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A rather extraordinary event took place this week at Taylor County Middle School. Twenty one members of the school's track team got up at an assembly on Thursday and issued an apology for drinking at a track meet last month. They elected a spokesperson to deliver a formal apology and then the rest paraded in front of the microphone and each said, "I'm sorry."
The boys and girls admitted to drinking alcohol from sports bottles during a meet on April 28. The principal suspended the students for one track meet and they were later prohibited from attending a field trip to Kennywood Park. Some questioned whether the punishment was severe enough but that's for the parents and school officials to debate.
Perhaps the most difficult punishment was self-inflicted. After a talk with James "Rat" Saunders, a minister and president of the Marion County Board of Education, the students decided themselves to apologize to the school. "Anytime you have to get up in front of your peers and say those two words, it's hard," said Saunders.
This whole episode is a disturbing one because of the age of the students. They weren't high school seniors, they were middle school students. Middle school. And they were drinking alcohol. If this doesn't frighten any responsible adult, nothing will.
But on the positive side, the students are, apparently, sorry for what they did and are quite ashamed of their actions. Remorse these days among young people is sometimes lacking if not altogether absent. But then they took it a step farther and humbled themselves before their fellow students.
We hope the other students learned something from this, too. We need to take responsibility for our actions (an overused axiom, to be sure, but a valid one nonetheless).
We also hope they learned something about forgiveness. The student body was asked to put this incident behind them and to move on. "These are good kids," said Saunders. "They made a mistake, but what one of us did not make a mistake when we were that age?"
-- James Logue
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Curfews are good for teenagers too
Teenagers won't like it, of course, but police in area cities plan to strictly enforce curfews this summer.
The goal, say police in Clarksburg, Bridgeport, Grafton, Nutter Fort and Weston is to stop juvenile crime before it happens. We think that's a worthy goal and curfews are a good way to go about it.
No, every group of teenagers out after dark is not intent on causing trouble or breaking the law. But some are, and how can police tell the difference? As the recent spree of school violence and school threats shows, it's hard even for friends and relatives to know who's going to do what.
Bridgeport Police Lt. J.W. Hotsinpiller describes his cities curfew this way; "It's a relatively minor offense, but it allows police officers to deal with kids who are out late with no good purpose."
That's the key phrase - "with no good purpose" - because even boredom can be a risk.
"When you get in groups and you're bored, sometimes you get into an activity you're not suppose to," says Nutter Fort Police Chief Ron Godwin.
However much teenagers dislike them, there can be little doubt that curfew work.
"Our curfews definitely work," says Godwin.
Weston Police Sgt. Wayne Reynolds says this about enforcement of his city's curfew: "We've had mostly younger kids dumping over garbage cans and throwing flower pots down onto main avenue. We were pretty easy on them, then we started writing tickets and calling parents more. And that seems to work."
Let it be noted that any teenager out late with a purpose, and accompanied by a parent, guardian or supervising adult, will not be in violation of local curfews.
Even middle-aged editorialists can remember just hanging out as a teenager. Curfews don't put a stop to that. They just say, move it inside. That's safer for the community and, whether they admit it or not, safer for the teenagers.
-- Tim Langer
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Legislators owe taxpayers an explanation for ritzy trips
Hopefully, West Virginia taxpayers will soon begin to wake up and smell the jet fuel. Because at our expense, this month a score of state legislators and two staff members will be heading for exotic Las Vegas to attend the National Association of State Legislatures.
It will be a taxpayers' expense of approximately $34,000.
Late in 1997, 17 legislators and three staff members flew to Hawaii to attend the annual conference of the Council of State Governments.
That time, taxpayers had to foot a $33,200 bill. And this may just be the tip of the iceberg.
Speaker of the House Bob Kiss had a ready answer for newsmen not long ago when he was asked how many more luxurious sites state officials will be able to visit at the expense of us, the taxpayers.
Kiss, a Raleigh County Democrat, claimed that each state takes a turn hosting the National Association of State Legislatures, and this year it just so happened to be Nevada's turn.
My, how convenient.
He further volunteered that the events are "naturally going to gravitate to a convention-type facility. They're usually major convention cities, but they're not always glitzy or as high profile as Honolulu or Las Vegas."
What will the participants do when it's Mississippi's ... or Montana's ... or West Virginia's turn to host the annual convention?
Just last summer, when the National Conference of State Legislatures convened in Harrisburg, Pa., from West Virginia there were only eight legislators and the Senate clerk who bothered to take part.
And the year before, there were only 11 from the Mountain State who took part in the conference in St. Louis.
As taxpayers of the State of West Virginia, we are due some honest answers as to why a convention in Nevada is so much more "important" for legislators and state officials to attend than one in, for example, Arkansas.
We feel it's high time we started getting them.
-- Robert F. Stealey
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