Wednesday, May 14, 2003
My lousy timing
At the May 6, 2003, Hood River County School Budget Meeting, held in the library at the High School, I made a statement that has evidently been preceived in a way I did not intend.
The topic of discussion was centered around district wide budget cuts that will affect our school system in the coming fall. Within these proposed cuts, middle school as well as high school athletics will see drastic cuts, which include the elimination of six high school sport programs; boys and girls cross-country, boys and girls swimming, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls skiing, and boys and girls golf. As an ardent supporter of all athletic programs at HRV and the head wrestling coach for the past eight years, I had also been notified that I along with other athletic programs would be losing additional coaching positions. Also mentioned was the fact that both middle schools would no longer be offering fall football or volleyball, due to not enough league competition.
The issue of Title 9 (a federal law that prohibits sex discrimation in public schools) was raised. Along with the mentioning of gender equity, quotas were referenced relating to wrestling and cheerleading. It was at this point in the presentation that I remarked that it would be a “cold day in hell.” My statement was in reference to cutting the wrestling program, be it because of a Title 9 misinterpretation or an outright budget issue. I am passionate about the sport of wrestling and will continue to be. I am not sorry for that.
It was brought to my attention that sometime after the May 6 meeting, some of those in attendance took my comment out of context and were led to believe that I would not allow girls the opportunity to be a part of the wrestling team. Let me be very clear: I have had, and expect will continue to have, girls on the wrestling team. I accept anyone onto the team who is willing to work hard, show a high level of commitment and compete to the best of their ability - gender makes no difference. It would be ludicrous for me to make the comment I made and relate it to not wanting girls to participate in wrestling; however, I can understand how the leap was made, and for the poor timing of my comment, I apologize.
In closing, we are all beginning to feel the pain that our schools across the state are experiencing. Our board and its administration have their hands tied in deciding what to do about the current funding. Please take the time to write, e-mail or call your state representative or congressperson. Also, I challenge every registered voter to take part in the Campaign for Hood River Valley’s Future by donating to our schools. This tax-deductible contribution matches your income to what it would have cost you had Measure 28 passed. You can specifically donate your money to the program of your choice. I guess you’ll know where mine will be going!
Mark Brown, parent and
head wrestling coach
I was shocked to find out that the tobacco education and prevention program was being cut in April. This program really works, and we should be proud of it! Smoking rates have really decreased for both adults and children since the program started in 1997. In fact in Hood River only 2 percent of our 8th graders have tried tobacco. I also did a little research and I found out that only 3 cents of $1.28 goes toward the prevention of tobacco.
This should be a clear-cut case; the tobacco prevention and education program works, and programs that are this successful should stay around. I look forward to seeing the tobacco prevention and education program fully funded in the next budget. We need to make sure that the tobacco prevention and education program is fully funded in House Bill 5030.
Not a good cut
As a student at Hood River Valley High School I have studied the negative impact of beer on teens.
I think you should tap the beer tax as a source of money to found alcohol prevention and treatment for teens and adults.
Alcohol abuse-related hospital costs in Oregon total more than $84 million a year.
Bullied at HRMS
Hood River Middle School students and counselors have recently held activities to develop an “anti-bullying” program among the students. Sadly though, one of the worst bullying experiences my eighth-grader has ever had was recently from one of the adult lunch staff at HRMS. My child was caustically attacked because of her Christian beliefs. After spouting a litany of false and derisive statements (loud enough to be heard by others across the room), this misguided woman flippantly ended her intimidating tirade to my child by sharing her opinion that my child would not end up in heaven. The following week this lady threatened to have my student removed from the kitchen if my student would not speak to her. Because of the intimidation and fear of reprisal my child reluctantly accompanied me to report this to Principal Dais. His follow-up investigation found the staff member entirely at fault and without provocation. His letter also informed me that he would contact me to arrange a formal meeting of apology with this staffer.
After five weeks neither my child or I have heard from the principal any further about this. However, though this staff member and my child have both been serving lunch together since the beginning of the school year, this staffer has been allowed to keep her job while my child was apruptly removed from serving privileges. Would this appalling bigotry have been handled as deplorably if the student were Muslim or Jew? Or African American, or Hispanic, or Middle Eastern, and clearly inferred they would be going to hell because of their race? I would hope not. Then why is this child’s religion any different?
Is the harassment and bullying an outreach from the students as a deeper cry for help, or is it just eyewash and back patting from the school staff to the community? HRMS Resource Officer, Tiffany Hicks, is quoted as saying to the students last week at their motivational assembly that “I fully expect you all to be role models and treat each other with dignity and respect.” She said it is also her goal to have the students take more responsibility for their actions. It is true that people are responsible for their own behavior. But I’m sorry, kids, that the school expects you to be the role models for the staff. I am wondering what the school is going to put in the “New Program to help kids understand the effects of bullying.”
