Welcome to the Letters To The Editor section

Letter To The Editor & Panhandle ISD Basketball Fans

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Rarely does a person fight a battle and have both sides – the hometown and the visitor – rooting for them. I not only witnessed this phenomenon last Friday night at the Panhandle/Wellington girls’ area playoff game, but I was also the recipient of the incredible generosity shown by fans from the two rival towns. It’s difficult to put into words how blessed I felt to have both sides cheering for me in my battle with cancer. My family and I were overwhelmed by the love and support shown to us.

If we could thank each person individually we would, but since that is not possible, please accept this expression of our profound gratitude. Your generous donations will be a huge help with travel and medical expenses, but even that can’t compare to the uplifting you produced in my spirit.

I will never forget what you did for me and my family. God bless Panhandle!

Daryon, Shannon, Nathan, Marlee and Major Brown

Editor’s note: Shannon Brown, English Teacher and Coach at Wellington, is Dana Ford’s cousin. She’s been undergoing treatment in Amarillo, but had to go to Houston today for surgery. The cheerleaders from both teams passed a bucket for collections during half-time at Friday night’s game.

Letter To The Editor

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

(Editor’s Note: Billy Dan Hughes was a beloved member of our community, working for Carson County for many years. He was a 1974 graduate of Groom High School. Billy Dan passed on Jan. 16, 2013. This is a testament to how one man can make a big difference.)

Dear Editor,
In the late 40’s Eastridge Baptist Church was founded as a mission church by Grand Ave. Baptist in Amarillo. At the time the need for a church in Eastridge was prompted by a thriving Air Base and the need for a church to minister to those families stationed there and the people who worked on the base.

EBC grew rapidly and quickly outgrew the house church where it was meeting. Property was secured and a new building (about 30’X 80’) was constructed. Well the need for more space came quickly and several buildings actually from the Air Base were brought in and added to the structure. The final piece of the structure was added in 1954, a 400+ seat sanctuary which housed multiple services until the late 1970’s. Then what would seem to be the worst possible thing that could happen became a reality — the Air Base was closed. People left the Eastridge Community in droves. Houses were empty everywhere and you could have one for pennies on the dollar.

It seemed as though God was through with the relatively young church. Attendance began to decline rapidly. What remained of the congregation was a group of people dedicated to serving God in the Eastridge Community. At that time the language makeup of the community was primarily English and Spanish. But then something special began to happen. With the end of the Vietnam War, there began to be a need for communities to welcome refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Eastridge was a natural place for refugees to settle, with many empty homes and meat processing plants located nearby. When the refugees began to arrive, Eastridge Baptist came forward to sponsor the first Laotian Baptist Church in Texas. This was only the beginning. The core group remaining at Eastridge were not stopped by the radical changes, they knew God had a plan.
Part of the ministry that reached out to the community was a bus ministry where Bill Dan Hughes took great pride reaching children. He worked in the background desiring to make a difference for the kingdom of God regardless of where the children he picked up were from.

Throughout the years, many more refugees came and by 2010 Eastridge Elementary was serving students that spoke 23 different languages; only 8% of the community spoke English.

The church now had only about 20 English speaking members and a small Laotian congregation. At that time the church felt God leading to reach out to more of the refugee groups. The decision was made to reach out to the Karen, a language group from Burma. Before long about 120 Karen were attending EBC and Dawe Po was called as associate pastor. Ministry at EBC was anything but “normal”. Ministry included a food pantry and a partnership with High Plains Food Bank to feed over 100 children per day during school, assisting refugees with food stamp and medicare applications, making doctor appointments etc… Although there were many ways to minister, it became clear that a need for a “Mission Center” for the purpose of providing a safe place for children year-round was needed desperately.

