Archive for the ‘Social Commentary’ Category

Son’s Introduction to Idiocy 101 at College

Our oldest son decided to serve our country in the Fall of 2009.  After his high school graduation, he was whisked away in early August with other young people who had decided to join the USMC.  After his successful 4 years in the military were finished, he enrolled in college via the Post 911 GI Bill and is now a freshman at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio.

OU

We skype with him pretty much every Sunday afternoon, an NFL game usually playing in the background.  So far, he’s spent most of his time studying, working part-time at the on campus Veteran’s Affairs office, and hanging out with extended relatives from his Dad’s side of the family.  This past Sunday he asked, “Oh!  Have you heard about the latest scandal at OU’s campus?”  We hadn’t heard about the latest scandal.  Suffice it to say, it was a  “Welcome to Idiocy 101″, college-style, for our son.

Two weeks ago, the president of Ohio University, Dr. Roderick McDavis , issued an ALS ice bucket challenge to the  Student Senate President, Megan Marzec.   Ms. Marzec decided to do a bucket challenge but not for ALS.  She had a video made of her pouring a “blood” bucket over herself while declaring that Ohio University should join a “Boycott Divestment and Sanctions” movement against the nation of  Israel.  Ms. Marzec actually used red-food colored water, not real blood.

In her video, she shared “student” concerns about genocide in Gaza and it’s occupation by the Israeli State.  Then she urged Dr. McDavis and Ohio University to “divest  and cut all ties” with Israeli Academic Institutions and businesses.  She said that the bucket of blood represented thousands of murdered and displaced Palestinians.

Ms. Marzec made her video on September 2nd.  The Student Senate, later that same day, sent out a Tweet via Twitter to apologize for Senate President Marzec’s video, and then another tweet  to state that their goal is to represent all students on campus and their views.   The Wednesday after this video was created and aired, 4 Jewish students decided to speak out at a Student Government meeting  and stage a filibuster,  asking  for Marzec’s resignation from the Student President position.   Marzec asked for student Rebecca Sebo, President of Bobcats for Israel(the Bobcat is the mascot of Ohio University) to stop her filibuster so other students at the meeting could speak in an orderly manner.  Sebo refused to stop and three other members of Bobcats for Israel also began to speak and join the filibuster.  Marzec then warned the 4 protesters that if they didn’t stop they’d be arrested for disrupting the meeting.  University Police were called and they gave the 4 protesters a 2 minute warning to stop their filibuster.  The 4 students refused to stop speaking and were arrested, taken to the campus police station and charged with disruption of a lawful meeting.   On September 12, Hillel International, a nationwide Jewish campus organization, has called upon Ohio University to apologize to the 4 students who were arrested: Rebecca Sebo, Max Peltz, Gabriel Sirkin, and Jonah Yulish.

OU Bobcats

My son’s take on all of this hubbub is that the students who were protesting at the Student Senate meeting shouldn’t have been arrested.  Perhaps they should have followed the protocol that is used when one wants to speak at a Student Government meeting, Roberts Rules of Order, etc.  However, stating their desire to have the Student President resign-that’s an offense where they needed to be arrested?

Ms. Marzec made a major error in her video.  She said she was sharing “student” concerns.  No, she was stating her “own” concerns, and perhaps if she’d made the video stating that it was  her own opinion,  and not say that all 17,000 students held her same views on Israel and Gaza and Palestinians, then perhaps her video blood bucket challenge wouldn’t have been so offensive.

In hindsight, if a University President, in a spirit of goodwill and bonhomie, asks one to participate in an ice water challenge to raise funds for a charity, than wouldn’t it be best for all at said University to honor the President’s request?  The consequences of honoring President McDavis’s original challenge would have been nonexistant.  Student President Marzec showed a lack of common sense in answering a simple request/challenge by turning  a fun way to help a charity into an immature rant that was gross and offensive.

How invested is Ohio University in the nation of Israel?  I don’t know and I don’t care!  If the University was misusing students’ dollars to pay for lavish vacations for professors or for President McDavis, or if there was a major cheating scandal happening at the school, or even bullying going on, or lousy cafeteria food-those are the types of items I would anticipate a Student President and Student Senate to be concerned with, not what is going on in a nation very far away from Athens, Ohio.   Idiocy 101; it happens in real life, and unfortunately, on college campuses.

 

Research for this blog provided by:  “Ohio University divided over Student Senate president’s blood bucket challenge”, by Karen Farkas, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sept. 16th, 2014.

“Ohio University Asked To Apologize Following Arrest of Pro-Israel Students”, by Stephen Adkins, University Herald, Sept. 15th, 2014.

