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 cant truly imagine the suffering of the teens
parents and siblings unless they have experienced it first-hand themselves.
But let there be no mistake about it, theres plenty
of pain to go around for those who arent 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 peoples lives. Trained counselors may be quite helpful, as
theyve specialized in a certain kind of psychology to handle situations
of bereavement among close friends.
But even counselors dont 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. Im certainly no psychologist.
I just believe its 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 theres a time to talk about it when tragedy
strikes. But theres a time for that talk to cease and for the quiet
understanding process to begin.
Wouldnt 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.
1. No matter how hard you try, you cant baptize cats.
2. When your Mom is mad at your Dad, dont let her brush your hair.
3. If your sister hits you, dont hit her back. They always catch the
4. Never ask a three-year-old to hold a tomato.
5. You cant trust dogs to watch your food.
6. Dont 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 cant hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
11. Dont wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.
Bryan also sent some Great Little Truths About Life That Adults Have
1. Raising teen-agers is like trying to nail Jell-o to a tree.
2. Theres 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 dont 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 dont 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 Ive heard them. Thanks, Bryan.
Another BobnAlong Friday.
Yet another school system enacts i.d. tag system
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
dont 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 dont 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.
Todays 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.
Community service sensible penalty in cross-burning
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
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,
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
Ñ 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