From: Sandy Feindt
To: Katherine Dunn
I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading the supplement, Seniors in Stride, in The Harford County Sun July 7. I read it from cover to cover and, quite frankly, got tired just thinking about these people and their commitment to stayingin shape.
As I am approaching my 40th birthday this month, I mustadmit that I'm not in good physical shape, mainly because I've become lazy in some of my habits. I would certainly like to enjoy a long and productive life, and these people seem to have the right formula for that.
Your coverage of this event has given me the incentive tomake some changes in my lifestyle so that I might be able to keep going for many years to come.
P.S. The photograph on the back cover by Garo Lachinian was priceless.
SECTION HAD OLYMPIC SPIRIT
From: Dorry Bielecki
To: Katherine Dunn
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw my copy of the July 7 issue of The Harford County Sun, with a great picture of Anna and Pas Romagna taken at the Senior Sports Classic in Syracuse.
Then, to discover the supplement with such interesting and well-written reports and wonderful photos, was areal treat.
You caught the true spirit of Senior Olympics. There is no reason to give up sports as one ages unless a physical disability demands it. Fitness is important throughout one's life span, but especially in later years. It not only keeps one supple and active physically, but the mental attitude and capability of a fit senior citizen are so refreshing.
I speak from experience -- I will be 65 years old on Aug. 31, have been blessed with good health, have participated in Senior Olympics for two years, won a few golds and had a great time participating in the games.
I would like to commend you, as afine reporter, for your interest and a wonderful presentation.
APPALLED AT SNOBBISHNESS
From: Sheridan J. Kamberger
I am appalled at the snobbishness and ignorance of the Bel Air area parentswho so vehemently oppose the redistricting of their children to Route 40 corridor schools.
As a 1991 graduate of Edgewood High School,I can argue firsthand that I have received the best education Harford County has to offer. I have had excellent teachers who have more than adequately prepared me for college.
As a student at EHS, my SATscores averaged 1160. That's almost 200 points higher than the average Fallston High School student. May I also add that I was not even in the top 10 percent of my class.
The Catholic University of America, a highly competitive school, also seems to believe that I have been well-educated -- I have received both music and academic scholarships from this institution. I do not mean to brag, I am only trying toemphasize the fact that at EHS I received the best education I couldhave gotten anywhere -- one that could not have been beaten by Bel Air, C. Milton Wright, North Harford or even Fallston high schools.
The Board of Education proposes to build 15 new schools in six years. In six years, I may very well be living and working in Harford County. I think it is stupid and selfish to raise what may soon be my taxes just so your children can grow up in a rich, white, sheltered environment, when they can receive just as good an education, along with a more diverse atmosphere, at the Route 40 schools.
THANKS FOR JULY 4HELP
From: Benny C. Walker
President, Bel Air Independence DayCommittee Inc.
As a lifelong resident of Bel Air, I have participated in many Fourth of July celebrations over the years: as a wide-eyed child watching the parade on the old Main Street route with my parents, as a member of the Bel Air High School marching band, and as a father bringing out my own children to the day's events. This year I was given the opportunity to head the committee that manages to keep this grand Bel Air tradition alive, the Bel Air Independence Day Committee.
On behalf of the entire committee, I would like to express our appreciation for the support we received this year. With the financial assistance of service clubs, the Town of Bel Air, corporate sponsors and the Bel Air business community, the Bel Air Independence Day Committee provides the organizational framework to coordinate the various events conducted each year.
Often we tend to emphasize the financial patrons of our program, and indeed without their dollars noevent could take place. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize as well those who volunteered their time, energy and talents to our cause: Grey Shillinger, a former committee member, again provided invaluable assistance in the set-up and field arrangements; Tania Benfield, a graphics illustrator, supplied parade signs, posters and artwork; Mark Plakatoris, who assisted the vendor coordinator and theparade co-chairman; and finally the committee members themselves, whose efforts provided a day of events we can look back on with pride.
All of us on the committee hope the community enjoyed this year's program and we look forward to seeing you again next year.
From: Linda J. Gregory
I read the two articles in June 30 The Harford County Sun concerning the panic of residents in the Abingdon and Bel Air area.
It is very sad to see the reaction of these residents to the mere thought of redistricting. Theuproar is not about property values or "sense of community." It is very obviously racial and filled with fear at being forced to associate with "lesser" people. If these parents would truly examine their hearts they would know this is the truth.
I am not a perfect person,but I do try to always become a better person. So many of the lessons I have learned and grown by have been taught to me by my children.
They go to school and socialize with a very broad spectrum of people. If the children from Abingdon and Bel Air were set free from their tightly guarded boundaries, their horizons, friendships and view ofthe world would greatly expand, and most probably for the better.
My daughter will be a senior at Aberdeen High School this year. She is a member of the National Honor Society, co-editor of next year's yearbook, a cheerleader and has been vice president of her class for the past two years.