 

 

 

Ray Rice, the NFL, and My Opinion

My neighbor co-hosts a sports talk show on ESPN”s Mid-Missouri 107.3 FM on Mondays, from 5:00-7:00 pm, Central time.  He and his co-host began their time discussing the latest fracas to come out of the Ray Rice issue and the NFL.  My neighbor was asking for women fans of football to call in and give their opinions.  I was too busy at that moment slaving away in the kitchen making my family’s supper but decided for today’s blog, I would chime in with my two cents about this whole issue.           espn

If you recall or even if you don’t, here’s a recap of all the furor that has erupted.  February 2014, a video was released by celebrity news website TMZ, and  then the national news media, that showed Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, dragging his unconscious fiancee out of a casino’s elevator.  That video released a deluge of uproar.   Rice was suspended from playing for 2 games by  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.  Rice, and the former fiancee Janay Palmer, now his wife, entered into counseling, and Rice did court-ordered Community Service projects for the city of Baltimore.  All was quiet, Rice apologized for what he did, the team was behind him, the coach was behind him, and even at some of this summer’s public practices, many fans attended who were behind Rice and his return to the Ravens.

Janay and Ray Rice at a Press Conference following the release of the first video.

Janay and Ray Rice at a Press Conference following the release of the first video.

Baltimore Ravens

This past weekend, TMZ released a video that showed Rice punching his fiancee inside of that casino’s elevator, her being knocked off of her feet, hitting the back of her head on a handrail, and hitting the floor, unconscious.  With that now out in the public to view, the NFL Commissioner announced that Ray Rice would be on an indefinite suspension and the Baltimore Ravens cut him from the team.

I don’t support domestic violence, whether it be physical and/or  mental cruelty; men beating their wives or wives beating their husbands. (Hey-that does happen unfortunately.  Check out the 1993 made for tv movie if you don’t believe me!)  My brother was raised that you don’t hit girls.  My husband was raised with that standard, too, and we’ve raised our own 4 sons with that rule.

What Ray Rice did was wrong.  He knows that and so does his wife.  They’ve gone through counseling, and I pray that their marriage can heal despite this incident receiving new attention thanks to TMZ and their need to drag an offense out into the public spotlight.

The NFL, in the past, would issue 1 or 2 game suspensions for players who were proved to have committed domestic violence acts upon their spouses.  If the charges were reduced or dropped, then penalties were reduced or dropped, accordingly.  In August, a new policy was announced by Commissioner Goodell: a 6 game ban, unpaid, for first time offenders.  For second-time offenders, possibly a life-time ban from the NFL.

The NFL saw that first video clip.  What did they think happened in the elevator to result in an unconscious woman being dragged out of it?  One of my son’s, when we discussed it, did say that maybe she had been drunk and passed out and maybe that’s why the NFL gave only a 2 game suspension to Rice.  If she had passed out due to over drinking, surmise it to say that perhaps the video would have shown Rice tenderly carrying his fiancee out of that elevator instead of the dragging method that he used.

I think that the indefinite suspension of Rice is harsh.  If the NFL has this new 6 game ban for first time offenders, than that is the punishment that should have been meted out to Rice.  With what has been now issued to him not only punishes him for perpetuity, it also punishes his family.  Hasn’t his wife been punished enough?  Now the income for her family has been dropped to nil.

People make mistakes and Ray Rice crossed a behavioral line that was a huge mistake.  He committed a crime against a woman that   promised to join him in marriage, and has since married.  He lives with that regret daily, especially with this new video release.  I think Commissioner Goodell should announce the indefinite suspension be for 6 games, and that any team in the NFL who is struggling this early in the season should hire Rice.  Janay Palmer Rice has publicly stated that she has forgiven her husband.  Why can’t the NFL?

Research acknowledgement for today’s blog: Michael Martinez and Priscilla Riojas, CNN, Wed., 9/10/14

My Ohio Vacation, or How I Lost my Child!!

I grew up in the Northwestern  Ohio city of Defiance, in the flat, farming area of the state.  I can identify soybean fields and corn fields with ease.  The phrase knee high by the 4th of July was burned into my brain! (Farmers want their corn to be that high if it’s going to be a good crop.)   Thanks to a huge glacier thousands of years ago,  riding bikes and hiking in this part of the state  are  an easy hobby to attempt for the outdoor enthusiasts;  no hills, not much anyhow, anywhere.

Corn!

Corn!

Soybean fields

Soybean fields

OH maze

I like to take some time in the summer to visit  my roots.  To visit  my parents, my brother and his wife and their  kids and the relatives  that still live in Ohio.   Dear husband’s mom and brother, and his wife and a married niece and a nephew also live in Ohio.   With our oldest having received his honorable discharge from his 4 year commitment to the United States Marine Corps and his moving to Athens, Ohio to attend Ohio University, this past week was the perfect time to take   our homeschooled youngest with me( youngest is 11 years old) for a week-long visit to Ohio.

