29 FEB 08: LEAP YEAR OF FAITH
Hey, look at that - it's "leap day," which only happens once every four years. Does this mean it's OK to tell your enemies to take a flying leap?
The rare leap day isn't the issue in several area schools - Thursday the 28th was. An estimated 300 students stayed away from Shaw High School, due to rumors of possible violence. The rumors turned out to be false - proving again that you should only trust what the Shaw in-school newscasters say.
The larger concern Thursday involved Northside High School. District officials say someone spray-painted a threat inside a restroom. Graffiti with ink pens apparently is too downscale these days....
Muscogee County School spokesperson Valerie Fuller says the threat left inside Northside High School referred to Virginia Tech - but did NOT mention a shooting. If someone made a comparison to Kansas's Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech in January, I hereby disavow any knowledge of it.
Muscogee County Schools announced a day in advance that extra security would be in place at Northside High School. They should have mentioned something else about Northside, which might have deterred criminals - it's the school with champion marksmanship teams.
As it happens, a similar threat involving the 28th and Virginia Tech was discovered in a restroom at Harris County Carver Middle School earlier in the month. Authorities announced an arrest in that case - yet about 16 percent of Carver's student body still stayed away from school Thursday. Getting a math lesson by watching "The Price is Right" isn't quite the same.
(I didn't realize until Thursday that the student accused of leaving the Harris County threat is female. If this proves anything, it shows not all middle school students want tickets to Hannah Montana concerts.)
You're left to wonder if the threat inside Northside High School was inspired by what happened in Harris County. It probably wasn't done by one of the school's brightest students - since the ones struggling with their grades are more likely to cheat, and copy other people's work.
If all of this sounds familiar, it should. Rumored threats of trouble at Muscogee County schools seem to surface every spring - but usually not until April. Has February been THAT cold and rainy, leaving students with little to do?
(And of course, there was the speculation of criminal trouble near Brookstone High School last August. Nothing came of those rumors, either - so maybe it's time some parents limited their teenagers' access to the game "Grand Theft Auto.")
In fact, the only real trouble around area schools this week had nothing to do with students at all. Hardaway High School, Richards Middle School and Clubview Elementary were put on lockdown Tuesday, while Columbus Police searched for several burglary suspects. The suspects were arrested before they could start struggling with locker combinations in a hallway.
One mother told the evening news Thursday Shaw High School should be closed today as a precaution - but Muscogee County plans to have all schools open as usual. To borrow a phrase, isn't this a case where closing the school means the "terrorists win?" And don't many teenagers have to learn sooner or later that much to their surprise, they are NOT immortal?
The only area high school which is closing today is Eufaula - and the reason has nothing to do with violence. The girls' basketball team is playing for an Alabama state title in Birmingham. Do you see how education is eroding in this country? When I was young, you only received a day off AFTER they won the state championship.
E-MAIL UPDATE: Here's a response to the exclusive story we broke Wednesday-Thursday, about an arrest involving a Pioneer Little League board member. We're again editing out some details, until we can confirm them separately:
Hey Richard. I wanted you to be aware of the fact that no mention of this was made to any parents. Quite possibly it will be under wraps until he is convicted. The sad part of the story is that this man is allowed to run a business geared at children.... and is allowed to be at Pioneer since he kids play there. My child played with his son while playing under Coach Miley last spring season and I never would have thought it. Now I am disgusted.
I fear my children being around anyone that even thinks of doing things like that, much less actually does it! An indictment tells me that the charges are valid enough of proof. What can the league do to protect my children? Send them to the bathroom in pairs is not enough. And for the board to say that they didn't know? I wonder if that is true. What is the world coming to when you can't go to a ballfield and feel safe around your friends and team members?
Rick has been a horrible president of this league. It is true that the answer to any parents complaint is to go to another league. He told many of the Pirate's parents, including me, last season to go to Northern and offered directions!
He does make the coaches purchase uniforms from DCR. Last year the uniforms were horrible for the $75.00 each that we paid. The pants and hat of the uniform were the wrong size and color and I had to have his pictures done with it that way. And it's not like I could say I didn't want it since it wasn't what I ordered. The man had my money and my son had to wear a uniform to play. I think this time I will pay after I get the uniform and it is right just to protect myself.
Thank you so much for looking into this. I know that this is a horrible revelation and I can understand if you never mention it again due to this. But please be remember that you help people be aware of things going on in this town that many of us would not know about without you writing it. You have done a great service to your readers by following up on this for everyone involved.
I think I speak for everyone by saying we appreciate your effort in all that you cover. I hope that everyone that started reading your blog due to the Pioneer problems last spring still continue to read this blog and know about this.
Be careful, Christi - Ron Harris is NOT indicted yet. A grand jury does the indicting, and the case has yet to reach that stage. And remember, David Glisson was never indicted for the Kenneth Walker shooting - so it's possible the bright-orange "pants and hat" for Harris won't quite fit, either.
All the Little League web sites in Columbus seem to have links to each other. So if you're looking for an alternative to Pioneer, its own site can help you find one. I'm going to step out on a limb, and assume Northern is north of the Pioneer fields.
We'll leave that issue there for now -- and now get caught up on news stories from the last couple of days:
+ Columbus State Rep. Calvin Smyre spoke at an Atlanta rally against a proposed state consumption tax. Smyre said it would impose taxes not only on groceries, but on trips to the barber shop and beauty salon. Why leave a tip for your stylist, when you can give one to Governor Perdue?
+ Kia executive Randy Jackson spoke to the Columbus Rotary Club, and said Georgians need to start buying Kia vehicles. Someone should tell that man the assembly line isn't finished yet - and some of us are trying to avoid the shipping costs for cars really built in South Korea.
(I realized long ago there's a fallacy in the phrase, "Buy an imported car and you put ten Americans out of work." If I buy a U.S.-made car, am I not putting ten people in other countries out of work? Maybe if I avoid buying ANY car, everyone will keep their jobs.)
+ Georgia Congressman John Lewis announced he's switching his support in the Presidential race from Hillary Rodham Clinton to Barack Obama. If that seems surprising, just watch what could happen if Cynthia McKinney becomes the Green Party candidate.
(Didya hear about the movie Democrats are preparing for this fall, about John McCain? It's called, "STILL No Country for Old Men.")
+ Cairo eliminated Carver High School's girls from the Georgia state basketball tournament. DeRon Furr is being missed in the Carver locker room already....
(Which reminds me: Why isn't the Carver High School state football sign posted yet at the 13th Street Bridge? The sign celebrating Northern Little League's World Series title two years ago went up much faster than that. Are we waiting for a shop class to make the sign without any misspellings?)
+ Auburn University athletic director Jay Jacobs told the evening news men's basketball coach Jeff Lebo is "laying a foundation" for years to come. Hmmmm -- you know, some other coach could be hired to build the actual building.
+ Instant Message to Signature Salon, at Armour and Warm Springs Roads: OK, I give up. I'm stumped. What is this "Massage O Gram" you're selling? Does someone pound a message on my back in morse code?
COMING SOON: Local fact and fiction about the presidential race.... and we hear from another Pioneer defender....
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