District youth meeting led family to Harrison County
When the Wayne and Kymberli Wilkinson family started looking around this part of Southern Indiana for a new home, they were afraid their children might experience a bit of culture shock.
They had lived for years in rural Montgomery, Ind., population 400, in Daviess County, which has large Amish, Old Order Amish and Mennonite populations. For ‘big city’ activities, like dinner out, movies and shopping, the Wilkinsons had to drive 10 miles to Washington, population 13,000, where Wayne, 37, and Kym, 35, went to school, met and married. Evansville was about 1-1/2 hours away.
Wayne and Kymberli Wilkinson’s oldest child, Jessica, now 14 and a freshman at Corydon Central High School, had many friends among the Amish and the Mennonites, but when they graduated from the eighth grade, most of them dropped out of school, and Jessica wouldn’t see them much anymore. Her freshman class at CCHS has more students than the Barr-Reeve High School’s entire student body in Montgomery. But, said Kym, Barr-Reeve is an ‘awesome, four-star school’ with student test scores that go off the charts.
The Wilkinsons thought about Louisville (think the Science Center for the kids and Kohl’s for shopping, Kymberli said), Clark County and Floyd County and their school systems, but feared the schools and the class sizes would be too big. The Harrison County schools looked good.
What made the difference in their decision turned out to be a church youth group. The Wilkinsons attended Westminster Presbyterian Church in Washington, the second oldest Presbyterian congregation in the state. Kym and Wayne had stayed in Corydon a couple of years ago when they attended the Presbyterian General Assembly in Louisville.
They liked Corydon. Wayne said Saturday morning, ‘It’s a neat little town that doesn’t feel small. Everybody was friendly, helpful and makes you feel welcome. We live half an hour from the big city and got cows across the street.’
Kym and Jessica were active in the Ohio Valley Presbytery’s youth council. A district planning session was held last spring in Mitchell, and Jessica got to know several kids from Corydon Presbyterian Church. Kym got to know the Rev. Cheryl Thorne, associate pastor at CPC who works with the youth. That did it. Jessica wanted to move to Corydon. Wayne and Kym were already familiar with Harrison County. They knew housing was relatively inexpensive here, and taxes aren’t that bad. ‘And it’s got a Super Wal-Mart,’ Kym laughed.
‘What the kids wanted was really important,’ said Kym. ‘We knew we needed the kids to be gung-ho.’ The other Wilkinson children are Taylon, 11, and Lauren, 4.
They started looking for a temporary home in Corydon and moved here last month.
Wayne, a U.S. Navy veteran, works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, traveling all over Southern Indiana as an equipment repairman on the eight locks and dams the Corps operates on the Ohio River.
The Wilkinsons are impressed with the wide range of activities in Harrison County, especially the many festivals.
‘In Montgomery, our big thing was when Wal-Mart put out its garden center,’ Wayne laughed. The three big events there are the county fair, the Turkey Trot, and Relay for Life. Kym co-chaired the annual Relay for Life event for several years.
‘There is so much to do here. We feel like we live in Metro Louisville. Is that crazy?’ Kym asked.
Wayne helped build some of the seven Habitat for Humanity homes in Daviess County, and he was Turkey Trot race chair.
Kym is now, perhaps momentarily, a stay-at-home mom or what she calls a ‘domestic engineer.’ In Montgomery, she worked in outpatient medical records at Daviess Community Hospital and managed a senior housing development. Wayne was president of the housing development’s board of directors.
When it came to Christian education at Westminster Presbyterian, Kym said she ‘did it all.’ Wayne was a deacon and trustee. Kym sang in the choir. When the Wilkinsons moved, the choir gave Kym an unusual going-away gift: an angel made from an old Worshipbook hymnal. The book’s pages are exquisitely folded to look like wings.
The Wilkinsons also took part in ‘The Promise,’ an ecumenical Easter drama that involved all the churches in the area. Wayne helped build the set and was in charge of special effects. (Taylon, a quipster, said his dad provided ‘the smoke.’)
Jessica’s favorite subjects are algebra, physical education and drama. She plans to play summer softball.
Taylon likes math, social studies, gym and spelling. He would have played basketball on his fifth grade team that was short of players, but he had to move. He said he aspires to be an average student because he doesn’t want to be the smartest kid in class. Eventually, he wants to be a snare drummer for the Corydon Central Vanguard. He knows the ‘drummers get the chicks.’
Kym will get active in supporting the band. She said she plans to attend her first band parents’ meeting this week.
One thing the Wilkinson family has not found here: coffee cups with their names on them, but when your name is Kymberli or Taylon, well …