We left Rolla on Monday morning at 8:30.  My quest to leave earlier was thwarted by a recalcitrant car battery in my chosen vehicle, husband’s go to work Cadillac.  After he charged and worked on the car, it started right up and we were off.  Driving past St. Louis’s downtown and the Arch, my Ohioan relatives and friends all asked me about the troubles in Ferguson, MO.  Some knew we had lived near there in a neighboring suburb.  One person joked that I had to drive through smoke as all of St. Louis was burning.  Thanks national media for making many across the country think that all of St. Louis was rioting and burning.
Missouri

Illinois

Across Illinois farm country we drove  east.  Living in South Central Missouri, where the Ozark Mountains begin, I tend to forget how flat the flat lands are!  It’s sort of nice to be able to see so far around one in all directions when driving cross country.  When we reached Terre Haute, Indiana(High Land in French, I informed the 11 year old) we had a lunch break and then on we drove, past Indianopolis and then, finally, we crossed the state line into Ohio.

OhioIndiana

The longest part of this drive was getting to Columbus, the state capital, and getting to Highway 33 which would lead us to our destination, Athens, Ohio.  Athens is near West Virginia and the land  is very hilly as it’s along part of the  Appalachian Mountains.  Husband and I are pleased that our son has chosen Ohio University.  It’s nice that our son has relatives right there and  he has it already set up with Grandma to do his laundry at her place;she’s been stocking up on the microwave popcorn!

My parents drove to Athens  from Defiance on Tuesday,  to give my oldest a lounge chair that they didn’t want anymore and he was glad to put it in his new apartment.  After a nice tour of Ohio University’s campus, a steak dinner with my parents, 2 of my sons, and my husband’s  family,  it was on to Defiance on Wednesday morning.

My dad, who does woodworking and house remodeling, wanted to drive north to communities near Wooster, Ohio to pick up wood stain he needed for a woodworking project, and he also wanted to take my sons and I to a restaurant, Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen, which is popular with Amish and non-Amish customers.  We programmed our GPS machines for Wooster  and off we went…my parents in their car, the 11 year old and I in the Cadillac, and my oldest in his Malibu.  We were  puzzled at first because  the GPS’s all had us head south into West Virginia! My  oldest son explained that in order to pick up Interstate 77 when leaving Athens, OH, the closest point to pick it up is in West Virginia, then take it north to your destination.  We stopped to get gas and then headed out, 3 cars caravanning to the Wooster, Ohio area.    West Virginia

25 minutes into our drive north, I asked my 11 year old a question.  I glanced back and assumed he was asleep under his sleeping bag.  He had been stretched out on the back seat with the sleeping bag over him when we stopped for gas in West Virginia.  I asked him another question and still got no response.  I decided to move the sleeping bag and when I did, I discovered that there  was no one in the back seat of the car!!!

Oh did I feel awful!  I knew that he must have gotten out of the car at the gas station back in West Virginia!!  I took the very next exit and using my cell phone, was able to relay to my parents and oldest son that I had accidentally left the 11 year old  at the gas station!!  My parents agreed to wait at that exit, as there were some small stores  nearby that they could explore, and my oldest son followed me back to the gas station.  I was able to use google on my cell phone and get the gas station’s phone number and call them.  They assured me that my son was in their store.  I told them I was on my way back to get him.

As I parked the car and ran into the store, I was expecting my son to be in tears or to be in an angry mood, but he had a big smile on his face!  He  gave me a tight hug and said, ” I knew you’d be back for me, Mom!  Don’t feel bad!”  I thanked the store employees for watching my son and asked my son if he wanted a treat.  “Beef Jerky” was his request and I bought him some.  Then we got back into our cars and drove back to the exit where my parents were waiting for us.   My Dad told my 11 year old  that from now on when traveling with me,  he should always hold my car keys at all rest stops, restaurants, gas stations, etc.!!

We made it to Wooster and the Amish area of Ohio.  We ate a delicious lunch at Mrs. Yoder’s.  We also stopped at a general store popular in the area, The Ashery, where my son picked out salt water taffy for a midweek treat.  He did manage to bring some of it back to Missouri for his older siblings to enjoy!  After a sudden thunderstorm and Amish buggies slowing our trip down a bit, we made it to Defiance by 7:00 that evening.

amish Ohio

The rest of our visit was very nice and it was good to see relatives.  I even was able to meet with some former highschool classmates for lunch one day-a very fun, and very talkative visit!

