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The New Era Paper
Sweet Home, Oregon
November 21, 2012     The New Era Paper
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November 21, 2012

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ti Ta, ra - November 21,2012 COMMUNITV OPINION Page 5 LETTERS TO Tile 00J)ITOR In support for Classifieds Editor: It's that time of year when we look back and extend gratitude for what we appreciate and are thank- ful for. I am writing this letter on be- half of the classified staff of the Sweet Home School District. Re- cently retired from my position as a resource teacher for the past 18 years, and due to the nature of my job, I have worked very closely with many classified staff. The vast majority of the peo- ple I worked with have been hard working, very committed to the children our school district serves, often self sacrificing in their efforts to see that children's needs were met. Children like the 8-year-old boy who wrote an essay - "The thing that makes me the happiest in the world is the backpack of food I get to take home over the week- end." And like the children who would prefer to remain in school over long holidays where they are warm, fed and in a predictable envi- ronment. Not to imply that teachers are not there for students: They are. But teachers are stretched thin; the classified staff, who work closely with large numbers of children, play a vital part in their lives often forming close supportive bonds. But these folks have needs of their own they are struggling to meet. Some work two or three jobs. One lady I know vorks three-plus jobs and is in college in the medi- cal field because she can't make it on her classified wages. Another woman with three teenage sons works three jobs tak- ing college classes as she can. Her youngest son asks her why she is always gone. She only takes dental insurance (no medical) as her sons all will need wisdom teeth removed in the near future. (Imagine - three teenage boys and no medical insur- ance - Scary!). Both are excellent assistants, but the district will eventually lose them as these ladies depart to find employment more sustainable. I could go on, but space is limited. An ironic point is that a large percentage of classified grew up in Sweet Home and now have chil- dren or grandchildren attending lo- cal schools. They reside in Sweet Home and are the core of the com- munity. The district's mission state- ment is: "We provide a safe and caring learning community where individuals have the opportunity to discover knowledge and skills nec- essary to reach their full potential in a changing world." Well, these classified are the fruit of SHSD in the last few de- cades. I believe we have excellent teachers, but without our dedicated classified (office, maintenance, transportation ... included) we would be unable to function at all. Yes, school districts across the state are struggling financially and as a well known poet once said "a hard rain is falling down", but should our classified be taking the brunt of it? Collectively, they are feeling demoralized and unvalued. Our classified staff is an integral part of our local school district. But if we are to continue to have highly qual- ified, committed people, they need to receive wages and insurance that they can subsist on. Otherwise, they will go else- where and our children, the future of this community and many oth- ers, will be the real losers which will lead to a long, resounding spi- ral downward... So, from one with a unique perspective, I say thank you to the classified staff for their hard work and dedication and I hope the fu- ture will be brighter. Jeanie Perry Sweet Home Thanks to voters for their support Editor: First I want to thank all who voted for me. I enjoyed meeting so many of you and sharing your concerns about the future of our district. Next I want to thank the people and organizations who en- dorsed the campaign especially the co-chairs of The Independent Party of Oregon, OSEA, SEIU 503 and the nomination from the Working Families Party. I appreciate the favorable reports about me and my campaign from The Sweet Home New Era, Lebanon Express, The Molalla Pioneer and the other me- dia outlets. I continue to believe it's time for a new direction in Senate Dis- trict 9 and there are thousands of voters who share that belief. Thanks, and best wishes to all. Steve Frank Stayton 'Rigorous' school needed in area Editor: The Oct. 12 announcement of the closing of St. Mary's School prompted school families to take action and form a committee called People for Academically Rigorous Catholic Education in the Mid- Valley. The objective of PACEM is to provide perpetual access to local, academically-rigorous, Catholic education for all mid-valley fami- lies, Catholic and non-Catholic, with a special emphasis on making education affordable and respon- sive to the needs of our communi- ties. A parent meeting held on Oct. 24 called upon both past and pres- ent St. Mary's School families to provide feedback on how to revital- ize the school. PACEM consulted with Corvallis, Lebanon and Sweet Home Catholic church pastors to propose a regional area school. St. Mary's School is well- known for its rigorous academics. Many generations of our school's graduates have excelled and taken leadership roles in every facet in our community and across the United States. Students are re- quired 'to perform service projects to improve their community. St. Mary's students are safe at school. Albany Police Department statistics show no calls for school violence from 2011 to date. If you are a St. Mary's School alumni or a community member that supports Catholic education, please call Jo Ann Yonemura at (541) 928-3462 or e-mail PACEM- committee@comcast.net. We would like to hear from