Thursday, May 10, 2007
ICS ceremony honors Gipson
By SUE WATSON
From humble beginnings, great strides in education have been made in the Mt. Pleasant area through the dedication of a large extended family going back many years.
Institute of Community Services (ICS) Head Start recently dedicated the Mt. Pleasant center in the name of Knowledge Gipson. The Gipsons are a large family of brothers and sisters who raised large families back when agriculture was the basis of the economy in Marshall County.
A class of children helped open the program by singing “We Are the World,” words repeated by center director Evelyn Shields in welcoming remarks.
“As we know, ‘we are the world,’ as the children sang,” she said. “We need to start making a better world for everyone.”
Holly Springs Mayor Andre’ DeBerry remarked that Knowledge Gipson’s name goes with Head Start like peanut butter and jelly or ice cream and cake go together.
“May this great institution always bear your name with honor and respect,” he said.
Gipson has worked with ICS since around 1967, brought on board by director Arvern Moore, who has served as executive director since its inception in 1966.
Builder Roy Ray, whose family lived near the many families of Gipsons when he grew up, used both humor and respect in words honoring the Gipson families contributions to the community.
“I have lots of memories related to what we’re doing here today,” Ray said. “Knowledge and I along with his uncles Fred and Loyd and S.P. and all the children were raised up on the same road.”
“The Gipsons had large families.
“We were family on the road. We helped each other out. I had to leave there to learn about segregation. Sam P. and his mother, Versie, must have been able to foresee this day. They named him Knowledge.
“As we look forward now, I think one person or one family, or one extended family can make a difference. The road we grew up on is named Gipson, not Ray Road.”
Chancery clerk Chuck Thomas, standing in for Eddie Dixon with the board of supervisors, applauded Head Start as a very honorable way.
“Because, after all, we are building men and women for tomorrow,” he said.
Winston Gipson noted how in America a person’s name goes on a building after he or she has died while ICS, in naming its centers, is honoring the living. The Holly Springs center was dedicated to Margean Taylor-Myatt the same week.
Great things during their humble beginnings are not noticed nor the builders, he said.
“You’d never imagine Head Start could turn into something; you don’t think anyone is watching; but you look back and today, Knowledge, somebody was watching,” Winston Gipson said. “Also the accomplishments the entire family here achieved with so little to do it with - people would say that with so many kids you’ll be getting them out of jail. Papa said once, ‘I had 17 and I never had to go get one out of jail.’ ”
Uncles, aunts, parents at the time were role models who taught children to keep working hard and to endure to the end, he said.
Moore presented some of the history of ICS which he said began in 1966 with 866 students enrolled. The 20 ICS centers today serve 3,639. The 1966-67 operating budget was $864,000 and today the annual budget is $22 million, he said.
In the early days, Head Start couldn’t find buildings, so the centers were set up in houses and churches, he said.
The first center opened in Mt. Pleasant at Gatewood Church. Moore praised the women, who during the early years of Head Start did most of the repairs on the centers, not the men.
ICS began building programs 40 years ago, not knowing the way but with faith that it was going to help some boy or girl, Moore said.
“There was some territory we had to cover and making large steps, we reroofed houses, dug wells and septic tanks. The women in these centers did most of the patchwork, not men.”
Gipson said he was at a basketball game at Byhalia when Moore approached him to come work for ICS.
Thanking his friend Roy Ray for his memories of the Gipson families, Knowledge Gipson said his father Sam, his uncles Fred and Loyd would be proud.
“Winston is a product of Head Start and now president of Gipson Mechanical,” he said. “That makes me want to stick my chest out.
“We were always taught to try to move above where you are. There was no such thing as not going to school. We had to go to school, come out with a college degree. All we knew was the classroom and to teach. I just want to express my appreciation to this community and Mr. Moore for naming this facility. We sure appreciate this for the whole family.”
Eric Shields, son of Evelyn Shields and also a product of Head Start, said he appreciated the act of “giving a man his flowers while he’s still living.”
“Hardship taught us how to be together,” he said.
Shields said as a young man he hunted and fished on all the land without realizing that the community was “all one big family.”
“Let’s all of us be a role model in some child’s life,” he said. “Education is the beginning of all knowledge.”
Knowledge Gipson said his dad had 17 children, his uncle Fred had 17, his uncle Lloyd had about 14 children and Alonzo, and adopted son of his granddad, had one son.
His greatgrandfather and relatives are thought to have moved from Florence, Ala., to Hackamore Ranch in Section 24. The Gipsons were farming families.
Sam Gipson wanted all his children to be educated and to get college degrees, Knowledge Gipson said. All but one attended college after high school getting some type of degree.
Knowledge Gipson received a bachelor’s degree from MI College in Holly Springs and studied one year at Alanta University and one summer at Fisk University.
He taught general science in Tate County schools then taught two years at Mary Reid School in Potts Camp and was teaching general science at Henry School in Byhalia before joining ICS.
At ICS he was in charge of buildings and grounds and transportation and an now is a social (outreach) worker.
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