Letters to the Editor

July 27, 2009

A+ for Smithsburg English teacher

To the editor:

Today, public education is a concern for many. Thus, on occasion commendation is due to those teachers rising above the rest.

I have taught various levels of freshman English at Hagerstown Community College over the last two years. In every class, I find that I can spot individuals who have a solid foundation in grammar, essay structure and style. In reference to literature, they have read Greek mythology and can connect it to other stories - an educational coup in a world of e-mails and texting.

These students have one local teacher in common: Michael Babylon of Smithsburg. Now, it is noteworthy that Mr. Babylon is a middle school teacher.


I know Mr. Babylon and stumbled across the fact that some of my students had been in his class. It became apparent that his students were "different" - identifiable by their writing quality. Not all of these students are gifted writers. Some flourish while others are challenged; yet, they all have in common a basic understanding of the English subject. To be sure, there are other good teachers who helped these students along the way, but I do consider it curious to be able to identify them.

When I so often work with students who struggle with the basics of our language, it seems worthy to note the talents of one of Washington County's teachers. My fellow English professionals would do well to learn and emulate Mr. Babylon's classroom.

Annyce Stone
Lyons, Colo. (formerly of Smithsburg)

Trying to reconstruct Jackson's journey

To the editor:

My name is Carlton Jackson, and I am a university professor of history emeritus at Western Kentucky University.

I am trying to reconstruct President-elect Andrew Jackson's Inaugural Journey, Jan. 19 through Feb. 11, 1829. He came by steamboat all the way from the Hermitage (Cumberland River) to Pittsburgh (Ohio River). From Pittsburgh he traveled on the Cumberland Road on into Washington City. He passed through Hagerstown on this journey.

I wonder if there may be inter-generational stories in Hagerstown and surrounding areas about the time Andrew Jackson came through town.

Could any person who might have heard stories about Jackson's visit, please get in touch with me. His Inauguration Journey is a little known aspect of Jackson's life and career; I am already finding some interesting information, but it would be wonderful to hear from some citizens of Hagerstown.

Carlton Jackson
Bowling Green, KY 42101

Municipal band is a jewel in the city's crown

To the editor:

Having attended the summer Sunday evening concerts by the Hagerstown Municipal Band in the City Park band shell for more than 30 years, last Sunday was certainly one of the best we have ever heard. The band is made up of mostly professional musicians but the selection of music and level of performance somehow seemed exceptional.

And then when Lynn Lerew, conductor of the band since 1975 handed over the baton to guest conductor Loras John Schissel, I discovered why band members were playing with such inspiration. Schissel is the music director and conductor of the Virginia Grand Military Band and the Cleveland Orchestra's Blossom Festival Band, two of the finest bands of their type in the world. He has traveled all over the United States, Europe and Asia conducting bands and vocal ensembles and is much in demand.

He enthusiastically led the band in a rendition of Richard Rodgers "Victory at Sea" after which the audience rose as one for a standing ovation. His encore got the audience involved singing and whistling along and having a grand time. The music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and the ever-familiar hymn closed an exceptional evening for the hundreds in attendance.

I heartily agree with Schissel who said "The Municipal Band is another jewel in an already encrusted crown in this city we call home."

Supported by tax dollars for the past 95 years, I would like to thank the current mayor and City Council for their continued support of this series. There are only three concerts left this summer. Join us at 7:30 p.m. next Sunday!

Franklin Erck

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