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Letters to the editor - 8/8/03

August 08, 2003

School appreciated


To the editor:

I regularly read the many letters you publish from inmates serving sentences in the Hagerstown region. Understandably, most of them are filled with criticisms and condemnations of this or that administration. Certainly, nobody wants to be here, myself included. So, when there are those inmates who do more than complain, when they take action and take advantage of their current circumstance, it should not go unnoticed.

This month at MCTC there are 10 inmates completing the required courses for an Associate of Arts degree from Hagerstown Community College. The degrees are in Information Technology and will be conferred during a graduation ceremony in October. For the past 21/2 years, each man has chosen to spend his time attending classes and studying, with the hopes of doing better things upon release. To these men, this program is more important than most will ever know. For many it is the first time in their lives that the have experienced an achievement of this sort and of this magnitude. It has given them the opportunity to acquaint themselves with that which is best within them.

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The program success is lead by Dr. Michael Parsons, the prison liaison from HCC, and by Mary Kay Rath, the MCTC College Coordinator. The instructors are all from HCC, and participate with an enthusiasm unparalleled in an environment like this. Each is doing more than helping to reduce an abstract recidivism rate; they are saving individual lives and, in some cases, entire families. They are breaking cycles of violence, drug addiction, and self-destruction that have been a part of our lives for far too long.

Although nearly all federal funding for college education in prisons across the country dried up in 1995, there are those who continue to scramble together funding each year to ensure the program's survival. These stewards understand the value of education, and the role it plays in transforming the lives of those given its opportunity. All involved need to be applauded.

Matthew M. McKendree
MCTC No. 288-757
Hagerstown




Jean Woods will be missed


To the editor:

Much to our chagrin and disappointment, my husband and I recently learned that Jean Woods, the director of The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts is leaving.

From our personal view and relationship with the museum this is most unfortunate. Over the past 15 or more years we have donated more than 25 pieces of early Lalique glass, several fine ceramic urns and many art books. In 1999, July to November, we loaned the museum a collection of 150 pieces of Lalique for a lovely exhibition.

All of this pleasant and productive activity was due solely to the close relationship and confidence that developed between us and Jean Woods. From our personal standpoint, and that of other donor family members and Baltimore friends, Woods is "The Museum" and our only connection.

Hagerstown and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts is losing an excellent director and everyone should be made aware of how important this loss will be to your esteemed institution and city.

Without Jean Woods' continued presence, care and expertise, our gifts to and interest in this museum will be limited and possibly at an end.

Dr. and Mrs. Edward F. Lewison
Baltimore

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