Sunday came and that meant it was time to drive back to Rolla, Missouri.  Our oldest drove back to Athens for his college classes would begin on Monday.  The youngest son and I listened to a radio preacher,  Pastor Bucus Sterling III at Kettering Baptist Church in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.   Pastor Sterling preached an excellent sermon from the book of Exodus about Moses being on the mountain, the Israelites getting doubtful that Moses would ever return, and their turning to Aaron for an idol to worship.  That sermon helped set the tone for a great day of travel; good weather, good roads, no accidents to slow us down.  We were able to return to Rolla at 5:45 that Sunday evening.

Lessons I learned from this trip are that family is so important.  Keep the lines of communication open via the phone, skype, facebook, but especially try to make the efforts to see loved ones in person, even if it can only be once a year.  When traveling with a child, make sure he or she hangs on to your car keys when stopping for gas, food, restroom breaks, sightseeing trips, etc.!!

 

 

 

A Death and Riots and Looting, in my Former Community

Readers of my blog may remember that my family moved to Rolla, Missouri 3 years ago, in June of 2011 due to my husband finding a new job here after a 16 month lay-off.  We moved to Rolla  from Florissant, Missouri, where we had lived for 19 years.  Florissant  is the largest suburb of North St. Louis County, 25 minutes north of the Gateway Arch, is what I usually told our relatives.

St. Louis's Gateway Arch

St. Louis’s Gateway Arch

Sunday night after we got home from a  Family Night at  Splashzone, hosted by our church, Greentree Christian, I turned on the news  to catch the weather report for Monday and I learned that Ferguson, Missouri, the suburb just to the south of Florissant, was having riots!  People were looting stores along West Florissant Ave.- a major thoroughfare that connects these two suburbs.  My husband and I were in utter shock at the scenes that were being shown on the tv.  We learned that a QT(QuikTrip for you non-Missourians,  is the most awesome gas station/convenience store ever known to man) was looted and set on fire and that when I awoke on Monday I learned that it had burned to the ground!  Thankfully, the employees saw the looters coming and were able to hide in a back room and then escape; they first  put on spare jackets they found in that back room to  hide the fact that they were wearing QT shirts, and then they  got out and ran to safety as the building was being set on fire!

The QT on West Florissant Ave., Ferguson, MO set on fire by looters.

The QT on West Florissant Ave., Ferguson, MO set on fire by looters.

QT

 

 

 

 

Why all of this mayhem, violence, and destruction?  It stemmed from the death of a black teenager, 18 year old  Michael Brown,  who lived in the neighboring suburb of Normandy, Missouri,  who was shot by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday, August 9th, at 2:15 pm.  There are conflicting accounts as to what exactly happened and St. Louis County Police have been called in to conduct the investigation for the Ferguson Police Department.   I also heard today  a report that the FBI has also been called in and that the US Justice Department will be keeping a watch on the investigation’s outcome.

A tragedy playing out in Ferguson, Missouri.  A community of 21,000, mostly middle-class Americans who work hard, want their children to be educated, for their children to grow up and reach their potential in life.  A community that was started in 1894 by a Mr. William B. Ferguson, as a train station for the Wabash Railroad.  In 1904, a streetcar line was installed that led from Ferguson to the city of St. Louis and this helped the train station town expand, becoming one of the first suburbs in St. Louis County.    A usually peaceful community, known for a really nice Farmer’s Market, some great parks, Victorian houses, and now known for utter violence and chaos.

I got onto facebook last night and the posts from friends who live in Ferguson were sad and scary.  Many had  a sleepless night. Merely one or two or three blocks from West Florissant Ave., where the looters were doing their evil deeds,  are many neighborhoods, inhabited by innocent citizens who could hear the looters, the gunshots being fired, and then the police sirens and the  helicopters flying overheard, shining lights into their backyards.  Florissant friends were on facebook offering to let friends in Ferguson, if they felt it was safe to even leave their homes, to come and stay with them overnight.  Friends in St. Charles County, where the Missouri River meets the mighty Mississippi, were offering their homes,too,  as havens from the violence and danger.

With the dawn of Monday morning, the damaged buildings were like an open wound in the community; broken glass lying in the stores, and across their thresholds, goods ransacked and gone, the QT smoldering, even the WalMart that I used to shop at was looted, probably only an 8 minute drive from our first home in Florissant!

Sunday night, Aug. 10th, protesters yelling at police, prior to the riots and looting.

Sunday night, Aug. 10th, protesters yelling at police, prior to the riots and looting.

One Ferguson business wasn't harmed as the owner and employees put up a human barricade.

One Ferguson business wasn’t harmed as the owner and employees put up a human barricade.

