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The News-Times' mailbag has a dash of youth this week as we share submissions from Banks High School students.

Editor's note: Have a letter to share? Email your thoughts to Editor-in-Chief Mark Miller at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Letters should be no more than 400 words. All submissions must include the name and hometown of the author. Commercial solicitations will not be accepted as letters to the editor. Submissions should not include profane or defamatory language. We may lightly edit submissions for style and clarity.

Soccer fields need even surface

Imagine you're in the middle of an intense play and the soccer ball gets passed to you. You're right in front of the goal. As you're about to kick the ball, it rolls to the side because the ground is uneven and you've lost your chance to score.

Having better maintained fields can eliminate those situations and make the game more fun. Banks High School needs to change their fields to turf or put new grass in. Banks' grass has injured our players, but new grass would be way easier to play on.

As a present soccer player, I know the consequences of playing on a bad field. Whether it's patchy grass, or basically just dirt, you can get injuries very easily. I've had many experiences where I'd get a twisted ankle from a hole in the ground or something similar.

I can still remember it to this day, I was running to open up the play when all of a sudden, I tripped and twisted my ankle. A hole in the ground had tripped me and we lost possession.

Playing on a well-maintained field makes you feel like a better player, while playing on patchy grass feels like a waste of your time.

In conclusion, not only does having a bad field affect the players and their health, but other teams too. To keep good competitions and healthy games, Banks must maintain their fields. I am asking that Banks start a fundraiser to change Kelly Field into a turf field. All of the grass-using sports could use it and our practices would be even more efficient. It will take everyone's help, but in the end, it will benefit all our athletes.

Elijah Hecht, Banks

Banks shouldn't be moving to 3A

I have only been at Banks High School for eight months, and my theory is that I don't need any longer to realize how dominant we are in every sport.

In 2018-2019, Banks was the "golden child" of the 4A Cowapa League, for they became the first Oregon school to win state championships in boys basketball, boys baseball and football in the same year since Valley Catholic did it almost 35 years ago.

Even though they accomplished this feat, during the 2022-23 school year, the Braves will be switching to 3a athletics. Moving down will be un-beneficial for our athletes and programs.

For context, in order for a school to be eligible for 4A league play they must have anywhere from 311 to 607 students enrolled for that year. Banks only has 269 students, therefore excluding them the opportunity to continue competing at the 4A level.

Even though this is the case, I firmly believe that Banks' success in sports should be an exception to this rule. Schools such as Pendleton, North Bend, The Dalles, St. Helens and Crook County also indicated that they were victims of the enrollment cutoff. After those teams had been moved down, Banks High School athletic director Ben Buchanan's method was: "With the range of student population, it's a lot for a school our size to be playing schools like that all the time, especially when we're shrinking. That was kind of the tipping point."

Even though it was obvious the decision Banks had to make, it shouldn't have been a decision at all. We should not have to drop down to a league with teams that stand no chance against us. Which is why leaving the league that we have dominated every year since 1994, racking up countless championships, will be so hard.

Banks athletics just won't be the same without these games with Astoria, Tillamook, and finally Seaside. Oh man, did Seaside always have me on my feet. Just last week, we played them at home and had a pretty comfortable win. [Ed.: This letter was received on April 29, 2022, the week after Banks defeated Seaside 5-0 in a baseball game at Banks High School.] But dang, it was loud in there. Nobody still had their voice by the end of the game.

While on the other hand, our newly found success in the new Coastal Range League will be immaculate, due to us being so much superior compared to the new teams. The league will consist of: Banks, Corbett, Neah-Kah-Nie, Rainier, Warrenton, Yamhill-Carlton and Riverdale. There is always room for new rivals, but who knows how long that will take? Will any of the teams be good enough to rival us?

Personally, I believe the concept of teams playing up derives much more room to grow and become great. Even though this won't happen until after I have graduated, I will still continue to compete to the best of my ability.

Harry Gardner, Banks

How to solve our gun violence epidemic

Perhaps considering the constant drumbeat of mass shootings that has been plaguing our country, we should keep our flags permanently at half staff.

Why are we killing each other in such large numbers? Maybe that question cannot be answered simply, but here are two suggestions that might mitigate the problem:

First, ban the manufacture, sale and possession of semi-automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines. No one needs a gun that is strictly for killing people.

The Second Amendment talks about "a well regulated militia..." May I remind everyone that in the 18th century when that was written, militias were one of the few ways we had to enforce the law and to take on external threats? Now we have police forces at all levels and a huge national military. And the guns that those militiamen carried only shot one bullet at a time!

My second suggestion is that we take a serious look at the way boys and young men are raised and socialized in our culture — because the vast majority of these attacks are carried out by that demographic. Some (thankfully not all) boys seem to learn early that both verbal and physical aggression are not only acceptable but desirable.

As a young person growing up here in Forest Grove in the '50s and '60s, I saw this over and over in terms of bullying and other threatening behavior between boys. And sometimes (far too often) it was encouraged or at least ignored by parents and even teachers.

Boys do not need to be raised this way. Kindness and consideration for others are values that we can instill in all our children.

The result of these two actions could be many lives saved.

David Pauli, Forest Grove


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