 1877, donated the land for the school that was named for him. The Byrd school was consolidated with the Veribest school to form the Veribest-Byrd school now in the town of Veribest. In the 1980s a large, well-built storm cellar was all that remained at the Byrd site. Over time, the Veribest-Byrd School name gradually became the Veribest School District as the Byrd and Mullins communities dissolved. In 2005 Veribest had a United Methodist church and a Baptist church, both involved in community outreach to local dairy workers. The school offered classes from pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade. The community still reported forty inhabitants, and contained seven businesses.
The school that exists today was built in 1927. Since then, the school has been remodeled and updated several times to meet the needs of the students. Prior to Veribest having a high school, our students would graduate 8th grade and move on to Wall High School for graduation as seniors. Approximately 5 years prior to the new Veribest High School completion, Wall High School stopped taking our secondary students because they were fast approaching the "2A-3A" barrier and didn't want to cross it at the time. As a result, Paint Rock ISD took the contract for our students, and carried them through High School graduation until our new facilities opened for the 1998-1999 Secondary classes.
In 1996, the school board voted to add a high school, and in 1999-2000, the district graduated its first senior class. Veribest ISD's total enrollment for 2000-01 was 272 students. Of that population, approximately 30.5 percent of the students were economically disadvantaged.