Monday dawned cold and raw. Ended better, but really; it’s April 30. Enough.
A lot going on this past weekend, I think. A street fair in Carmel drew throngs of people; finally, a taste of spring and light jackets, even shirt-sleeves. Local business supporters were thrilled by the reception. Sunday, my daughter and I attended the Putnam Chorale performance at the Starr Ridge Banquet Center. Enthusiastic crowds all around. Don’t mope and say ‘there’s nothing to do.’ Go find it!
Jennifer Maher, chairwoman of the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, writes in this issue about a review of key priorities with lawmakers, and surely making it easier to do business has to be one of them. All over the county, business people are putting money and futures on the line. In front of the Courier and PCNR’s new home, in fact, on Stone Street in Cold Spring, our landlord is installing new sidewalks this week. That kind of thing takes money, but it takes faith, too, that municipal authorities will support growth and improvement.
At the end of the day, it appears the Carmel School District has calmed the waters, but it was a mighty close call. All the more striking realizing that Superintendent Andy Irvin (hailed with an educational award nearby on this page) is himself a veteran, of the Army.
The story begins with a Career Day at the district’s George Fischer Middle School last Friday. An “optout” form allowed parents to check their children out of the First Responders military presentation. This section, first responders, included police officers, firefighters, EMTs and military personnel. But, apparently, someone overthought this and determined that the day might run afoul of rules relating to military recruiting in schools. Even though it was, simply, a career day. And, a lot of people, many of them from Putnam County, have decent and honorable careers in the military.
Anyway, “Students whose parents do not wish them to listen to the military personnel will be escorted from the presentation prior to the military personnel speaking,” the form said. The “escorted out” phrasing was particularly galling to Richard Othmer, himself a veteran and the father of two currently serving, implying the students somehow needed to be protected from the military staff. (See his letter nearby.)
A subsequent letter signed by Irvin and Principal John Piscitella, but on Irvin’s letterhead, told parents this about the first missive: “Please disregard the instructions contained in that letter.” He apologized, closing, “As a veteran myself, I have nothing but the highest level of respect for those who have or are serving in our Armed Forces. Our students should have the option to access any and all information about options for their careers or career paths.”
It’s positive Irvin reacted quickly. He told me Monday that the day had gone well. “All career day presentations were treated the same; no opt out option for any one presentation.”
The military is an honorable career choice. We are safe, and free, because of those who serve.
Until next week.
Douglas Cunningham is publisher of both the Courier and its sister paper the Putnam County News and Recorder, in Cold Spring. Letters on this or other topics are welcome. Limit to 500 words. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.