 The QT on the morning of Monday, Aug. 11th, Ferguson, MO

The QT on the morning of Monday, Aug. 11th, Ferguson, MO

I feel very sad and disheartened by all of what has transpired these past 2 days.  Someone posted on facebook a passage from the bible, 2Timothy 3: 1-5: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.  And from such people  turn away!”  I read that passage  and thought it an apt description of those that decided to take advantage of what was meant to be a peaceful vigil on Sunday night, in honor of Michael Brown and turn it into the worst possible thing: to turn it into a night of violence, selfishness, and destruction.  Even Michael Brown’s family issued a statement pleading with  the looters to stop and go home, but that plea fell on deaf ears.

Tonight, a meeting was held in Ferguson with religious leaders in the community, the local NAACP chapter, and concerned citizens.  I didn’t watch the meeting as it wasn’t aired live to Rolla area tv stations as it was to those in St. Louis area proper, so I will have to tune in to the news tonight for reactions to the meeting.  I did learn that the Galleria, an upscale St. Louis Mall shut down early tonight due to fights breaking out there!

Please pray for Ferguson, Missouri not just for today but for the days to come.  Pray for the family of slain teenager, Michael Brown, that they will be able to get the answers that they are seeking about their son’s tragic death.  Pray for the Ferguson police officer who shot Michael.  Pray for the mayor, city council, religious leaders, civil rights leaders.  Pray for the law enforcement employees from all over the St. Louis region who have been called in for back up to help Ferguson’s police department.  For all of these groups, pray for wisdom, discernment,protection, a spirit of community to grow again, for there to be brotherly love again, and forgiveness, and for peace for Ferguson, Missouri.  Thank you.

Women praying in Ferguson, MO

Women praying in Ferguson, MO

Sign at a protest in Ferfuson, MO

Sign at a protest in Ferguson, MO

I Survived Preteen 2 Camp

July 13th arrived and that afternoon, with my 11 year old and 16 year old sons in tow, we boarded one of  our church’s vans for a 91 mile drive north, then east, to High Hill Camp, in High Hill, MO.   I and the 16 year old had volunteered to work at the Preteen 2(fancy wording meaning 5th & 6th graders) Camp.  As soon as we arrived  and I climbed out of the van, I began to think to myself, “I’m getting to old for this!”    High Hill

Fortunately, I was assigned to a bunk room in McKinzie Hall with a friend from Florissant, as our former church there had also sent campers and adults whom I knew.  That was a nice surprise and those Florissant 5th and 6th graders remembered me when I had taught them Sunday School when they were 5 year olds.  It made me feel old to now see them at ages 10 and 11, but that’s life.  It  moves on year by year and kids grow.  I am sure they noticed the grey hair that I sported which I didn’t have when they were 5! That grey hair also got me pulled into a Scavenger Hunt of sorts when the camp’s dean for the week, challenged the campers to find the camp staff who had taught him when he was in Sunday School at his church in Wentzville, MO.  I had to turn many a puzzled campers away with a No! when they asked me if I had been the dean’s teacher.

As I got my bunk ready and my gear unpacked, I kept thinking, “I’m getting too old for this!”  At bedtime, in trying to get 11 girls to stop giggling and talking, as it was now nearing 10:45 pm and they had to get up at 7:00 am, I kept thinking, “I’m getting too old for this!”  The 11 girls in my dorm noticed that the next door bathrooms had been redone with nicely, newer tiles than our bathroom and reluctantly we had to tell our girls that they couldn’t shower in the newer bathroom.  Gritting my teeth, I understood why they wanted to use the newer shower stalls. As I looked at the showers we’d have to use all week, not in terrible shape but showing their age, I thought, “I’m getting too old for this!”

High Hill's main building

High Hill’s main building

Coffee readily flowed for the staffers as soon as we were ready for the dayand that  helped get Monday off to a great start.  Little events all week helped to make me realize that maybe I’m not too old to help out at a Preteen Camp.  My two co-leaders and I were assigned to Family #4.  My two co-leaders  were much younger than I and they tried to be all buddy-buddy with the 11 campers assigned to us; 7 girls and 4 boys  I was a bit sterner with our group, as they needed to stay on task and on time as we had a lot of activities to complete each day, completing some before lunch and some before the swimming break, and some before dinner.  I noticed that by Wednesday that my 2 younger camp staffers were growing more irritated by the immaturity of some of our 11 campers and that the buddy-buddy, hey I’m cool act was not the way to work with or motivate 5th and 6th graders.  When one of our girls injured her leg during the traditional faculty hunt( camp staffers donned black clothing, hats, some even put black marks under their eyes like NFL players do, then we go and hide somewhere at the camp and when it’s dark the campers are let loose to find us) and my two younger camp staffers were no where to be found due to their hiding skills, so it was I who our kids turned to to help the girl make it to the nurse.  I stayed with her and helped to ease her pain, and give her comfort as the nurse made phone calls to discuss with her guardian as to what she would want us to do: give medicine and wait until morning to see how her camper felt, or arrive in the morning to take her home to see the family doctor.  By the next morning, I noticed that the kids who had first wanted to sit with the two cool staffers on my Family #4 group were now wanting to sit by me.  That made me feel not so out of it, and a bit pleased; guess the word got out how I stayed with their hurt fellow camper.

