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By Ben Munro
The Madison County Journal
November 17, 1999

A closer look at the Raiders
All you can ever ask of anyone is to do the best with what they've got. And for the Red Raiders this past season, that is a statement that I certainly believe rings true.
Now the '99 Raiders 2-8 campaign will not raise the eyebrows of anyone who follows high school football. But if you look closely at Madison County's season, the record is a statistic that doesn't always tell the whole story.
The Red Raiders faced teams night in and night out with sizeable numbers on the sideline, large linemen and speedsters at the skill positions. During the season, the Raiders knocked heads with the number one squad in class A and the number one and number eight teams in AAA. With just over 30 players on the squad, it's not an easy task to ask a group of young men to go out there and win the majority of their games, especially in AAA ball.
But from the sideline, I saw an inspired group of well-coached young men with a will to win that was just as strong as those whose squads who had undefeated records and playoff bids waiting in the balance at season's end.
This year's team, just as last year's, was a gusty group that earned every yard they gained through their blood and sweat. I couldn't help but become caught up in the inspired atomosphere as the team battled through four quarters of football with some players playing nearly every down of the game on both sides of the ball.
Back in my days in at MCHS the football team was always around the .500 mark, but I wasn't nearly into the games as I have become since I have been out of school and have one of the best seats in the house to watch the games.
I felt for the team when they out- played the other guy, just to watch them walk away with a win that they might not have had any business winning.
The Commerce and Habersham Central contests particularly stick out in my mind as they had chances to claim long-needed wins only to be one or two plays away from pulling off the upset.
Like I've said before, I'm sure the players are sick of the "close but no cigar" cliche. Nobody goes out and practices for hours in the heat to know that they played a good game and claimed a "moral victory."
But I like what I see for the future. The team, though they will have some big holes to fill on the offensive line, have a good nucleus of tailbacks returning which bodes well for the squad as the running game is the team's bread and butter.
Also thrown in the mix is this week's announcement that the program will be competing in a non-region schedule, which will match the team up with other teams who have similar numbers. And we all saw what happened this year when the Raiders took on Jackson and North Hall - opponents with similar numbers. Madison County ripped the two squads by a combined 58-19.
So with these factors taken into account and if the squad can boost the numbers on the sidelines, there can be a solid foundation for the football program to build on. It can surely happen. Look no further than Oconee County. Just a few years ago the Warriors were a laughingstock; now they're one of the most powerful teams in the state.
It won't happen overnight, but I believe there is the potential in this county for the Red Raiders to field a winning football team.
And hopefully all those moral victories can become a thing of the past.
Ben Munro is a reporter for The Madison County Journal.

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
November 17, 1999

Frankly Speaking
Gateway test isn't fair
Another uproar over education has developed, this time in Gwinnett County. The board of education has decided to use a Gateway exam as the sole determining factor in promotions. Parents are objecting, saying that classroom grades and teacher input should be included in promotion decisions.
Other parents object to basing a child's entire school year on a single test. One parent wrote in an Access Atlanta forum that if a child has one bad day, it could cost him or her a year of school.
The goal of such tests are to put an end to social promotions. Far too often, children are promoted, even graduated, without the ability to perform or understand the classwork. But I agree that using the results of a single test is unfair to the students.
When I was in the Army, we were taught to do complex jobs using a system called Performance Oriented Training (POT). This was before that word had developed its present reputation. Each subject was broken down into its smallest components. Students had to learn each component in sequence. There were no grades. There were no tests. Only when the student could demonstrate the ability to perform each step was he allowed to study the next. I like that approach.
Using a similar system, each student would be presented with a list of requirements to advance to the next grade. When the student was able to demonstrate the ability to perform each task on the list, he would be promoted. The student would not have to attempt to prove his ability to read, write, do math, science and art on a single test, and would have as many opportunities as necessary to show his proficiency in each subject.
This way, parents, teachers, administrators and the student would have a clear picture of the student's actual grade level, and what he needs to do to advance.
I suspect that part of the objections to the use of Gateway testing is that they reveal more than the student's ability. They also test the ability of the teachers and parents. I have to wonder if some of the angry protests by parents are due to their fear that they will be seen to be lacking in preparing their children for school and providing the encouragement and support they need to do well.
As I have often said in this column, it is not the responsibility of teachers to educate a child. They are only the means to that end. The responsibility for a child's education rests on the shoulders of the parents. When a child fails, it is a failure for his entire family.
Some of these parents are likely concerned that they may have to give up their golf dates, travel plans, even some of their work hours in order to properly supervise their child's school work.
Every school child needs to be tested regularly to assure that he is learning the lessons being taught. That testing should be done in such a way that parents, teachers and students benefit from a positive outcome.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.

The Banks County News
November 17, 1999

Says shooting of dog was senseless
Dear editor:
My wife and I have the privilege of carrying our 3-year-old little girl's dog to the Comer Vet Clinic on Thursday, Nov. 11. The reason for this visit was because someone had shot "Rocky." Why? I have asked myself this question repeatedly. I would just like to know why this person shot my little girl's dog. I hope that it was as much fun to shoot as it has been trying to explain to my 3-year-old daughter why her dog has gone to be with Jesus. I know that my dog would not hurt a flea so I have no idea why he would have been shot. All I do know is that a day off to go Christmas shopping turned into a day when we had to have our wonderful "Rocky" put to sleep. Our thanks to Dr. Leslie Hart and her staff for their caring attitude and willingness to save Rocky's life. I know that to many people dogs are only animals and that many people could care less about dogs, but to us Rocky was part of our family and that will be a hard void to fill. I would like to say that I do forgive the person who shot Rocky, but I will never understand. God bless you, Rocky. We will miss you.
Steve Wood

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