Letters to the Editor

October 03, 2009

Lincolnshire Elementary students show true meaning of civility

To the editor:

A lot has been said and written recently about civility, or more importantly the lack thereof, and civility's root word, civil.

The Joe Wilsons and Serena Williamses of the world and in this bad economic time - those personality types are legion and have obviously forgotten, if they ever knew, the definition of that simple, five-letter word. Forget about the lies Joe, if there were any, or the line call Serena, good or bad, and focus for a moment on decorum, or how human beings act.

The Oxford dictionary, its third of seven definitions, uses "polite, obliging, not rude" to define civil; Webster uses the word "polite" in its fourth definition. Therefore, to be civil or to practice civility means one is polite, obliging and not rude. Wilson and Williams (heaven only knows how many others of recent note) were not civil and did not practice civility.


Enough teaching and defining, let's get to the thesis of this opinion letter - simply stated "the world needs to be a macrocosm of the third-grade classes (there are four) at Lincolnshire Elementary School." Why? Because those young people know what it means to be civil. Let me explain.

Last week, the five Rotary clubs in our community kicked off their annual youth dictionary project, giving a dictionary to every third-grade school student (public or private) in Washington County.

A group of Rotarians, the superintendent of Washington County Public Schools and the president of Hagerstown Community College arrived at Lincolnshire Elementary School to hand out the dictionaries to 80-plus third-graders. There was to be fun, dictionary games and a couple of boring speeches, resulting in happy third-grade students, some of whom might have been given their very first book. The only problem with this wonderful scene was there were not enough dictionaries to go around.

No blame here. Let's not light up the phones at Mail Call with accusations of who was at fault, just share with me what happened next.

Recall that there are four classes of third-graders at Lincolnshire. Well, three of the four classes agreed among themselves to wait to get their dictionaries. No prompting, no cajoling, no promise of bigger or faster dictionaries, just simply third-grade students being civil.

But wait, there is more. Remember the four classes? Well, one of the classes did get their dictionaries that day, except for one remaining problem - we only had 20 dictionaries and there were 21 students in the "lucky" class.

Imagine that you were the moderator (I was) and one small angelic-faced little girl, the last person in the lucky class, comes up to you and politely, obligingly and not rudely says, "Thank you, I'll wait until you bring the rest of the dictionaries." There is still a lump in my throat. Two days later, each third-grade student received their dictionary.

So, Joe Wilson, Serena Williams and all of the rest of you uncivilized louts, come on down to Lincolnshire Elementary School and sit in for a day with the third grade. You might learn something about civility.

My own personal and special thanks to Catherine Scuffins, Lincolnshire's principal; and Karen Oberholzer, Sheri Stewart, Mindy Tringone and Tara Little, the third-grade teachers at Lincolnshire. Each of you are truly professionals and emblematic of the very best in education today.

And finally, to each third-grade student at Lincolnshire. You taught this old lout and maybe an entire county, through your actions, the true meaning of civility. Thank you.

Art Callaham


Hagerstown Rotary Club

Nominations sought for People's Choice Awards

To the editor:

The Community Foundation of Washington County MD Inc. will hold its 10th annual People's Choice Awards on Nov. 12 at Fountain Head Country Club. These awards recognize the unsung heroes in our community who give generously and unselfishly of their time, talents and abilities to improve the quality of life in Washington County.

This is your opportunity to nominate someone you know who qualifies for this recognition. The foundation will select three nominees to be honored at the People's Choice Awards banquet.

An independent panel of judges, including Bob Maginnis, David Engle, Maureen Grove, Lieba Cohen and Herb Hardin, will review the nominations and perform the hard task of picking the three winners. In addition to being honored at the dinner, a $5,000 endowment fund will be established at the foundation on behalf of each winner to benefit the nonprofit organization of their choice.

Since this is our 10th anniversary, we are inviting all of the previous winners to attend this special event. These are people who have donated thousands and thousands of volunteer hours to help the nonprofit and church communities. Please help us find the next deserving awardees.

The Herald-Mail Articles