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home : opinions : opinions
January 20, 2018

The Publisher's Pen
By Jason Sturek

Blue Ribbon School award shows strong links

Pender Public Schools accomplished something remarkable last week when it was named a National Blue Ribbon School during a dramatic announcement that was really fun to watch unfold. As one of just 347 among about 140,000 schools in the nation, it’s a unique and rare accomplishment. The students and staff exploded with joy, and I doubt any of them will ever forget that moment.

And we made a big deal of it in the newspaper this week, because it is a big deal.

There’s the familiar analogy we’ve all heard about a chain being only as strong as its weakest link. When it comes to this level of recognition, it speaks volumes about many different parts of what makes up Pender Public Schools.

If any of the following weren’t performing at a very high level — students, staff, leadership, parents and district investment, among others — you simply can’t excel at a consistently high level indicative of this award.

Each of those things carries with it enormous weight. I believe our school district has consistently shown to have all of those ingredients in abundance, year after year. It was just a matter of time before the right balance of each existed all at once to earn the district this level of recognition.

I didn’t need to see a “National Blue Ribbon School” banner hanging in the building to know that our community has something special in Pender. But, as superintendent Jason Dolliver and others said, it is validation of what we already thought to be true: It’s a great day to be a Pendragon!

Once again, trying to make sense of the senseless

Here we are as a society, again, trying to make sense of another senseless act that forever alters the lives of hundreds of people and their loved ones.

Before we could even size up the carnage with facts and figures (59 dead and 527 injured by the most recent count I have available), the politics primarily of guns was already being discussed in heated comments on social media and below stories on national news sites.

Pundits, politicians and famous people with the biggest soap boxes are all weighing in, passionately.

It’s the same old sad song and predictable dance. Whether it’s a school, a night club or, in this case, an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, the incompatible philosophies of ardent gun rights citizens and gun control advocates collide in angry verbal punches that serve only to cause high blood pressure in each other and absolutely nothing else.

It’s always bemusing — and very disappointing — to me to read the comments of two clearly intelligent and articulate human beings with opposing viewpoints on gun control dissolve into calling each other idiots and worse.

Our nation has a disproportionate share of these tragic and seemingly meaningless killings. That’s indisputable.

Also indisputable is that someone who is determined to do something horrible will likely be at least somewhat successful in a free society where crowds are free to gather.

From there, we’ve got to do something more than nothing if we have any hope of stifling these people from carrying out such bloodshed. We know the results of doing virtually nothing. It’s time for some meaningful discussions about mental health, security measures/investments in crowded places and guns if we actually do have an interest in making certain situations safer for the masses.

Is there a balance we can strike? What are we willing to change? What is our will here? Sitting idle is certainly an option, and it presupposes that we are all going to just take our chances. Maybe it’d be refreshing to hear a politician say, “We aren’t willing to do anything because we’d be giving up too much. We’re just going to have to accept this.” Hey, at least that’s honest.

There really is no way to completely solve the problem short of a police state, which no one but a fringe lunatic wants. But to say there are no speed bumps that we can put in the way of people who well up with evil and lash out at innocent people? To say there are zero ideological compromises that can be made to derail a man like this from carrying out so much carnage so easily?

If our leaders on all sides of these issues don’t have the imagination, the will, the backing or the desire to have some real discussions about the causes and effects of our current situation, then I call on them to at least have the guts to admit this is just the world we live in, and good luck everybody.

At least then, when it happens all over again, I don’t have to waste any more column space on hope.

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