The church voted to build the Mission Center even though the current budget was not being met. The church gave the $15,000 they had to start and the Laotian church gave $10,000. A good start but a long way from the $300,000 it would take. Other individuals and churches began to give and before long the total grew to $50,000. To avoid a price increase in steel our builder encouraged us to buy the steel ($50,000) and store it, so we did. After a year, we had collected about $10,000 more. Reluctantly, we decided to secure a $130,000 loan to complete the “shell”. By the time we finished the shell, we had $20,000 in the bank. Several churches came forward to help and got the framing completed. But we were still far short in finishing the project. Then another miracle happened. For years, during all the difficult times, we would arrive at the church to find groceries by the door and a note that simply said “Mr. Eastridge”. We had no idea who “Mr. Eastridge” was. In early 2013 the groceries stopped. Just as we were praying and wondering where the funds to complete the building would come from, we were contacted by Robert Redmon, Jake Lopez and Jigger Britten, the trustees for the Billy Dan Hughes estate. Yes, Billy Dan Hughes was our Mr. Eastridge. As the story unfolded, Billy’s love for the Eastridge children, community and EBC had never died. He continued to watch and pray for the community hoping he could help to feed the children and even be involved in some sort of building to minister to the children and community. Before he passed away, he was able to see the beginning of the building. His gift completed the construction and retired the note on the building! Billy Dan Hughes was faithful in life and death to the dreams that God planted in his heart. The dream that he had, lives on in the faces of children every day.

Mike Garman, Pastor
Eastridge Baptist Church

Letter To The Editor

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Why are we happy being good at a bad system?

Lately there has been much discussion about schools; their policies, curriculum, programs and etc. Schools tout their excellence on state tests or their varied curriculum and technology advances, but I would rather hear from their students four or five years after graduation to see how their “excellent test scores” served them in college or the work place. And although there are complaints that “The system is broken” or “The current education system is bad” everyone seems content to continue to try to operate by being the best at a bad way some may still wonder if things are all that

In my opinion, yes they are. The state of Iowa has been ahead of the testing game and has tested its students with a standardized test since 1942. The data from the Iowa Test of Basic Skills showed that from 1942 to 1970 students were making steady improvements in math and reading. Since the 70’s, however, there has been a troubling downturn. No Child Left Behind has been left behind because since its inception in 2002 there have been no improvements in math and reading proficiency in students. Based on the long term trend data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress the math scores for students are now only slightly better than in 1960 and the reading scores are lower.

While these are Iowa statistics, I believe they show a disturbing trend in the education system as a whole. The idea of a broad-based education that includes exposure to fine arts, science, social studies and more from a young age is intriguing, but let’s remember the old adage: “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

It is my opinion that we must first give our children the opportunity to MASTER the basics, not just cover them. Our teachers are pressured to “cover” all the material that the state deems critical for a year with no time to consider whether or not the students have truly learned and will retain the knowledge or skill they are teaching.

Everything is “test driven” or “data driven”. I wonder what happened to “student driven”. You remember the teacher that could look at your face and know whether or not you understood. Some teachers needed only to see the top of your head and hear the sigh to know that more time, more practice or more explanation was needed. Now we expect computers to allow our students to learn at their own pace, but I have yet to see a computer that knew the difference between a lucky guess and a knowledgeable choice.

The pressure of academics has resulted in a drastic reduction in P.E. and recess, which research shows, is actually counterproductive. Students learn better when they are physically active. In fact, they should have at least 60 minutes of activity a day to reach optimal learning potential.
In conclusion, please consider your own education experience and whether the changes we have seen in our schools these past years have truly been improvements in education or whether they have just been change. Are we improving education or are we just trying to reinvent the wheel? I believe now is the time to have a meaningful discussion on fixing the system.

Stacy Fields Detten (signature on file)

Letter To The Editor

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Dear Editor,

Panhandle High School is doing great! We’ve begun a robust fall full of rigor and challenge. Publicly, folks may have noticed our sports teams’ successes and struggles (which I know does us good) as well as our band’s efforts to choreograph a new and exciting show for contest; and hopefully, our fans have noticed a larger and very athletic cheerleading squad.

Beyond the public eye, our students and faculty are in the midst of responding to the rising standards and student expectations of our world, our state, our district, and our campus. Our 12th graders have been challenged to top off their college entrance exams with higher scores this fall and spring – as most of you are aware, high ACT and SAT scores translate into college scholarship $$$$$!

Every ninth, 10th and 11th grader on our campus is engaged in practical learning that addresses both stated requisites for post-secondary readiness and the state-imposed assessments that help determine if our campus is staying current and relevant. Our high school faculty has taken the reins of site-based decision making and have implemented reading initiatives that have every ninth, 10th and 11th grader reading and doing reflective writing.

