September 22, 2018

UGA student’s heartfelt speech about Heard County

(Editor’s Note: Current UGA student Ms. Erica Hendrix agreed to share with our readers a speech she delivered for one of her college courses about Heard County. Erica is 20 years old and graduated from Heard High School in 2014.)

Ask me where I come from and I’ll usually tell you, “Heard County, but you’ve probably never heard of that because it’s too small.”

We only have one red light in the entire county, just three little restaurants, one infamous pizza place that smells up all of Main Street, and if you blink while driving through, you will miss the entire town.

The biggest events in Heard County are the 4th of July fireworks and the Christmas parade, where we literally have a section on the parade sign-up sheet for the people who want to ride their tractors.

Erica Hendrix

Erica Hendrix

Our high school only has about 500 students and a handful of teachers, but they all seem like family. It was not until I came to the University of Georgia did I realize how much that little county meant to me.

During my first year at UGA, I took an English course and the teacher assigned us a writing topic: “A Sense of Place.” She didn’t give us much instruction for the assignment, except to tell us to write about what we believed our sense of place was.

When the teacher doesn’t give you very specific guidelines, it makes it a challenge to decide what you think is the right or wrong answer. So naturally, I assumed this meant to write about where you came from. I began reflecting on my home town.

Heard County is a community that comes out every Friday night for football games, regardless if it is 100 degrees, or 19 degrees outside.

Heard County is a place that supports one another during tragedies, like coming together when my brother’s best friend was paralyzed in a wreck and watching his progress as he walked across the state at his graduation, as well as the same community that stood on the streets beside the high school when the softball players went off to state.

Not only THAT – Heard County is the town that supports other schools as they mourned for their own tragedies, like the time our marching band joined the opponent’s marching band (Temple High School) to play Amazing Grace during halftime on our own field in memory of one of their own players.

Heard County is a town that people wanted to get away from, but missed when they actually got the chance to escape.

When I look back, I see the impacts the town has made on my life. It truly is where my sense of place comes from. It is also the kind of place that anyone would be proud to grow up in.

People dream of getting away from this small town, but for me it wasn’t the feeling of wanting to get away that made me leave. I had worked my whole life to make the grades and meet the requirements to get into college, specifically UGA. My community is the one who helped support me to get here.

The saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” has never seemed truer. During those years of my life, I never realized how close our community was or the impact each person had on my life.

Each one of the teachers put their hearts into teaching us, encouraged everyone to go to college, and pushed us to prepare for it. I owe a huge part of my success to my parents, but I also owe it to school faculty, family friends, my “church family,” the small business owners, even the people in the chamber of commerce.

Coming to college, I realized that not many people came from small towns like me and, well, bless their hearts. They missed out. After telling people about my hometown, I was able to truly realize how big of a blessing it was to be so close and connected with the community.

After that assignment my freshman year that seemed so challenging, I no longer thought of my town as just “boring,” or a place to get away from. This was probably the teacher’s expectations: to make us actually think. But now I think of it as my sense of place, and a place that made me who I am.

I am proud to call Heard County home because of the people there who make it so special.

Erica Hendrix

Comments

  1. Robert Montgomery says:

    We love you true!

  2. Kim Hendrix White says:

    Proud of you Erica Hendrix.

  3. Awesome! Erica, I work with your aunt Kim, and she told me how much you love your “Heard County School”, and the article written paint the while picture of reality for our beloved community. Our community is blessed with Big hearts.

  4. Reatha Burson says:

    Your smile and positive outlook haven’t changed! I feel the same way about our “place!” God bless you Erica…go wherever God leads you but always come home to our place! Much love and admiration…
    Reatha Burson

  5. Jennifer Mate says:

    I am also from Heard County, I grew up at the end if a long dirt road in the uncorporated little bit place called Corinth! I went to Heard County Elementary school and my sister went to middle and high school there! I’ve always bragged about how beautiful and how great it is there!! My best childhood memories were made there! I moved to Mississippi when i was 15, I have always talked about wanting to move back there to raise my kids because of all the reasons you pointed out in this piece you wrote! This is so true and exactly explains how it is and even how it was way back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when my family lived there! Thank you so much for representing our home town so well!! Wish you all the best in life! God Bless!!
    Jennifer Mate

  6. Jana conway says:

    Erica I am a close friend of 1 of ga.rep. And he and I come from a community just like yours and as I read your report I could c so much of me n u…I’m still,here 64 yrs.young now, but I still love this place.thanks for sharing

  7. Amanda Headley says:

    Erica, you are an amazing young woman. Your smile and positivity radiate wherever you go. I was blessed to teach you when you were in fourth grade. You will always be “little” in my eyes, but you’re making a gigantic impact on everyone you encounter. I’m so proud of you. ❤

  8. You make us proud

  9. “Heard County is a town that people wanted to get away from, but missed when they actually got the chance to escape.” So true!

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