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Christian school concerns valid and need addressed; Valedictorian speech hard to hear, but important

Glad to see so many people wanting gun control

I'm so glad to hear that many people like me want gun control in this country! I am a gun owner, but no one but the military and the police should have an automatic weapon. Other countries can't understand us and our obsession with guns. We need to wake up! Write your congressman if you want them to do something! Anything!

Ann Crawford


Statements on Christian school building inaccurate

In the article titled "One door closes and another door opens" was the quote, "The school buildings were built by community members, not the church. Our school buildings were built by parents and community members."

Nothing could be further from the truth. The quote came from a reputable, honest, ethical person for whom I have much respect. The problem is this person didn't arrive in Prineville until many years after the school was built, so she was only repeating something she heard, probably from someone she respected and considered a reliable source. That source was either deliberately altering the narrative or was equally ignorant of the facts. That makes the quote hearsay, gossip, and/or rumors.

If you haven't noticed, there is a lot of that going around lately. People are taking stands, repeating things they have heard, spreading hearsay having either no firsthand knowledge of the subject or only having one side of the issue. If you are going to take a position on an issue, then you should have firsthand knowledge of both sides of that issue and be accurately informed from the principles.

Repeating what Karen said that Bill said will almost always make you really stupid on the subject.

My name is Neal Mapes. Sue Uptain, school founder and I, co-managed every aspect of the construction of Crook County Christian School. I was on site virtually every day and personally put thousands of hours into the physical construction of the buildings. Building 2, the cafeteria and high school classrooms, was built largely by Merle and Kay Kellog, contractor and church members. It was also the treasurer and wrote every check, paid every bill, so I am intimately aware of who built CCCS. It was a large project and of course a few parents lent a helping hand, but total outsider participation was a very small part of the project.

Crook County Christian School was built and largely paid for by the members of First Assembly of God Church.

Neal Mapes


Change to graduation speech guidelines good to see

"I was shocked as I listened to the valedictorian's speech," said one high school administrator. "It was not the speech we approved!"

High school and district administrators were quick to acknowledge the inappropriateness of that speech and its impact on the audience and the community. They quickly met and began to set in motion new procedures and guidelines to ensure that future student speeches will be appropriate to the graduation venue. Some of those procedures could include:

• Require a specific earlier deadline for submitting speeches for approval

• Require the student speaker present their speech to a staff/community committee for approval or suggested rewriting

• Have one master binder that every scheduled speech is read from, on station, at the podium, i.e. No one brings anything to the speaker's stand

• Other policies are still in discussion

School officials are acting appropriately, and I must commend them for being sensitive to the community's feelings and acting swiftly to make sure the same doesn't happen in future graduation ceremonies. Thank you, Crook County staff, administrators and school board.

Larry Nelson


Christian school concerns valid and need addressed

After reading the article about the High Desert Christian School and Crook County Christian School situation, I would like to share my personal experience with both schools.

My children attended Crook County Christian School during their middle school years. Their education during that time was exactly what they needed to thrive. The school was small but growing and well administered. Recently, but before COVID, one of my granddaughters attended High Desert Christian Academy. She, too, received what she needed during her three years there. Her teachers were always supportive and encouraging.

Before COVID, I became aware that some of the teachers' morale was slipping. There was large teacher turnover. Often, when I went to the school, students were hanging out in the office during what I assumed would be class time. As a result, I felt confidentiality was compromised. I also heard of financial woes. The article referenced a list of concerns, which I feel has validity considering my personal experience. Corporate governance was not explained, but I wonder if it could be referring to the fact that HDCA Board includes two spouses of employees in the administration office. It would be difficult for the board to hear and manage staff concerns with an unbiased mind. Conflict of interest?

The idea of an oversight committee appears to be an attempt to help HDCA look at valid concerns but has been rejected by HDCA. Their response is "we are not denying.…but we are building on positives." Building on positives is good, but correcting problems is not building on the negative. By "not denying," but also not addressing them, how is HDCA going to proceed without carrying those same issues to their new location? Someone very wise once said, "If nothing changes, nothing changes."

Crook County is large enough to have two private schools, but I hope ALL these issues can be resolved with honesty, integrity and respect toward each other.

Golda Condron


Valedictorian speech hard to hear, but important

Recently, I read many negative comments including one published here in the Central Oregon, about a speech made by the valedictorian at graduation. I had to listen for myself to see what the uproar was about, as I was not there.

Ms. Cooper shared stories of classmates that were very difficult to hear. It was not pretty or pleasant to listen to. It wasn't the "typical" graduation speech, but it was important! It was obvious that she did not want her speech to be focused on her achievements but instead to focus on her classmates that had been through extremely difficult things and had managed to overcome adversity with strength and courage. Those people were graduating beside her and had given permission to share their stories under assumed names.

As I watched her speech, I felt courage and compassion in her voice. She put a great deal of thought into what she wanted to say, and it deserved to be heard no matter how hard it was for some to hear. As a community, we need to be aware of these types of things, so that we can better address them and provide the education and support that is needed.

I am proud of Ms. Cooper for her bravery, her compassion, and for sharing these very difficult stories and to the "Jesses," the "Charlies" and the "Lous," I care, and many others care.

Congratulations on your accomplishments and overcoming such very difficult circumstances in your lives to succeed. Please keep allowing your stories to be told because someone else is going through the same thing and they need to know they are not alone. Best of luck in the future!

Becky Groves


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