This sounds like a simple process, but if you have kept up with state trends, our public school student’s ability to write in expository style (a type of written discourse that is used to explain, describe, give information or inform) has been lacking. PHS teachers spotted this trend early and built into our schedule a time slot and a plan to face the challenge of this new standard; I applaud them…and so should you.

This is just a taste of the hustle and bustle of the Panhandle High School Campus – come see us, come share with us, come be a part of preparing the youth of Panhandle to impact the world.
See you at school,

Jerry Schaeffer, Principal, Panhandle High School

Message From The Editor

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

The Panhandle Herald wishes to welcome the Panhandle Progress subscribers this week. The Herald purchased the Progress’ subscribers along with several other aspects of the Panhandle Progress.

The Herald and White Deer News will continue business as usual as we attempt to bring our readers the local and county news. Our office remains at 319 Main Street and the phone number is 537-3634.

We wish Margie Braidfoot well on her new endeavors and feel certain that she will be successful in whatever she chooses to do.

Letter to the Editor

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

I have been told that people, who live outside the Panhandle Independent School District, have offered two checks of $10,000 each with more to come, are attempting to buy the right to name the Panther Stadium for a person of their choosing, Stocky Lamberson. This decision should be the wishes of the residents of the district. Would this have been discussed by the board if there was not an offer of money?

A gift with strings attached is no gift.

Should naming school facilities be for sale?

The name “Panther Stadium” honors every Panhandle athlete that has played Panhandle football and coach that has coached Panhandle football.

Please let the PISD Board Members Mike Vance, Chris Ray, Jowannah Powers, Randy Kennedy, John ”Bubba” Smith, Derek Heck, and Terry Coffee know your thoughts on this.

Don Bednorz (signature on file)

Letter To The Editor Notice: The Panhandle Chamber Of Commerce Needs Help

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

There comes a time in the life and duration of any civic organization that requires a change of course and direction. At present we have an attendance of six to eight dedicated members at monthly meetings who have tirelessly volunteered many hours at Chamber events. As these few enjoy their retirement more and more they are experiencing less time to give to these events.

While looking at options to increase participation, we have gone as far as questioning the very existence of a Chamber of Commerce in Panhandle. In the past few years we have experienced a dwindling number of businesses in our city. This well known fact shows that we are going to have to depend more on the citizens of Carson County. Even though we have become somewhat financially solvent and are in a position to sponsor some celebrations and events we do not have the manpower to staff these events.

At this time, let me reiterate that you do not have to own a business to become a chamber member. We simply need your help in many different forms of volunteerism.

We will be having a meeting on April 30, 2013 at 7 p.m. at the Hazlewood Building of the Carson County Square House Museum at 503 Elsie Street in Panhandle to analyze the interest in keeping the Chamber alive.

We are asking that you please attend this meeting if interested to share your ideas and support. For more information, please contact any Chamber member or Chamber President Rick Easter at 537-4325.

Rick W. Easter
(signature on file)

A Letter To The Editor: Lunch With The Representative

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

The PHS yearbook staff consists of eight junior girls: Meghan Ray, Michaela Roberts, Keylee Mayfield, Mary Cate Neeley, Hannah Stamps, Shelby Schilling, Jodie Detten, and Kendra Reining. In the fall, we entered a history contest held by the Friends of the Governor’s Mansion. We researched buildings with historical importance in Carson County and put the information into a PowerPoint presentation. Keylee and Shelby won “Best Overall” and an opportunity to meet Governor Perry. Since we would be at the Capitol, I contacted Representative Four Price and told him we were coming to receive this award, hoping for a photo opportunity with him. His office responded quickly and asked if they could host us for lunch. I was very fortunate that my administration told me I could take all eight girls with me.

We made it to the Capitol on Monday, April 1. Rep. Price’s Chief of Staff, Hal Talton, met us in the Rotunda and started giving us a tour. While we were on the House Floor and Mr. Talton was explaining how bills are passed, Rep. Price walked up to us and actually continued the tour with us. We were able to sit in his chair on the House Floor, we saw the clerk’s room where the bills actually go into law, we visited the Speaker’s chambers, and then Rep. Price took us to his office. He and his staff hosted us for lunch. Rep. Price was with us from 11 a.m. until 12:45 p.m.

