Editorial: Can we reach another 84 percent together?

February 1, 2012

Kudos of the week goes to the students and staff of Hood River Valley High School.

The report on graduation rates and an article on the Extended Application night at HRVHS are both profiled on page A1 of this edition. They are examples of convergent yet parallel tracks that benefit HRVHS students.

At 84 percent, the HRVHS graduation rate trends well above the state average, placing the school in the top 7 schools in Oregon, and fourth when factoring in the high ratio of students who are on free and reduced-price meals status.

The success happens because people work together; teachers and staff focus on outcomes for the students, and the school has engaged local agencies, community partners and a host of volunteers to spend time with the students and help them achieve their goals.

The Extended Application process is a case in point. Many citizens stepped forward to serve as judges at this week's EA showcase. Plenty of others are cooperating throughout the school year, and did so last summer, providing a venue or mentorship, or both, for the students' EA projects.

The Summit Career Center, the ASPIRE volunteer counseling service and tutoring programs at the high school are other unsung examples of the year-long backing by businesses and individuals.

As Principal Karen Neitzel states, the range of community support "shows the students how important their work is and that it is valued by the community."

In turn, students make efforts on behalf of the community with via Community Work Day (coming up in May; watch this space), the annual food drive and other programs.

"Our kids do a lot of things for the community and in turn the community gives our kids a lot of support," Neitzel said.

Students who are 17 and will turn 18 this year are eligible to register to vote; we encourage them to engage in the democratic process, for voting is one of those acts of community service in which we help ourselves as well as others.

In Saturday's edition, we'll publish the list of offices up for election on the Hood River County ballot; the vote is May 15 but the deadline to file is March 6. A related deadline is April 24 - the last date to register to vote for the Primary.

In the past two primary elections the overall county voter turnout was 59 percent and 70 percent, in 2010 and 2008, respectively.

There will be plenty of newly eligible young voters in 2012, and with the help of the engaged as well as previously idle voters of all ages, it points to a goal this May and November.

The graduate rate of 84 percent is admirable - so this year, what if our voter turnout rate came close to matching it?

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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