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Letters to the editor 3/16

March 17, 2003

Longer would have been better



To the editor:


Thirty minutes a day. Uh huh. Old Man Winter has left gaping wounds in the Washington County school calendar, and the Board of Education believes that a 30-minute band-aid a day is an appropriate remedy.

Right. Aside from the fact that that daily family schedules, including meal times and bed times, will have to be adjusted, did it not occur to the board that parents may also have to alter their work, carpool and day-care arrangements to accommodate this change? And what of the many Washington County long-distance, early-morning commuters who may quite unexpectedly find themselves having to watch out for school buses and small children who are on their way to school half an hour earlier than they were the week before?

The board may dismiss these concerns as inconveniences we'll all have to deal with, but frankly I'd find the inconvenience much easier to handle if I believed they really could accomplish as much toward educating our children by adding 30 minutes as they could by extending the school year to June 20.

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For elementary students, that gives them an extra 10 minutes for math, 10 for language arts, and 10 for science and social studies a day. Yeah. Elementary school class lengths are already pushing the limits of most children's attention spans, and so adding 10 minutes per subject will accomplish little if anything at all.

And as for middle and high school students, how will they determine the best way to carve up the 30 minutes? Add it to each period, and you're looking at an extra five minutes per class. Add it to first period one day, second the next, and so on, and you'll have some students in algebra for 90 minutes on Monday, while others get 90 minutes of gym.

Try to divide it by subject and you run into a scheduling nightmare: "Sorry I'm late for calculus, teacher, but today was the day my English literature class was extended." Worse yet, a 30-minute study hall! Also known as the Social Hour and/or the Frantic Minutes in Which Last Night's Homework is Completed Before Class Today.

I think the board should just bite the bullet on this one and extend the school year to June 20. An extension of the year rather than the day would better serve the interests of both the students and their families, all of whom are affected by the scheduling change.

Kelley L. Anthony
Sharpsburg




Memorial Rec needs some help



To the editor:


The Memorial Recreation Center Inc., a United Way agency, has served the youth and families of the Northwest Central community of the City of Hagerstown since 1968. Our agency operates under the direction of a voluntary board of directors. A staff assistant and a part-time recreational aide are employed to assist with our programs and activities.

The majority of our youth come from low-income and/or single-parent homes. We are located in what the State of Maryland has designated to be a "HotSpots" area, where we are striving to deter our youth from the negative influences that are present in their community.

Currently, we provide after- school tutoring, mentoring, and computer skills. In addition to evening and summer recreation programs which consist of an outdoor swimming pool, basketball league, and other physical education related activities.

As with most nonprofit organizations, our center has also been affected by both the slowing economy and cutbacks from our main funding sources.

In light of this, we are forced to scale back our services to our children and operate on an abbreviated schedule while we search for alternative options. (We are determined to keep our doors open as we search for other funding sources, our center is that important to the youth and families of this community.)

The needs of the center are not any different from those of any company that wants to succeed, but in this time of cutbacks, we find ourselves with monthly shortages. Therefore, we come before you seeking your financial support in order to keep the doors of our facility open. Any financial support be it large or small would be greatly appreciated.

Willie Conyers
Memorial Recreation Center
Board of Directors

Hagerstown




Deceit is the norm



To the editor:


For a better understanding of the Muslim philosophy, let me begin with the statement:

"We are taught to deceive the infidel."

Colin Powell's report to the United Nation's Security Council on Wednesday, Feb. 5, brought back a recall of events during the mid-1970s that involved a massive case of telecommunications fraud.

I was a manager of a large group of people whose job was to investigate and identify any lost revenue of long distance calls. The calls in question fell into two categories:

First was an error in billing due to human or equipment failures. Second was the deliberate and pre-planned fraudulent purpose to avoid being charged for the call(s).

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