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First responders honored, classmate remembered

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First RespondersLivingston Fire Chief Corky Cochran makes remarks during the Cole Overstreet Memorial Breakfast honoring Livingston’s first responders Wednesday. The breakfast was hosted by the Livingston High School dual credit government class taught by Debra Jenke at Angelina College Polk County Center. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

At Cole Overstreet Memorial breakfast

By Emily Banks Wooten
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The Cole Overstreet Memorial Breakfast in honor of Livingston’s first responders was hosted Wednesday at the Angelina College Polk County Center by Cole’s peers from his dual credit government class.

Cole Overstreet, 18, a Livingston High School senior, was killed Sept. 24 following the homecoming football game in a hit-and-run collision with a drunk driver on FM 350 South.

“It was an honor to be Cole’s government instructor,” Debra Jenke said. Jenke teaches dual credit government classes for Angelina College Polk County Center where she also serves as director. Each year when her senior students are studying the rights and responsibilities of citizens, she emphasizes the importance of giving back to one’s community by having her students complete a service project.

“We batted around several ideas, and this is what they wanted to do. It was very successful, and plans are already in the works for Spring 2023,” Jenke said.

Cole’s parents, siblings and grandparents were guests, along with numerous first responders from the Livingston Volunteer Fire Department and the Livingston Police Department. They were treated to a breakfast taco bar with all the trimmings and a beautiful array of fresh fruit and pound cake, along with coffee, juice and water. Dylan Shannon, a classmate of Cole’s, gave the prayer.

“Thank you all for coming to the Cole Overstreet Memorial Breakfast. This is something that we, as a class, have been planning since the fall semester,” Ryan McNabb, another classmate, said. “We are so thankful for all the first responders being here and for everything y’all do for the community.

“And thank you to the family for being here when we know how hard this is for y’all and us. It was a pleasure for all of us to know Cole. Thank you for helping us honor him,” McNabb said.

“I want to thank you for the honor of being here this morning to honor Cole’s memory. I want you to know that it affected us,” Livingston Fire Chief Corky Cochran said. “You may think we’re just hard-shelled people but we’re fathers too. Things happen and we question our sanity and ask ourselves why do we do this?

“You youngsters have so much going on and so many activities and you take time out of your schedule to do this. I look at you and I see the future. I look at you and see policemen, firefighters, doctors, nurses, teachers and coaches. It makes me realize why we do what we do,” Cochran said.

Livingston ISD Superintendent Dr. Brent E. Hawkins agreed.

“I think so much of what Mr. Cochran said is spot-on. There are tough storms that we go through—some we create and some we don’t—but it’s all a part of growing up and living and I see remarkable people in this room,” Hawkins said.

“As I look around, I see so many people who have been a part of great things. I’ve been through championships and victories and so many things that are great, but I think the heart of what we do is the love we have for each other. The love that you have for Cole is special. That is very reassuring for our future. As a parent, my heart breaks. As a community, I think it’s important we continue to love on the Overstreet family,” Hawkins said.

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