you. Jo Ann Yonemnra PACEM Action Committee Gratitude a wonderful thing in a world of gifts By Rich Lowry Eventually, social science works its way around to confirm- ing eternal verities. So it is with gratitude. An article in a psychologi- cal journal a few years ago noted that "throughout history, religious, theological and philosophical trea- tises have viewed gratitude as inte- gral to well-being." Psychology has recently worked to quantify the wisdom of the ages and confirmed -- sure enough -- it was correct. A raft of recent research has established that grateful people are happier people. They are less de- pressed and less Stressed. They are less likely to envy others and more likely to want to share. They even sleep better. As the journal article put it, empirical work "has suggested gratitude is as strongly correlated with well-being as are other posi- tive traits, and has suggested that this relationship is causal." Gratitude constitutes what philosopher David Hume called a "calm passion." It doesn't have the theatrical potential of anger and hatred, or courage and sacrifice. Nonetheless, there's a reason it has been consid- ered central to the good life and a good society by all major religions and by thinkers stretching from Cicero ("Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others") to Oprah ("When- ever you can't think of something to be grateful for, remember your breath"). Gratitude acknowledges our dependence on others and the debt we owe because of it. Grateful peo- ple want, somehow, to return the favor of their undeserved windfall. It is a sentiment that, in the jargon, is "pro-social." A leading figure in its study, Michael McCullough of the Uni- versity of Miami, maintains that it binds us to others beyond the ties of family and of commercial trans- actions. Gratitude is at the root of pa- triotism, of the impulse to pre- serve and improve our patrimony. In a culture that tends to celebrate self-glorification, gratitude points us beyond our own demands and discontents. It inclines us to see all around us a word of gifts. What did we do to inherit a country that is free and prosper- ous? To deserve Charlie Parker or Mark Twain? To build the Golden Gate Bridge or the Chrysler Building? To measure up to the beauties of the Catholic mass or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir? Or simply to prove worthy of traffic lights and potable water? Without gratitude, William E Buckley Jr. wrote, "We are left with the numbing, benumbing thought that we owe nothing to Plato and Aristotle, nothing to the proph- ets who wrote the Bible, nothing to the generations who fought for freedoms activated in the Bill of Rights." He called for "a rebirth of gratitude for those who have cared for us, living and, mostly, dead. The high moments of our way of life are their gifts to us." John Adams captured the grate- ful attitude when he acknowledged the hardships of this vale of tears while celebrating it all the same (if in anachronistic language): "Griefs upon griefs! Disappointments upon disappointments. What then? This is a gay, merry world notwithstand- ing." Rich Lowry is editor of the Na- tional Review. 1 Notes From page 4 They did this by not getting carried away when things were good. They didn't take flyers on ambitious projects and that caution has paid off. If you have any doubt, look over the border to the south. Along the same lines, I'm also quite thankful for the police officers who've stuck with us through tough times. Thanks guys and gals. Gentle breezes and clear skies. With rain pouring down this week, this one seems far-fetched. But when we look around and see what the rest of the nation is experienc- ing, it's a little sobering and well worth re- flecting on the fact that we rarely get hur- ricanes - or tornadoes, or blizzards or any of the other nasty weather conditions that 24-hour television faithfully reminds us of. Frankly, when a 30-mph breeze seems like a brisk wind, that should tell us something. The Election. OK, I'm a little disap- pointed that fiscally conservative folks didn't get more of an upper hand, simply because I don't see a bright future for us is we keep up this reckless deficit spending. I'm also conflicted about some of Presi- dent Obama's foreign and domestic policy choices in his first term, so I'm wondering what's before us now. But rather than raging at the citizenry who apparently don't share my concerns, ancl the opposition for blowing the opportu- nity before them by ignoring large constit- uencies with whom they should have built bridges, instead coming across as cold and calculating while our president managed to come through as warm and fuzzy, I close with this thought: If I were to narrow my focus to one lesson personally learned in this election, it's my duty to pray. I'm not talking about imprecatory (call- ing down judgment, etc.) prayers because people I didn't think should be elected won. I'm talking about praying for our lead- ers - our government - whether I voted for them or not, and whether they asked for my prayers or not. Out of curiosity, I checked and found at least four passages in the Bible that spe- cifically talk about the necessity of praying for rulers. I won't trot them out here, but they are all there, easily located via a Google search ("pray" plus "rulers"). It's sometimes difficult to do so, particularly if I have a problem with the agenda being pursued, but when things are bad, that's when we should be praying the hardest - especially if God's told us to. So for President Obama, all the congres- sional and legislative representatives, our county commissioners, our city councilors, and all the staffers who call the shots on how we live our lives - whether you think you need it or not, this Thanksgiving Day, my prayers are with you.