STAFF NOTEBOOK: A little story about time passing and a red-headed, freckled-face kid y’all helped us raise

Birk Wilkison and his father, Charley Wilkison, at UTSA graduation Dec. 19, 2012.

The saying that it takes a village to raise a child was meant to illustrate everyone’s responsibility in helping to sculpt and raise the young people in a community.

In fact, the argument could be made that’s why Liberty Hill cares so much about its schools — it’s a reflection of how much we care about our children.

It’s often noted that good kids come from stable, loving homes and of course there’s plenty of truth to that. But sometimes in this world of emphasis on individual achievement the help and influence of caring teachers and good neighbors are often forgotten.

When something unfortunate happens to one of our youth, we all feel it. When young people do well, we cheer them on because as a community we are heavily invested in them, emotionally and financially. In Liberty Hill, the hope for future generations has always extended beyond kinfolk to neighbors and friends — it’s what makes this place special.

Just six days before Christmas, our son, Charles Birk Wilkison, graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Public Administration. He also completed the nationally ranked law academy at UTSA’s downtown campus.

He’s been kind of busy since graduating from Liberty Hill High School in June 2009. His longtime Liberty Hill friend Jordon Emmert, pointed out that Birk may be one of the first in his Liberty Hill class to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

Watching one of your children graduate from college is a watershed moment. It seems only a few days ago that Birk was sitting at the dining room table doing homework or proudly displaying one of his strangely shaped “art” projects. As we looked on with pride in full recognition of all the pitfalls that were dodged and the good decisions that were made, we felt blessed and proud.

He deserved the credit. However, the credit cannot be claimed by the parents and the student alone. Many wonderful teachers spent so many days, hours, years of their lives contributing to his education. They watched him grow, encouraged, corrected and helped us try to raise a good person. Well, this week they should pat themselves on the back for their part in a pretty decent success story, so far.

Birk attended kindergarten through  second grade in Van ISD, prior to our move to Liberty Hill in 1999. Birk spent that summer outside getting more freckles and playing baseball, becoming the only person on either side of the family to become a real serious fan of the game.

When he began third grade at Liberty Hill Elementary School, he seemed to make friends pretty easy and settled into life in Liberty Hill with the resilience of an eight-year old. Birk became such a baseball fanatic that he carried around a disposable camera and took photos of baseball books in the library. Then he would slip the disposable cameras into the pile to be taken to the drugstore to be developed. When the pictures came back, there would be pictures of the Bassett Hound, kids playing in the yard, family trips,  but then there would also be pictures of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams — in fact, entire pages of baseball books.

At Texas Rangers games or Baylor Bear baseball games, he would stand up to shout his displeasure at the umpires like all good baseball fans except Birk didn’t holler “bad call,” “you need glasses,” or the traditional frustrated baseball vents. This little red-headeded kid would arise from his seat and yell long baseball soliloquies down from the stands. I began referring to this tactic as “filibustering the call.”

Birk’s fascination and fanaticism with baseball suddenly ended one day when in a sad voice he announced that the Rangers had traded Ivan “Pudge” Rodriquez who had played for the team since Birk was born in 1991. He was quitting baseball, he was no longer a Rangers fan. It was over. This lasted a short time until his next visit to the Ballpark in Arlington.

By the time he got to sixth grade, the baseball interest began to have competition — history, current events and politics. Perhaps he was destined for it after spending so much time in the Capitol with his father, being an honorary Sergeant at Arms in the Texas House or a Page in the Senate. Being around elected officials of both political parties was just spending time with his dad. But over time, he began to be interested in what makes things work in government, the politics of it all, and the “why and how” of the law.

Even when he named his major as political science we thought his interest might be a passing phase.  But, Birk was not one to change his mind. He decided the direction he wants to go in his life and it’s no surprise that he wants to make a difference, wants to help people and make the world a little better for the future.

We understand the challenges ahead for Birk. But for today, this week, please indulge us in allowing our family to thank all of you in Liberty Hill who touched his life, who helped make him the strong, determined young man he is today.

~~ Charley Wilkison, Co-owner of The Independent