Every year I hear "Happy Memorial Day" and it always gives me a weird feeling.
I'm not a military guy and even though my dad served in Korea. He wasn't one to talk much about his service or even his Army buddies much. I wish he were here to ask if he says Happy Memorial Day.
My real understanding of the observance comes from stories I've done over the years/ They are stories of people who don't look upon the day so much as a holiday, or the unofficial start to spring, but as a day of reflection and for many veterans, a day to remember someone they served with and who did not make it back from war.
That's not a cause to wish someone happiness. It is a time to lay a hand on a shoulder or to offer your silence to them.
The latter tends to be my means because I am extremely fortunate to have lived my life without knowing the pain of losing a good friend or relative to war.
I've also been long confused by the observance in regards to military and or just family. Much of the emphasis is placed on the reason the observance was begun - to honor those who died "paying the ultimate sacrifice," while in service of this country.
We tend also to observe the passing of veterans who have passed away in the previous year, long after their military campaign.
Some also visit graves of those who never served, plant flowers and just remember those we love even though they are gone.
All good things for our soul to keep alive memories of those who are no longer with us and tell the stories to at least one more generation.
I loved old programs that showed elders sitting around talking about stories of several generations past. We forget that only 100 years ago life wasn't always these instantaneous shifts from one thing to another and that routines of sitting together at different times of the day or week to just talk without distractions were more common.
Now we are interrupted by bell notifications nearly every other minute and we are connected to something outside of ourselves 24/7.
So a moment of reflection isn't such a bad thing.
But is it happy?
I suppose we can take the approach that those who died under the premise of fighting for our right to be free, did so that we can live free and happily. I just wonder if there is a better greeting we can use on Memorial Day?
More photos from Memorial Day observances in the Franklin area can be found by clicking here.
During coverage of recent Oil City Area School District board meetings, certain terms have been used that have led to confusion, misinformation and misdirection when describing how the "We Care Elementary" and "Sexual Abuse Free Environment for Teens (SAFE-T)" has been implemented in the schools. Here is a breakdown of terms that seem to be at the heart of the conversation, including definitions and explanations of how they apply to this situation.
Controversy is a state of prolonged public dispute or debate.
Other than a handful of parents, we haven't found how either program is "controversial". In talking with Devin Aaron, one of the group of "concerned parents and taxpayers" of the Oil City School District, the controversy in this situation may come from an affiliation of the PPC Network with Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape group. The PCAR website states on its homepage "Abortion is a human right." We haven't really found how the two curricula resources have been deemed controversial in any large scale protests or initiatives. Both are Pennsylvania Department of Education approved.
Curriculum is the subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college.
Superintendent Lynda Weller and Tracy Delmonaco, the district's Title IX coordinator admit the confusion. "Basically we overuse the word curriculum," Delmonaco said.
"When we talk about curriculum we talk about things we must provide under chapter four of the school code. PA academic standards are tied to these. So when we talk about our official curriculum, that’s what the board needs to approve. This other stuff which we may use the term curriculum really is a resource or material to help meet the standards under the core curriculum. So it gets confusing," Weller added.
Delmonaco further explained that teachers often find resources to help them address the specific needs of a given class. The teachers are trained to understand their class and know every student learns differently.
Weller admits it has been confusing and that in discussions that end up in board minutes and agendas the use of the term curriculum needs to be more precise moving forward.
Sex education or sex ed is the provision of information about bodily development, sex, sexuality, and relationships.
These programs facilitated by PPC have been referred to as sex ed on more than one occasion. "Absolutely not," Weller said when asked if the healthy relationships program is sex ed. She said the lessons are part of a Sexual Abuse Prevention Program and that they are different from sex education taught in health class.
Sexuality is a person's identity in relation to the gender or genders to which they are typically attracted; sexual orientation.
From a script read by the facilitators of the SAFE-T program, “The term sexuality is an umbrella term. This means it is a word that we use to describe a number of different things. Your biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual feelings and sexual expression. The sheet was give so that students can think about the definition of each and match terms with appropriate definition. As you can see sexuality is a very complex thing that is unique to all of us. Misinformation about sexuality can sometimes lead to hurtful or unhealthy behaviors.
These things were discussed prior to handing out a worksheet that made its way onto social media without the context of the lesson.
Technology is machinery and equipment developed from the application of scientific knowledge.
One of the issues facing today’s kids that perhaps their parents or grandparents did not face when they were growing up is the ever changing use of technology. These school curriculums and resources are designed to address this head on.
