Banks County Opinions...

May 17, 2000

The Banks County News
May 17, 2000

The door is open or the door is shut
Few sights are more distressing to some public officials than the citizen (or newspaper reporter) who comes into a public meeting, takes out a pad and pencil and takes notes-particularly notes about "controversial" matters. If the discussion gets particularly hot and heavy, the chairman may exercise a great deal of ingenuity and stop the discussion.
Something else that may happen at a meeting is that a public official will say something is "off the record" and look at the reporter. These officials need to remember that they can't turn information off and on during a public meeting.
Boards also may decide to go into what officials refer to as an "executive session." What this means is that the public officials will go behind closed doors to discuss business that impacts all citizens. State laws are tougher now, with fines in place for those who violate the requirements that only specific personnel, legal and real estate matters be discussed in these closed sessions.
Another thing that occasionally pops up at public meetings is a suggestion from a member of the board to hold a "work session" or "committee meeting" later on a hot topic. If a majority of the elected officials are present, these work sessions and committee meetings must still be open to the public.
There's no doubt about it: Newspapers cause problems for public officials. It's been that way ever since the English newspaper publisher, John Wilkes, in 1771 won his battle for the right for printers to carry full proceedings of the House of Commons. It was cantankerous printers in the Colonies, such as Benjamin Harris and James Franklin, who went ahead and printed the truth, insisting that they had a right to do this without "clearing" it with government censors. Indeed, the American Revolution was largely brought about by talented and outspoken printers and pamphleteers.
Some politicians seem to wonder where citizens get the idea that they have the right to attend a public meeting. It comes straight from the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees a free press. In many states, including Georgia, the right also comes from the open meeting and open record laws.

Letter To The Editor
The Banks County News
May 17, 2000

Disputes Fouche column,
says rules are necessary in school
Dear Editor:
I would like to respond to a column published during the week of May 8-12. I am a teacher at Banks County High School, and a parent of children in our school system. I must say that I was less than impressed with the careless article mentioned above. Perhaps, I am just confused about who the actual "we" mentioned in the article is supposed to be. It is my understanding that there is currently only one society in our world, of which all of us, as humans, are members. I do not understand the two societies mentioned in Mr. Fouche's article.
In addition, I understand that our Constitution protects the right to freedom of speech and of the press, along with other rights. Personally, I feel that each individual is entitled to his/her own personal opinion. In my classroom, I encourage students to think for themselves. I also encourage them to express their opinions at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way. However, I must say I have definite problems with the opinions expressed in the column mentioned above. The idea of comparing something as inconsequential as a dress code to Nazi Germany is appalling to me. I would think, and after an in-depth study of World War II students in my class would probably agree, that the atrocities suffered by the oppressed victims of Nazi Germany outweigh by far the enforcement of rules in schools.
First and foremost is the issue of respect for authority. Contrary to popular opinion, the school board and administrators do have the authority to set certain guidelines or rules to be observed by students, as well as faculty and staff. This is similar to the idea of congressmen, senators and the president making laws to keep our society safe and organized. While not every person agrees with each and every one of these laws, one must obey these laws until they are changed-using the proper procedure. After all, in the democracy in which we live, the American people do have a voice and a right to choose. If someone chooses not to obey one of these laws just because he/she does not agree with it, then he/she must expect to suffer the consequences of his/her actions and take responsibility for those actions. After all, without laws, our society would be anarchy; full of chaos and disorder. Society would cease being a functional and progressive entity.
In the same way, schools must enforce certain rules in order for the main function - education - to commence. These rules must include some guidelines concerning student and faculty dress. Students have enough distractions in their hectic lives; dress should not be an issue. For example, a beautiful female student who decides to come to school topless would be a bit much for any other student to ignore. I imagine even Mr. Fouche would be a bit distracted. At any rate, the learning process would be interrupted, leading to a misfunction of classes and school. Again, someone has to be in charge - someone has to set the guidelines. In our society, this means the school board and administration. It is my understanding that at least in the Banks County school system input from parents and students is welcomed and considered by those in authority before decisions concernig dress are made.
Integrity is defined by Webster's as "honor; adherance to a code of ethics or morals; soundness." Perhaps it would behoove the "we" referred to by Mr. Fouche to look again at the ideas of honor and integrity. The idea that a dress code, or any other rule for that matter, is intended to stifle the individuality of students is extremely uninformed and predictably immature. As a teenager, my mother complained about the dress code at her high school because the female students were not allowed to wear pants. As a teenager, I complained about my high school's dress code because students were not allowed to wear shorts. Today, in the most unrestricted situation in the history of our society, teenagers complain because there is a dress code at all.
Rules for student safety and the sake of education are necessary. Without them, "we" could be headed to a lawless and chaotic society begun by people who, according to Mr.Fouche, are trying to " them that you don't always know what is right..."

