Since my superintendency at Lufkin ISD began, we always have a theme for the year. A mantra, per se, that keeps us focused and sets the tone for the district. My first year, the theme was “One Voice. One Vision.” The focus was solidarity. Our vision was excellence and to come together to give value to all kids. Kids like myself who didn’t have the privileges and advantages of an ideal upbringing. Kids like Dez Bryant who dreamed big no matter what and had the coaches and teachers who saw to it that his dreams were realized. Just like our theme of “One Voice. One Vision.” Dez had a vision to “X” out negativity with his famous “throwing up the X.” We have a vision of greatness for all of our students, but to achieve those dreams a positive attitude will take you far.
Our 2014 slogan was “You are a child’s best hope, best chance, best educator.” This theme was created to highlight the importance of our staff and teachers. I’ll never forget my fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Bradford, who made a difference in my life. She told me I was smart, treated me like I was smart and expected me to act like I was smart. She made me realize the importance of education, and her words and expectations set me up for success. She spoke life into me. She was my hope and I wanted to be just like her. While Dez was in town, he seemed so grateful to see some of his past educators. The pictures of him hugging these heroes spoke volumes. These educators provided hope, which created a foundation for him that will last a lifetime.
For the past two years, our themes were “Lufkin Unified” and “One Town. One Team.” The high school students came up with #LufkinU to show their unity among all sports and extracurricular activities. We use the same hashtag today that the students started several years ago to not only post districtwide events, but to show that our district is unified and supports all things Lufkin ISD. “One Town. One Team” was created along the same lines of having unity but showing how much community support we receive. We are blessed to live in such a giving community like Lufkin.
With his recent homecoming, Dez stepped back in time and, with a huge smile on his face, played like a kid in the park. He seemed sincere as he greeted everyone and spent time with kids from our community. He talked about how much Lufkin meant to him and that he was a John Outlaw product. He was speechless and touched by the number of friends and fans who came out to show their support. This upcoming year our theme is: “We are Lufkin!” That is something that no one can take away from you. When you walk the halls of our schools and gain knowledge and experiences that will take you places, you are Lufkin.
Dez, we’ll always be your biggest fans. We know you caught it because just like that catch, you caught the hearts of Lufkin fans the moment you walked onto John Outlaw field so many years ago where your journey to greatness began. Like Dez, no matter where you go, you can always come home because “We Are Lufkin!”