At 12:50, Shelby, Keylee, and I went into the Governor’s Reception Room and spent twenty minutes with Governor Perry. He was very personable as he explained how important Texas history is and thanked us for making the trip to the Capitol.

Afterwards, Mr. Talton continued the tour with us and took us into the gallery as session was starting. Rep. Price went to the front microphone and asked for everyone’s attention while he recognized our group from Panhandle. The girls stood up and waved and “felt famous”. Mr. Talton then walked us to the Texas Supreme Court and told us how the Justices operate before walking us to the Texas State History Museum. Mr. Talton was with our group from 10:15 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Rep. Price and his staff will never know the impression that was made on these eight girls from Panhandle High School. For the 490 mile trip home, they discussed how down to earth, considerate, invested, genuine, and honest Rep. Price was. Thank you, Representative Four Price, for showing us that not all politicians fit the “politician mold” that the media portrays. We appreciate the time you, Mr. Talton, and your staff put in so that this will be a school trip that we will be talking about with future generations.

Mika Sloan, PHS Technology Teacher
(signature on file)

Letter To The Editor

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

CScope is not the spawn of Satan. It is not evil. It is a tool. I am a middle school social studies teacher who has used CScope since its inception. It is a tool just as a gun is a tool, and you’ve all heard the expression, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” It is the same with CScope. In the right hands, CScope can be an effective tool, but in the wrong hands…well, you know about guns.

I understand there has been a lot of chatter on Facebook lately about CScope. Parents are concerned. Good. I am glad parents are concerned about their children’s education and are discussing it. I do, however, think they are attacking a phantom while the real monster lurks in the shadows.

First, let me address some of the concerns I have heard: CScope as curriculum. CScope does not set curriculum for students in Texas. Content found in CScope lesson plans comes from the Texas TEKS, or Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. The TEKS are THE curriculum for Texas school children, and the TEKS are set by the Texas legislature (State Board of Education). These TEKS are readily available for all to see online at the Texas Education Agency website (Google it). CScope has taken these TEKS and aligned then vertically, from kindergarten through grade twelve, and designed units and lessons to HELP teachers teach them in a cohesive way. Therefore, if you don’t like the fact that Christmas has been cut from the curriculum, complain to your senators and representatives, not to TESCCC (owners of CScope).

Transparency. Why, parents ask, can’t we log in to see lesson plans, etc.? This, to me, is pretty eacy to understand. First, CScope is purchased and only those who have paid for the content have access to it. Second, compare CScope to the teacher’s guide and teaching materials of a traditional textbook-based system. A student would not be issued a teacher’s guide or would not have access to other instructional materials, including tests, nor would a parent expect him to have access to these materials. On the other hand, if a parent wanted to visit with the teacher to view teaching materials, I do not know of a teacher who would deny them access, and CScope had never requested that we sign any kind of confidentiality agreement. Some school districts may require that of their teachers, but ours never has.

Oppressive working conditions of teachers. I do know that some school districts that require their teachers to teach CScope lessons verbatim and to spend only (and exactly) how much time CScope allows for each lesson. None of the CScope trainers I have ever encountered at Region XVI has ever told me to teach the lessons exactly as is. Ever. Quite the contrary. They have emphasized time and again the CScope is only a tool, one tool that educators may have in their arsenal. The lessons are designed to HELP teachers get started – use them, don’t use them, modify them, etc. The scope and sequence is of much greater value, the theory being that if all teachers in a school district, at all levels, in any particular subject, followed the scope and sequence, there would be no gap in the children’s education. Therefore, if teachers find themselves forced to follow CScope lessons verbatim, to teach a lesson exactly as written for exactly a certain number of days, I would say that directive is coming from their local administration, not CScope personnel. Remember what happens when a gun gets into the wrong hands?

Is CScope perfect? No. No system of this nature is. No textbook, no online curriculum. Not one. To me, CScope’s greatest weakness is the pace of the lessons/units. I think it is highly unrealistic. I have heard CScope personnel emphasize the need to forge ahead, even if students have not mastered current material. I strongly disagree with this reasoning. To paraphrase Bill Page, one of my educational gurus, children cannot make sense of nonsense, and no learning is taking place in that situation. Again, My school district has never required us to follow CScope so closely. Nor have I ever been monitored by anyone, district or CScope, to see that I am doing so. I do, however, think that many teachers fear this could be required in the future.