During her sophomore year she saw a yearbook from a school in the northern part of the county. She was aghast. She asked her friend, who is Asian, how she could stand to go to a school with so little diversity in the people.
I believe there were five black students and two Asian students.
My daughter loves meeting new and different people and learning about them. She is in Mexico nowwith a group led by her Spanish teacher and was in Spain last summer. She goes out of her way at home to greet new people in school or inour neighborhood to make them feel welcome.
All children have to make decisions about who will be their friends from the good and the bad people to whom they are exposed.
If children are allowed to explore friendships with children form all races, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds early in life, they have a much better chance of living a rich, full life and not one stifled by their parents fears.
The earlier they are able to make these decisions the better-equipped they will be as adults to make the tougher decisions and to becomeleaders in our communities. Communities that are made up of all types of people, who deserve to be fairly represented and respected.
SENIOR SPORTS SECTION GREAT
From: Tom Coyle
I want to commend Kathy Dunn and Garo Lachinian for their outstanding coverage of the Senior Sports Classic conducted last week in Syracuse, N.Y., and reported in the July 7 issue of The Harford County Sun.
That they were able to meet with us individually is an accomplishment in itself, because the activities were conducted at sites located all over the city and not always at the scheduled times.
I hope this articlewill encourage others 55 years and older to get in condition and enter the Maryland Senior Sports Classic, to be conducted at Towson State University Oct. 10 through Oct. 12.
The 17 activities provide a variety of ways to maintain a high level of physical fitness. Talkingto some of the participants is an experience in itself. The man who recently tried to become the oldest to climb Mount Everest, for instance, is quite an athlete, despite the fact that he didn't quite make it to the top. There were many others, men and women, older and younger than I, who have very interesting activities scheduled.
The participants in the Maryland Senior Sports Classic are diverse in background and encourage others to join the games.
Kathy's article and Garo's pictures emphasize the importance of training and conditioning.They did a great job.
I hope The Sun continues its coverage and encouragement of these activities. We hope to see more Harford County participants in the next Maryland Senior Sports Classic.
20/20 PLAN IS 'BLACKMAIL'
From: Samuel B. Fielder III
I would like to take the time to thank all the local and state elected officials for their support in defeating Gov. (William Donald) Schaeferand his 20/20 Commission legislation. Without your support, we couldnever have prevailed.
Unfortunately, Gov. Schaefer does not except defeat gracefully. The governor has decided his 20/20 program is what he wants and Maryland is going to get it. He is trying to force the local governments to adopt some version of the 20/20. If they don't, he is threatening to withhold state tax dollars.
To the average citizen, this seems like blackmail, considering that the governor is threatening to withhold our tax dollars. But this is not blackmail, this is politics. We must rise to the occasion and protect our individual rights and local individuality.
A friend of mine once went to the bishop of his church to complain about the new priest. The bishoptold him that he was a parishioner there before the new priest arrived and would be there after the priest was gone. That is the way I feel about Gov. Schaefer. This is my home and my family farm, and I plan on being here long after the governor is gone.
I would like to take this time to address the 20/20 issue. The 20/20 program is nothing more than a way to get people to move back into the cities, especially Baltimore. We all know that Gov. Schaefer is committed to revitalizing Baltimore, but at what cost? Are we going to make zoning laws so strict that our own children will be forced to raise their familiesin the city because affordable housing will be non-existent in the counties?
I don't want to have to tell my grandchildren the reason they have to live in the confines of the city is because of our failure to protect the property rights of the individual.
SUPPORT ART EDUCATION
From: Michael Korczynski Jr.
In his letter to The Harford County Sun, July 14, Carl D. Rogers of Joppa stated that funding for art educators "does little for the school system except cost the taxpayer." Clearly, the efforts of many Harford County citizens -- parents, students, educators and government officeholders -- demonstrate disagreement with his position.
Over the past years, thousands of hours of effort have been expended to nurture support for this important issue and to keep it in the minds of our elected officials. Letter-writing campaigns have been mounted, meetings have been held with public officials, studies have been completed, and presentations have been made to the Harford County Council and to the board ofeducation.
So why are so many citizens concerned about an issue that "does little for the school system," and why are they sacrificingtheir time and involving themselves in the political process?
Above all, they are interested in comprehensive education for their children. In addition to the county's current program, this education must include the development of our children's creative abilities and sensibilities. This is the focus of art education in the elementary schools, and this education is critical to the survival of our children.
Without a doubt, we adults have made an unbelievable mess of the environment, the economy and society. We have not learned how to livein peace on this planet.
For profit and through ignorance, we have fouled the air and water beyond comprehension. Crime and substance abuse will consume more lives and threaten destruction of civilization as we perceive it. Solutions must be found, and we adults aren't succeeding.