The meals at camp were very good-they hired a full-time  trained chef this summer, as well as another cook.  I hope the kids noticed the satisfying and tasty food that was prepared for them.  The music was fine-geared to preteens and the high school and college-aged camp staffers.  Me with my grey hair, didn’t know some of the songs and decided to clap along to those and rest my voice.  The lead band guy looked like a cross between actors James Franco and Joshua Bowman-an actor on ABC’s Revenge, so of course, some of the 6th grade girls kept making excuses to talk to him all week.   I sent my college age daughter a text about that fact and she sent back a text with an LOL-she said that’s usually what happens at camp, the girls all falling for the boy band leader.

High Hill's Lake, but to me, it's really a large pond.

High Hill’s Lake, but to me, it’s really a large pond.

There was also cases of puppy love developing around me as for some unknown reason, the 4 boys in my Family #4, had been dubbed the “cutest” by some of the boy-crazy girl campers and I noticed one girl in particular, hanging around the Fab Four when it was the daily 3:00-5:00 activity break time.  I just shook my head as to that girl’s antics.  She was quite a few inches taller than those boys but it didn’t prevent her from  flirting like mad with our group of 11 year old boys.

The weather was wonderfully cool for our week: 70s and low 80s during the daytime, low 50s at night.  Unheard of for Missouri in July, as it’s usually hot and humid.  I was glad that I had packed a jacket and had reminded my own 11 year old and 16 year old to also pack jackets.

I got to see my 16 year old son in action.  He did well working  with his Family #10.   He willingly led the group in two songs.  One was when he was mockingly punished for leaving his water bottle lay around camp-at lunch he had to perform I’m a Little Teapot for the campers, who when he told them he didn’t know the words, they all enthusiastically jumped in and helped him sing the song!  The second time he was helping lead a fun song, The Banana Song, when another staffer was mockingly being punished for leaving his name tag lay around the camp.  I saw my son in action as he easily got 150 some kids to get quiet, took charge of the song, and then led them through it with all of the song’s motions.  I also saw my son take his turn with one of the boy’s in his Family group who had asthma, help to cheer the boy up at various times, as he had to leave activities for his treatments, which he didn’t want to always take.

There was a young woman at the camp, a missionary to Haiti.  Her daily presentations about Haiti, the people, and the minister and his wife whom she works with were all fascinating.  Our campers got to make a toy like the Haitian kids do.  Since they don’t have access to toy stores they will take used water bottles, a nail, string, a stick, and 4 water bottle caps and make a car that they can pull along behind them with the string.  I hope that our campers remember at home when they see their water bottle car that their lives in the US are vastly different from the children in Haiti.  I hope that they will remember the money we raised for the missionary’s mission and that perhaps one day, they will be the ones to listen to the urgings God places in their lives to go and serve others, to show them love, and to not be afraid to tell them the truth of the gospel.

Am I getting too old for this?  Too old for camping with a bunch of 10-11 year olds?  Almost old enough to being their grandparent?  Part of me says yes, part of me says no.  I do know that I enjoy teaching kids and helping them learn more about their faith.  Perhaps I will return next year and if I do, I know I’ll survive it all over again.

Early Childhood Classes for Rolla Public Schools?

RHS Bulldog 2During this past Spring, I was sent an email from the Rolla School District’s  Superintendent’s office.  My email address was included in a longish list, and I was asked to consider participating in a review of the school district’s CSIP.  Comprehensive School Improvement Plan is a way for a school district to go over goals that the district wants to improve upon and/or to implement.  How I got on this list, I don’t have any idea and a CSIP?  I had to actually google what that meant.  I got my teaching degree in the dark ages of 1987 and haven’t been in a classroom since the spring of 1991 when motherhood called me away,  so this terminology was new to me.  I was curious about the topics that this CSIP would cover so  away I went to the meeting.