I have found CScope to be a very useful tool in my classroom. Honestly, one of the aspects I have found particularly useful since the advent of STAAR (last year) has been the CScope assessments. As anyone who has seen it will attest, the eighth grade social studies STAAR test is a doozy! The eighth grade CScope social studies assessments are quite rigorous. They definitely demand a higher level of thinking than the TAKS tests of old. I have been very pleased overall with the performance of the majority of my students on these assessments this year. I sincerely believe the rigor of these assessments has benefited all of my studnes. They have been forced to truly stretch mentally, and it is so rewarding to see them do so!

Public education in Texas (and possibly the whole country) is broken. CScope, in my opinion, is certainly not THE problem. It may be a problem, and it definitely has its own problems. But I do not think it is THE problem. The real monster is the Texas legislature. We are testing students excessively and inappropriately (STAAR) – again in my opinion – and those mandates come from Austin. And, like it or not, the testing is driving what educators are doing (and using) in the classroom. Education loves to throw around words like “differentiation,” but every kid still has to jump through the same hoops (STAAR) to succeed. Until we can fix that and truly education children as the individuals that they are, give them the education that they as individuals need, and stop forcing them to all fit into the same mold (STAAR), public education will remain broken.

So, please, keep expressing your concern. But let’s take it to the next level. Let’s bombard our representatives with letters and faxes and emails and tweets! Let’s tell them what we as parents, and educators, want for our kids. And le’t back up our complaints and requests with votes! If you don’t like legislated educational mandates, vote out the people passing them! Quit re-electing the very folks who are cutting educational funding or supporting high-stakes testing. Let’s attack the real monster together and maybe make a real difference for our kids. Remember, it’s not the gun’s fault; it’s the person who pulls the trigger.

Mary Fulce
Panhandle, Texas
(signature on file)

P.S. Christmas is included in the sixth grade social studies TEKS – 6.19B, to exact. Easter is there, too

Letter To The Editor

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Once again it is springtime in the Texas Panhandle and plans are already being made for the Annual Panhandle Veterans Hall of Honor Banquet. This project was started in 1990 and was initiated to recognize and honor those outstanding Panhandle veterans who have distinguished themselves in the service of our country. Over the years, we have inducted individuals from Pampa, Amarillo, Canyon, Claude, Miami, Higgins and other area towns. These honored inductees have been recipients of such awards as the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and even three who received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

We can never completely show our appreciation to these individuals for their bravery, love of country and unselfish sacrifices; however, in this small gesture we hope to let the living and deceased know they are not forgotten and their sacrifices were not in vain. Unfortunately some of those we honor have gone on to their final resting places; however, we feel confident wherever they are, they will hear their names called and know they have not been forgotten.

In years past, to be eligible for induction into the Hall of Honor, the nominee needed to meet one of four criteria: born here in the 26 county Texas Panhandle, raised here, went into the service while living here or served at the Pampa Army Air Field during World War II. Because of the interest in this program, the board of directors has elected to expand the eligibility to include: those individuals stationed in the 26 counties during their service, any individual who moved to the Panhandle after being discharged and made significant contributions in or to the military services and individuals who served in the Merchant Marine, Coast Guard or civilians such as those who fought beside the Marines at Wake Island in World War II.

To nominate a deserving individual, we need a short narrative on their life, the branch of the military service they served in, the awards they received and if possible a copy of citations that accompanied the awards, plus any copies of newspaper clippings pertaining to the nominee. In the narrative, we are encouraging the writer to tell about the nominee’s contributions to his or her community following their years of service in the military.

This will give our selection committee a better idea as to the overall merit of the individual. We need to have all the nominations in no later than June 1. After the selection committee has made their selection, the new inductees will be notified. The banquet will be held on Saturday, Aug. 17, 7 p.m. at the VFW Post, 105 S. Cuyler in downtown Pampa. Please address nominations to
Panhandle Veterans Hall of Honor

c/o John L. Tripplehorn
Freedom Museum USA
600 N. Hobart
Pampa, Texas 79065

I will look forward to receiving all nominations, and it is truly an honor for me to be associated with such outstanding veterans.

John L. Tripplehorn, President