Teacher of the Year
Congratulations and thank you for putting education in the forefront of your April 30 issue. I am a student at Fallston High School and therefore have never set foot in Patrick Whitehurst's classroom. I was, however, one of the three student judges who selected Mr. Whitehurst as the Harford County teacher of the year.
As president of the Harford County Regional Association of Student Councils, I have the opportunity to work with many administrators, but even more teachers, countywide. I also work with many students.
. . . The teachers of Harford County should be honored to be represented by a fellow colleague who is respected and adored by the people whose opinions count most -- the students. After meeting Mr. Whitehurst for a brief moment at the awards banquet, I could see how much he cares for his students.
The amount of positive press that this program has received is a tribute to all of the teachers and has proven that The Sun recognizes and applauds those who build the future. Please continue in your effort to recognize the positive.
Victoria H. Italiano
Hallelulah! I read in the April 19 edition of The Catholic Review that the Interfaith Alliance, a national coalition of mainstream religious leaders, is denouncing the Christian Coalition headed by Pat Robertson.
It claims that this Christian Coalition is misusing religion to promote right-wing political ideology, which is in opposition to Jesus' policy of being "passionately concerned about the least of us."
The article stated that the Christian Coalition "has worked mightily to prostitute Christianity, putting the religion of Jesus Christ into the service of the conservative politics of the Republican Party."
I was so glad to read this article because it brought back my belief in the church. The past election saw this Christian Coalition passing out literature in churches on how to vote, putting brochures on our cars in the church parking lot and making people believe that its way was the only "Christian" way to vote.
This made me so angry I was considering leaving the church. It is hard to see how anyone professing to walk in the footsteps of the Son of Man would scapegoat the poor. . . . As a Christian, I have never wanted to be associated with this Christian Coalition and now neither do the churches. Isn't life grand?
More on Coalition
To read the Christian Coalition's "Contract with the American Family" is to wonder how well-intentioned people can come up with so many bad ideas. Ralph Reed, its executive director, called for the Republican Party to send a dramatic political message to the American people by abolishing an important government agency.
He proclaimed: "The Legal Services Corporation would be a great one to cut." In his unseemly eagerness to deny poor Americans equal access to the justice system, Reed is either uninformed or uncaring about the thousands of people helped by Legal Services advocates across the country every day: tenants facing eviction and homelessness, elders facing illegal ejection from nursing homes, abused women and children seeking safety, and veterans needing services and benefits.
Ralph Reed's suggestion reflects, one hopes and prays, an isolated misunderstanding of fundamental American ideals rather than a party-wide plan to deprive people of access to
justice simply because they cannot pay for it.
Don't you know what a wonderful chance Harford County has given to me this year? I am a foreign exchange student from Thailand associated with the American Intercultural Student .
I have been here for nine months already and I am going to get back to Thailand in a few weeks. I am a student at Bel Air High School right now. . . . I have experienced many things. I have learned English a lot. Everything at my school has been just fine, all my teachers are really nice and I have a very warm feeling from my American and foreign friends.
I am very excited about participating in the graduation ceremony with all seniors since this does not exist in my own country. I would like to thank Harford County, all the taxpayers, my teachers and the most special thanks for my host family for giving me a wonderful chance to be a foreign exchange student here.
Prayut (Kiam) Apisitsareekul
Don't Let Athletes Coast
Mike Burns in his May 21 "Comment" in The Sun for Harford County is quite pleased with the current county eligibility standards for student athletes.
The student council representatives have displayed courage in addressing this issue and don't deserve to be bludgeoned by Mr. Burns. . . .
Requiring a minimum grade point average to participate in interscholastic sports should not throw the marvelous athletes of the Harford County schools into a quandary. If . . . these athletes "have better grades than any other group of students," why balk at setting a minimum grade point average?
"Pass five required courses in a marking period and stay on track for graduation" simply does not cut it. . . .
Even "A" students in our schools do not have higher-order thinking. Most cannot write, unless they are writing to a prompt or to directions. For years, these kids have not had an original thought. . . .
There are two kinds of kids who play sports. One is the pushy kind with a killer instinct. These are kids who know what gets them into college -- the certificates and the recommendations that document them as "well-rounded students." They belie Mr. Burns' assertion that college should not be the only aim of a high school education. They know that college admissions boards are quite impressed with student-athletes. . . .
Then, there is the other kind of student-athletes. They are not particularly worried about college, they love sports above academics, and they want to be left alone to pursue their first love. These are the "D" and "C" student-athletes. . . . They value the ball more than the book.
I'm glad Mr. Burns admits that one cannot be certain if sports, more than other extracurricular endeavors, teaches self-discipline and hard work. What does he think about writing, which demands absolute concentration? What does he think of acting, which requires hours of practice, or of music, which takes years of sweat to excel in, or of art, where without hard work you can get nowhere?
It is baloney to say that sports develops a well-rounded character or team spirit. Except for an exceptional few, most athletes do not have the time to excel in music, art, drama or writing. Also, many athletes are looking out for No. 1, themselves. . . .
As Mr. Burns writes, college may not be the next passage for all high school graduates. While college does not guarantee employment, recent studies clearly indicate that the level of education determines the employability and the income of an individual. Unless children opt for a technical education, I believe it is the duty of schools to prepare students, and this includes athletes, for college.
. . . I urge the student council representatives to stick to their guns. A minimum grade point average for athletes is not too much to ask of the Harford County Board of Education. . . .