Bob’n’along,Wednesday

It takes time for pains of tragedy to heal

    Those of us who have never lost a teen-ager cannot know the unthinkable suffering of those parents who have — whether as a result of a traffic accident or a shooting or a drug overdose.
    The area has been saddened by the hit-and-run death of Robert C. Byrd High School senior Lorin Scott Williams.
Even classmates of teens who tragically lose their lives and  close friends of the family can’t truly imagine the suffering of the teen’s parents and siblings unless they have experienced it first-hand themselves.
    But let there be no mistake about it, there’s plenty of pain to go around for those who aren’t relatives, but have spent several hours a day — in classrooms, phys-ed periods and extra-curricular events — with the victims. This includes teachers.
These people have needs that must be met, as well.
    It is good that counselors are provided for fellow students of youngsters tragically cut down even before the prime of their lives.  The presence of counselors has not always been the case. But neither has there been the frequency of tragedies involving young people.
    The trauma of losing a classmate while still in high school or earlier can definitely leave an  indelible scar on young people’s lives.  Trained counselors may be quite helpful, as they’ve specialized in a certain kind of psychology to handle situations of bereavement among close friends.
But even counselors don’t provide a “cure.” ‘Same with the clergy. Pastors provide words  of comfort and spiritual help, but the anguish of loss remains.
The best cure is time.
    But it tends to pass so slowly after a friend dies long before his or her time. I’m certainly no psychologist.
I just believe it’s common-sense that bereft teens need their space. The very last thing they need is a group of people hovering over them. Let them have their air.
    Of course there’s a time to talk about it when tragedy strikes.  But there’s a time for that talk to cease and for the quiet understanding process to begin.
Wouldn’t it be much easier if more people knew the difference?

    Bryan McIntyre, a former Clarksburg resident and a friend of mine now living in Raleigh, N.C., sent me an e-mail at home earlier this month that he titled, “Great Little Truths About Life That Children Have Learned.”
It follows:
1. No matter how hard you try, you can’t baptize cats.
2. When your Mom is mad at your Dad, don’t let her brush your hair.
3. If your sister hits you, don’t hit her back. They always catch the second person.
4. Never ask a three-year-old to hold a tomato.
5. You can’t trust dogs to watch your food.
6. Don’t sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.
7. Puppies still have bad breath, even after eating a Tic-Tac.
8. Never hold a Dustbuster and a cat at the same time.
9. School lunches stick to the wall.
10. You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
11. Don’t wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.
Bryan also sent some “Great Little Truths About Life That Adults Have Learned”:
1. Raising teen-agers is like trying to nail Jell-o to a tree.
2. There’s always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to  look for it. For example, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don’t hurt.
3. Reason to smile: Every seven minutes of every day, someone in an aerobics class pulls a hamstring.
4. The best way to keep kids at home is to make the home a  pleasant atmosphere — and let the air out of their tires.
5. Families are like fudge —mostly sweet with a few nuts.
6. Middle age is when you choose cereal for the fiber, not the toy.
7. The more you complain, the longer God lets you live.
8. If you can remain calm, you don’t have all the facts.
9. Eat a live toad first thing in the morning, and nothing worse can happen to you the rest of the day.

Rules to live by, if ever I’ve heard them. Thanks, Bryan.
Another Bob’n’Along Friday.



Exponent Editorial

Yet another school system enacts i.d. tag system — Why?

    The Lewis County Board of Education this week approved the use of student identification tags at Lewis County High School. In December, this editorial board questioned the use of i.d. tags in the Randolph County school system, and we question their necessity in Lewis County.
    It is our contention that the school system should be responsible for security measures, not the students. Lock the doors, put in metal detectors, make the parent volunteers wear i.d. tags, but don’t place the burden of security on the backs of the students.
    High school students are going to forget to wear their tags, there is no getting around it. They should be concerned with the business of learning, not whether or not they remembered to bring their i.d. tags this morning.
    The Lewis County board, taking a cue from Randolph County, no doubt, made concessions to those who complained about the tags on religious grounds. Randolph County officials ended up firing a physics teacher who said wearing a bar code was something akin to the “mark of the beast.” In Lewis County, the board agreed to eliminate numbers on the backs of the cards if students objected.
    We don’t agree that the tags violate privacy rights as some parents in Randolph County contended. If some object on religious grounds, that is their right. We simply feel that requiring students to wear the tags is a waste of time, money and effort.
There has to be a better way.

Today’s editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which includes William J. Sedivy, John G. Miller, Julie R. Cryser, James Logue, Kevin Courtney and Cecil Jarvis.



Telegram Editorial

Community service sensible penalty in cross-burning case

    For once we can applaud the justice system for seeing to it that the punishment fits the crime. We applaud Harrison County Chief Justice Thomas Bedell for his sensible decision in the case of a 20-year-old man recently convicted for burning the imprint of a cross in the lawn of an African-American family in Quiet Dell.
    Michael Vernon Wildman has managed to avoid serving 10 years in the state prison at Mount Olive in Fayette County, plus one year in the Harrison County Correctional Center and maximum fines totaling $5,500.
    Instead, his entire sentence was suspended and he was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service for the Mount Zion Baptist Church on Water Street in Clarksburg, and he must attend a course on race, class and gender relations at Fairmont State College.
    We think Judge Bedell clearly made the wise choice. He said he had considered sending Wildman to prison, but stated that he believed such an action might cause more problems than it would solve.
    By ordering Wildman to perform public service at the church, we feel it would place him in a position where he might gain a different perspective of the plight of African-American people that continues to exist in our society today.
    Fortunately, the African-American community in the Clarksburg area has demonstrated its desire to co-exist more peacefully with majority whites than in other cities in West Virginia.
    Wildman was convicted early last month of violating the civil rights of Raymond Parker Jr. and his family and of destruction of property. Two years ago, he poured gasoline in the shape of a cross on Parker's lawn and lit it after an evening of drinking at a nearby party, testimony revealed.
    In our support for Judge Bedell's ruling, we are not concerned exclusively with the rights of the Parkers being violated. Had Wildman been sentenced to prison, like Bedell we would be concerned that "there are groups in that society who will target him for violence. And maybe that's what he deserves."
    Bedell continued, "But what worries me is that if one group targets him, he will be forced to go to another group and they will teach him more hate and racism.
    We agree with Judge Bedell that Wildman, working with the Rev. David Kates, pastor, and other members of the Mount Zion church community for the next two years, will be taught patience and tolerance rather than prison teaching him to become another racist.
    Wildman must perform 100 hours of community service in each of the next two years.
We believe this decision to suspend sentencing of Wildman will serve as a fine example in cases of others found guilty of similar crimes.
 
Robert F. Stealey
Telegram Editorial Board chairman



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Copyright Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999