Perhaps our only hope resides with our children. But howcan we expect them to be more successful without a balanced education -- one that develops their innate abilities to be sensitive to their environment and to devise imaginative approaches to solving our most engulfing problems?
Education is one answer, and art education is an important component of a balanced education program. Think aboutthe cause and effect of the artistic process. This process involves an individual's interpretation of all that is sensed, and expression of this personal view in another form. The form can be a painting, but it needn't be.
Personal expression can become an idea, an "I have a dream" call that unites people to action. Or it could be a solution to one of the many problems of our world.
Art education is serious business. It's not about making pretty pictures for doting parents. It's not about financial gain. And it's not about sanctioned mess-making. It's about a formalized program that develops one's creative abilities and approaches this development with the same importance that is placed on the other programs for intellectual and physical development.
A significant step in achieving a comprehensive educationprogram was empowered recently with approval of the education budget. Given the importance of art education, and the scarce financial resources that are available, Dr. Ray Keech, superintendent of schools, Richard Molinaro, president of the board of education, the members ofthe board of education and the County Council must be commended and supported for having the courage to allocate funds for this importantprogram.
Many citizens agree that this is a most appropriate use of the education budget, that is, their tax dollars. Some of us believe that the current funding is an important achievement which is overdue and is appreciated nonetheless. But until an appropriate balance among the education programs has been achieved, we will continue our involvement in the political process of Harford County.
Art is foreveryone.
COLUMN WAS 'INSULTING'
From: Colleen M. Reft
I am writing in reply to your editorial "Snobbish parents will pay the price for fighting redistricting," Harford County Sun, June 30. I live in the Broadview development and already had two of my children re-assigned from William S. James to Ring Factory Elementary School this year.
It was a big adjustment for the kids and we experienced a number of growing pains as we, as parents, and the children made the adjustment of switching loyalties from one elementary school toanother.
I find your statement, "And the frenzy these parents have gotten into has everyone overlooking the more compelling debate over unused class space," to be ludicrous. I suggest you get your facts straight, Mr. Guidera.
Four proposals were submitted during the school board meeting on June 10 and June 17 regarding unused class space. Aberdeen High School is projected to have the greatest number of vacancies, 658 spaces. One of those proposals included busing fifth-graders from my neighborhood to Aberdeen High School, which is 12 milesaway.
I do not want to see my children spending a good part of their school day riding a bus. I want to see them and their teachers making valuable use of their time learning in a classroom instead.
Also, you failed to mention in your column that in a few years these vacancies will be filled without redistricting. And, if I can believe what I read in the June 30 Sunday Sun, we can expect a "baby boomlet"from the military personnel within the year.
I believe it's safe to assume that many of the people living in the Edgewood-Aberdeen area will be affected by the result of this military personnel "baby boomlet," which will mean a large influx of kindergartners in six years.I foresee the Edgewood-Aberdeen area being faced with an overcrowding problem of their own. Luckily, the school board and County Executive Eileen Rehrmann do not share your misinformed opinion that redistricting is the answer.
I found your article insulting, short-sighted, narrow-minded and insensitive to the concerns of the parents whose children are going to be most affected by this overcrowding problem.
I do not want to see my children shuffled from school to school toschool or from school district to school district due to shortsightedness on the part of people such as you who wish to look at "the morecompelling debate over unused class space."
While you're debating, the problem is getting worse. It takes a minimum of four years to get a school from planning stages to the point where it's ready to have children walk through its doors.
And if you run into difficulty finding land to build the school on or have construction problems, itcould be even longer. We need to have the county change its policy and start advance funding schools.
I agree with Rehrmann, we need to go to the bond market, but I am realistic in knowing that will not be enough. I think the public facilities proposal to allow the countyto reject new development if it is expected to overload an area school's needs to be exercised.
I also think that impact fees on the developers, who are responsible for so much of this growth, are needed. If not impact fees, how about a mandatory donation of land suitablefor a school site, just as mandatory "open space" areas were imposed?
I agree with you in that we're going to need a school tax. I'm tired of hearing Sen. Habern Freeman (D-District 34) complain that such a large proportion of the county's budget goes toward education. What we spend on education is our investment in our future.
The problem of a rapidly growing school-age population is going to affect allof us -- the Bel Air school district as well as the Edgewood and Aberdeen school districts. The burden of providing for the education of our children should be shared by all. I'm ready to assume a part of the burden, but I feel the developers profiting from this tremendous growth should share in the burden.
And, Mr. Guidera, instead of tearing down morals with name-calling, references to racism and inflammatory statements such as "these homeowners who worry about their home values dropping because little Johnny and Debbie must go to a school where the other kids' parents don't carry Visa Gold cards," I suggestyou exercise some responsible journalism and get the whole picture. Use some objectivity and foresight, and focus more on generating somecreative ideas for the financing the construction of these much-needed schools.