As soon as I entered the district’s building, I was ushered to the room where the school board holds its meetings.   I was one of 7 ladies, and we simply went around the room, giving our opinions on the different items that were part of the district’s CSIP.  Two gentleman from the KC area presented the CSIP to us, and they marked down our comments.  They explained that they worked for a company that traveled all over the state of Missouri, conducting discussions and gathering data for school districts and their specific CSIPs.   This meeting took about an hour and when all was said and done, I was glad that I gave my input.  After all, how many moms who have homeschooled their children for preschool and grades K-7th for  part of their educations were on these CSIP opinion-seeking missions?

Fast forward to July 3rd and I received another email from the Superintendent’s office.  This new message thanked me for participating in the CSIP .  The email went on to inform me that several times now, throughout the Rolla School District and community,  a process has been presented to bring Early Childhood programming into the district.  It’s not up and running for this coming school year, but the district would like to have a community-wide approved issue on the April 2015 ballot.  Hopefully, by the beginning of the 2017 school year, Early Childhood will be offered.  The email included some video clips for me to view pertaining to community input about Early Childhood Education that has been discussed and planned for  since 2007.  An online survey was also included for me to give my opinions.

Winslow Homer's Crack the Whip

There are two plans being looked at to bring this about.  1.  Build a new building that will house all of the Early Childhood Education classes, from 4 year olds to kindergarten.  2.  Turn one of the existing elementary schools into the Early Childhood building.  Then the other two elementary schools will house grades 1-3.  The 4th graders will be moved to Rolla Middle School, and will be there with the 5th and 6th graders.  The 7th graders will be moved to Rolla Junior High to join the 8th graders.  The 9th graders will then move to Rolla High.    Both of these plans will cost money and will involve voters input.

While I appreciate the effort to look at Early Childhood Education,  the fact remains that it is not a mandatory part of education for a child.  One can design and build a fabulous building but that doesn’t mean that all of the families in the Rolla School District with preschool children will sign them up.  I looked into preschool classes for our oldest child  when we lived in St. Louis County, and paying $80-$90 a month was an outrageous fee for our family’s budget.  I therefore did preschool activities on my own with our child, and also with his siblings, when they were in that preschool age.   You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink, is a saying that comes to mind when I read about an entity, here a school district, attempting to get involved in spending a lot of money for something that may not be as successful as they imagine it will be.

Home Art Class

Home Art Class

I happened to watch the school board candidates on the local cable access channel when they were running for reelection.  One of the incumbent’s mentioned this new program and that in pursuing it, children who get to experience preschool turn out better than those who don’t.  I would like to remind this gentleman that my kids, who never stepped foot into a preschool, have all done very well in the Rolla district, and the oldest three are now pursuing higher education at various colleges.  To insinuate that children who don’t go to preschool are doomed, I find that reasoning faulty.

I admit, I am looking at this issue through my homeschooling lenses.  I think one of the reasons homeschooling works is the low student to teacher ratio.  A teacher with only 10-15 students in a class can probably get a lot more teaching of a new concept done than a teacher with 25-30 students.  I propose, that instead of focusing on Early Childhood Education that the Rolla School District make a bolder move.  Add more classrooms  at the elementary schools and the middle school.  Add more teachers to grades K-7 and  lower the student to teacher ratios in these grades.  I would expect that the district would see an increase of students in those grades achieving more  in content and understanding of important concepts in core subjects.  Those students would have a better ability to begin navigating their way through Junior High, High School, career paths, and then on to Higher Education, if that is the student’s goal.  I would much rather have my tax dollars go to supporting a plan like that, where the majority of school-aged children in the district will be attending these schools, than putting my tax money into a new Early Childhood Education plan that cannot possibly cause all of the preschoolers of Rolla, MO to attend.

Tearjerkers, 1939 vs 2014

** This post contains spoilers**

My college student daughter, who is home for part of the summer, suggested on Friday morning that she, her twin sisters, 14 year olds,  and I,  go and see the  new tearjerker  movie, The Fault in Our Stars.  I inwardly groaned at this suggestion.  I really didn’t want to spend my evening watching a movie in a theatre full of teen girls sniffling and crying.  I also didn’t want to get caught up in the plot and find myself sniffling and crying!  However, college daughter’s idea prevailed, so after supper, with tissues in our purses, we traveled to Waynesville Cinema 8.  (I don’t understand why Rolla’s Forum Theatre can’t seem to get the newest movies thus, losing our movie going dollars to Waynesville.  That may have to be a blog topic for another day!)