“This (the PPC facilitated programs) is not meant to replace those tough conversations that parents should be having in the home, it is supposed to only be a tool to get there.” Tracy Delmonaco said.
“I think parents are naive about what their children are accessing. ‘My child wouldn’t be doing that…’ well do a little digging and you might be disappointed.” Weller said about what kids are doing on their devices. “It’s right there at their fingertips.” Weller said there has been an increase in use of devices for bullying and innappropriate behavior.
Transparency is the quality of being open to public scrutiny.
The “Concerned Parents and Taxpayers of OCASD” claim a lack of transparency from the administration. Tracy Delmonaco, with a two-inch thick folder of information relating to correspondences and resources she said she has shared with the parents, said she has tried to answer every question in a timely manner. She admitted a period of eight days when she took vacation time to work on her dissertation where things weren’t answered in a timely manner. She also admitted a couple other incidences when she needed to get information from others where it may have appeared she was avoiding answering questions, but said that was never her intention.
Weller concurred and added the administrators are dealing with a multitude of issues and priorities and that things sometimes take time. Weller added that the office has tried to supply information ahead of time and when asked, they invited PPC to set up an information table at an open house and sent letters home. Realizing that perhaps, not every letter sent home is delivered, they will now implement robo-calls to parents and guardians when they send important information home.
Weller also admitted that when the threat of lawsuit was mentioned, that changed how the district is allowed to respond.
According to Devin Aaron they do not wish to bring suit against the district.
Unilaterally is used to indicate that something is done by only one person, group, or country involved in a situation, without the agreement of others.
The term "unilaterally" has been used to describe Dr. Lynda Weller deciding to use these programs. Weller, worked with the district's Title IX coordinator to chose the programs. She also told the board about the program before implementing it.
Editor's note: Bryan is seeking nomination as a Republican.
File photo of PENNCREST School Board President Luigi DeFrancesco speaking during a meeting in 2021
I have been struggling as to how I could ethically even cover the PENNCREST School Board happenings. I have personally been vocal about the issues surrounding the school board actions and have engaged the school board president many times regarding differing views on just about everything under the sun.
Today, reading through the stellar work of the teenage student journalists of The Panther Press covering changes to school board policy wording, I realized I don't even have to worry about how I cover this story.
They are on it.
I'm reminded how journalism came about in the first place. This country is founded on checks and balances. The fourth estate is predicated on the fundamental notion that power corrupts and there needs to be someone, preferably many someones, to keep check on power.
The Panther Press is a student newspaper, well its a student news organization utilizing many platforms to spread information they gather. They cover the sports teams, they feature a student artist periodically and they write several feature articles about staff and students as well events at the school. Traditional student newspapers are fluff usually at best.
This young group of journalists tackle hard topics and, out of necessity, are the watchdogs of the folks that run their district, and in essence, have power over their news organization's ability to exist..
Kudos to the students and advisors as well as the district for not squelching their ability to be professional journalists. The result is this group has been gaining credibility and are being referenced by much bigger news organizations who find their work, not only credible, but exemplary.
The most recent bit of investigative reportage came after the school board passed what some consider controversial policy changes. This staff covered these changes and wrote editorials to boot challenging authority. This is the root of American democracy being played out on the front lines. The action of the school board even led to the resignation of the district's solicitor and the Panter Press was all over this story before any of the rest of us.
Here are some of their stories:
At the core of it all
The Panther Press reported that the superintendent and DeFrancesco said they will search for a new solicitor.
These are young people standing up to authority and questioning their actions. This needs to be applauded because this is the very foundation of democracy and perhaps the best civics lessons being taught in school. This school district may very well be a hot mess, but it is allowing for the best of the best in the first amendment and freedom of the press.
Below is what is on the Venango County website lays out for what the duties of the commissioners are.
The commissioners are responsible for the overall management of county operation as it relates to:
In addition, the following county divisions direct report to the Board of Commissioners for the provision of services:
The Commissioners serve on the following boards directly related to county government:
The Commissioners also have a seat on or appoint people to serve on a variety of community boards of directors such as:
The Venango County Board of Commissioners is elected to serve a term of four years.
Anyone seeking to publicize their candidacy for commissioner and email their announcement to email@example.com for consideration of publication.
Full transcripts of the official announcements made so far can be found by clicking on the Editorial tab of the website. Mathew Beith Chip Abramovic
Opinion and Editorial page
The thoughts expressed on this page are items for consideration. They may at times be controversial, but hopefully they are always insightful and spur thought and debate.