Art takes wing
When a community comes together to create something special, it is a beautiful and powerful thing to behold. Thursday’s Wy’east Dreaming Human Art For the Sky project culminated on a cold and windy field when 1,000 children, teachers and community members gathered together to form a five-color version of Mt. Hood. Watching from a helicopter, the human eruption led by the Westside School first grade “hot lava” classes dressed in red was one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed from the sky. All the “snow and rock people” following after them with such precision, and the “mountain and hill people” holding space for them worked perfectly! Bravo!
Lots of people deserve recognition and thanks. First I’d like to thank the “skygirlz” as they enjoy being called: Ellen, Suzanne and Sheila. Their creative and tireless efforts to raise money not only made this event happen, but raised additional money to go towards an Art For the Sky learning adventure in another Gorge school! And to all the individuals and businesses who contributed, thanks much! Elementary school principals, Terri Vann and Dan Patton and their assistants, were great in working with us and incorporating schedule changes, and dealing smoothly with all the issues that came up. Thanks!
Numerous volunteers whose names I don’t know or can’t remember helped organize the chaos of hundreds of students getting t-shirts of different sizes and colors, and placing them properly on the field. Thanks! Special thanks to Rick at PP&L and his co-workers for arranging the giant bucket truck to get us up over the power lines for pictures. A really big thanks to Max from Hillsboro Helicopters for bringing in his biggest “bird” for the ultimate aerial photography vantage point.
Most of all, I want to thank all the school children and their teachers for embracing such an unusual art form. They followed directions well and all their laughter and joyful energy considerably warmed up a cold spring day and the hearts of everyone present. May you all have wings to fly!
Is it worth it?
It’s amazing how short sighted people are when it comes to war and its aftermath. While armed conflicts may have definite ends, the palls they leave behind all to often darken the world for decades or even for centuries. We so readily go to war beneath wonderful banners that read: “The War To End All Wars”, or “Make The World Safe For Democracy.” These slogans sound patriotic and make the heart beat proud, but history tells us that they are usually just empty rhetoric. The Great War, now called World War I, spawned Communism in Russia and opened the ground for the birth of National Socialism (Nazism) in Germany.
It certainly didn’t End All Wars. Two decades later World War II further spread communism across Eurasia, a far cry from Making The World Safe For Democracy. When it comes to war what the drums promise is seldom even remotely close to what we get.
The law of unintended consequences always soars on the heated winds of war. It is doubtful whether the U.S.S.R. would have fought so long and openly in Afghanistan during the 1980s if their leaders had ever dreamed that it would lead to the fall of their vast union. Neither would we have fought in that same war covertly had our leader known that it would lead to the rise of the Taliban, a government far worse than the one we originally sought to overthrow.
If people would grasp the true magnitudes and outcomes of past wars it is hard to believe that they could ever seek to partake in or show support for a new one. Just look at the cost of our entry into the first Gulf War. Nearly 200,000 of our soldiers now suffer some degree of Gulf War Syndrome, and about 10,000 of those as a result now lie beneath our soil.
The healthy youths we send to war so often little resemble the weathered veterans we get back. Sadly thousands of Gulf War veterans have found relief from their daily terrors only through suicide, while sadder still for us Timothy McVeigh chose to blast out his demons in the heart of Oklahoma City. In exchange what positive thing did we get out of entering into and “winning” the 1st Gulf War? For those of us that ever actually knew or can now remember, was it really worth the unexpected empowering of a group of radical Saudis into the Al Qaida?
Is there one among us that thinks that the millions of deaths that sanctions and civil war brought to Iraq in the 1990s was worth the name of Osama bin Laden becoming known throughout our land? If it is so hard to find any one good thing that came out of our first foray into the Gulf, how could we have ever have dreamed of repeating it?
No one can imagine what new horrors our Second Gulf War may bring our world. This is not some ball game we sent our national team out to play, that was to be won by a joyous score of 250 to 1. Instead it is a conflict of biblical proportions, whose true costs presently lie unknowable to us and will have to be paid by our grandchildren.
At this point the people of Earth can only hope and dream that this war with its hodgepodge of fuzzy aims will buck the historic norm and instead of inflaming evil, as wars so usually do, will instead bring to our world at least a little good.
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Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest 2016
Kiteboarders in action during the pro competition Friday at the 16th Annual Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest in Stevenson. All photos by Ben Mitchell. Enlarge