Sincerely, Cara Bray
Language Arts Department, Banks County High School

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By Mary Ann Robisnson
The Banks County News
May 17, 2000

My only son will soon be leaving home
I have tried to write this column several times today. I write a few lines and decide not to use them. So I start over. It's a difficult column to write. You see, like many other parents, I have a child who is graduating this week. Actually, I have two.
Aly is graduating from kindergarten and although it is a milestone in her life and I am very proud of her, her brother is graduating from high school the same day. As I reflect on the past 18 years, memories flood from my mind and heart, and inevitably the tears begin to flow.
Jason is my only son and although he now stands 6'6" tall, he will always be my "little boy." I have often heard that daddies have a special bond with their little girls. I believe moms have the same special bond with their sons. My relationship with Jason is, and always will be, something I cherish and am grateful for.
His life has taken me to places I never dreamed of. From Little League baseball and traveling all over the northeastern United States and Canada for hockey to being baptized at Galilee Christian Church and graduating at the top of his class, Jason has always made me proud to be his mother. I can only hope I have made him as proud to be my son.
As with any parent/child relationship, we've had our share of conflicts during those 18 years, but that's not what I remember when I think of Jason. The good times, which have been much more numerous and so much more important, are what I remember when I see the confident young man he is today. He makes me laugh and fills me with such admiration for the person he has become. He set high goals for himself and worked hard to achieve those goals.
Now it's time to set new goals, to look to the future. In Jason's case, those goals include going to Georgia Tech and moving away from home. In my case, those goals include letting go of my little boy and getting through graduation without crying uncontrollably.
I know I am not the only parent who thinks their son or daughter is special. Just look around. You can see it in the eyes and hear it in the voice of every parent who will proudly sit at commencement exercises this week and in weeks to come. You can see the pride and happiness on each face mingled with just a tinge of sadness that this chapter is coming to a close.
As our "children" graduate from high school and go on to college or begin new careers, we can only pray that we have prepared them emotionally, intellectually and spiritually for what life will bring their way. They are strong enough to endure and humble enough to remember where that strength comes from.
To the parents of the graduating Class of 2000, I offer my congratulations. The road may not have always been easy, but the final destination was worth the effort and is certainly something to be proud of.
To the graduates of the Class of 2000, I offer my hope that each of you fulfills your dreams for the future, that you are successful in your endeavors, faithful to your beliefs and, most of all, happy with the life you choose.
And to my son, I offer my heartfelt prayer that God will continue to guide you and bless your life as you begin this new chapter and reach for new goals. I love you, Jason.
Mary Ann Robinson is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.

Letter To The Editor
The Banks County News
May 17, 2000

Mobile support group appreciates help
Dear Editor:
The Banks County Mobile Support Group would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one that has helped us with the first two official fund-raising events: the Easter basket giveaway, and the hot dog supper and cake walk.
Fun and fellowship was had by all at the cake walk and hot dog supper that was held at the Grady Fire Station #410 on April 29. We wish to thank you for every cake, pie, fruit basket, and the other thinks that were donated for the walk.
A special thank you goes out to all of the local businesses for their donations. Thanks to everyone that came out and supported our cause that night. Without you, we wouldn't have had a successful night.
Please continue to give us the support that we need, as we try to support our firefighters on the scene. For those who don't know about our group, we are called to help with replenishing water, Gatorade, etc. for the firefighters who have an unfortunate call to a structure fire or any call that they are at for a long period of time.
For more information about our group, please call the Fire Administration Office at 677-1812.
Again, thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely, Anita Bonds
Vice President and Publicity Coordinator

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Homer, Georgia
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