The Fault in our Stars

I settled in my seat as  the movie began.   The plot was pretty simple.  Hazel Grace Lancaster is 18  years old and has been battling cancer since she was a child.  First she had thyroid cancer but then it metastasized into her lungs.  There is no cure but she has been on an experimental drug and so far, no new tumors and the tumors she has aren’t growing.  She lives with a portable oxygen tank and a breathing tube under her nose.   Her parents worry that she is depressed so they urge her to attend a support group for teens living with cancer that meets at a local church.  Reluctantly, Hazel Grace attends where she meets her future love, Augustus Waters.  He, having beaten osteosarcoma  in his leg and wears  a prosthetic leg,  attends the support group to be there for his  friend, Isaac, who is living with retinoblastoma which will leave him blind.

As I sat there and watched these teen characters dealing with cancer, life, and death, I kept comparing it to another tearjerker movie made in 1939 that also dealt with love, cancer, life, and death.  That film was  Dark Victory, which starred Bette Davis in a tour de force performance.  Davis was nominated for Best Actress at that year’s Academy Awards and Dark Victory was also nominated for Best Picture, but being that the year was 1939, they didn’t stand a chance due to a film about a tough southern belle fighting for her land and trying to figure out who she really loves as the Yankees invade the South during the Civil War.

Dark Victory

In Dark Victory, Bette is Judith Traherne,  a rich party girl.  She loves to watch her  horses compete at the races, she loves to spend her money on parties, and she has a lot of friends in this monied set.  She has also left a trail of broken hearts around her.  (Ronald Reagan plays one of her pals,  a lovable drunk!)  Judith begins to have chronic headaches so she  sees her doctor who recommends that she see a Dr. Steele, who is young and brilliant about brain problems.  It doesn’t hurt that he is quite handsome, too.  Dr. Steele determines that Judith has a tumor and needs brain surgery to treat it.  During the surgery, he discovers that the tumor is malignant and nothing can be done for Judith, that she has 10 months left to live.  The doctors decide not to tell Judith, but Dr. Steele does admit the truth to Judith’s friend, Ann.   Judith  accidentally gets a look at her medical file and finds out the truth.  She is angry that Dr. Steele hadn’t told her but did tell Ann.  Judith decides to follow the bad advice of eat, drink, and be merry for who knows what tomorrow will bring.   One evening she runs into Dr. Steele, who gets her alone and scolds her for this type of living.  He advises her to find peace with the diagnosis so that she can face death with dignity.  She realizes he is right.  Judith and Dr. Steele also realize that they love each other and wed, deciding to live each day as it comes,  knowing that death will take Judith sooner than later.  When Dr. Steele is invited to speak at a medical convention about  new ways to treat brain diseases, Judith urges him to go.  She knows how hard he’s worked and been looking forward to speaking.  She  doesn’t reveal to him that her eyesight is failing her.  As he drives away in the taxi to the airport, Judith bravely takes to her bed to prepare to  die with dignity.

I compared and contrasted the two films in my mind.  Dark Victory has Judith for the main character: a strong, independent young woman. The Fault in our Stars has Hazel Grace for the main character, not yet in her twenties, with strong opinions, she is still  dependent on her parents for clothing, food, shelter, and paying the onerous medical bills.  In both of these plots, the main characters fall in love.  Only in Dark Victory  is a true commitment made with a marriage.   That one little point keeps me from liking the 2014 movie.

How refreshing it would have been for the author, John Green, to have Hazel Grace and Augustus  marry one another! To wait to consummate their love for one another!  They could have had a simple ceremony in front of a judge, and then  lived in the basement at the Water’s home, since Augustus had turned it into a “cool” apartment-like abode.  Teenage pregnancy rates don’t need anymore encouragement than they already get from the entertainment industry.  Sadly, a better plot point was thrown out the window to go with a perceived societal  idea that teens can’t wait to jump into bed with one another.

On the way home, my daughters and I were surprised that we didn’t sniffle and cry like we thought we would.  I said that I found the plight of the parents in the film more touching.  Watching these parents bravely be there for their dying kids, especially a flashback scene to when Hazel Grace almost died at the age of 11,  got to me.  The scene where Hazel Grace and Augustus shared a passionate series of kisses at the Anne Frank House struck my twin daughters as “awkward” and weird how the surprised bystanders visiting the Frank House started clapping.

Dark Victory was originally a play written by George Emerson Brewer, Jr. and Bertram Bloch.   As I mentioned earlier in my post, The Fault in our Stars was a book written by John Green.  Dark Victory was labeled as a Woman’s Picture when it came to the box office in 1939 and I’m pretty sure The Fault in our Stars was labeled as a vehicle to pull in the teenage girl audience.

Dark Victory will be airing tonight on Turner Classic Movies at 1:30 am CST, so if you are able, set up your dvr machine to record it.  That’s what I plan on doing and I’ll let my daughters watch it with me, popcorn to eat  in a giant bowl, and let them see a similar plot and how Hollywood and the social mores of 1939 handled it.

 

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