Your letters, June 5

June 4, 2013 

Small but powerful

I fully support Ms. Dawson’s recent letter to the editor (CHN, May 26, bit.ly/10TL9VY) protesting the cuts to the Latin program in our school system.

In my recent honors seminar at Carolina it did not surprise me that the top three students in the class of 11 had middle and high school Latin. A coincidence? I don’t think so.

I am also grateful that all three of my children have had the opportunity to take Latin since the sixth grade, one of whom had the privilege of Ms. Dawson as his teacher. Latin may no longer be spoken, but I cannot think of one profession that does not benefit from studying the language.

Parva sed potens

Dorothy Verkerk

Associate professor

UNC

Language builds fundamentals

Language builds the fundamentals for our world. Every society revolves around the ability to communicate, and our particular community of the English-speaking variety could not have evolved if it had not been for our great-great grandmother tongue, Latin.

“Why do you take Latin? It’s a dead language, there’s no point to it anyways.” That’s a comment that I’ve heard too many times to count; I’ve been taking Latin for four years.

And sure, it’s dead, but I’ve learned more grammar in my language classes than I ever expect to in English. I find traces of Latin in almost everything I read; so much of our vocabulary is rooted from this. The little group of Latin students at CHHS might be small, but it’s nothing to laugh at – the type of camaraderie found in team sports and carpools can be similarly discovered in our little language trailer.

So why end the Latin program? Why keep children – kids who love languages as much as I do – from learning about the origins of our own vernacular?

Latin is my favorite class in school, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and cherished everything I’ve learned since the first day of middle school. When I’m surrounded by people who have made the choice to study a language that’s been dead for a thousand years, I realize that they’re the ones who really love it, and I do too. There is undoubtedly a “point.”

Veronica Kim

Freshman

Chapel Hill High School

Restore library hours

I was delighted to see so many citizens and Town Council members at the dedication ceremony of the new Chapel Hill Public Library last month.

It’s good to know that our council has library patrons among its members, who’ll have experienced firsthand how dependent our community is on this town service.

Chapel Hill relies on its library to provide

• educational and recreational resources for all ages and abilities

• personal and professional enrichment

• services to our most needy

• computer access for homework and job placement

• availability of a safe, nurturing environment

attractiveness to property developers

• inducement for business recruiters

• appeal for retirees and relocating taxpayers

• access that promotes bike/pedestrian transit

• progress on Town sustainability

• community meeting spaces

• a venue for public art and enterprise

• partnership with our schools and university

• outlets for volunteerism

• civic engagement

• civic pride

• our most highly ranked town service after public safety

• hours, programs, and staff to make this all happen.

That's a tall order for any single town function.

But, it’s one that the library – at only 3 percent of our budget – continues to fill. At that modest sum, it’s a dividend that repays many times over its investment. And, it's a sliver of the budget that merits our strong sustaining.

I hope that the town will find a way to restore the CHPL to its full, regular operating hours through support for more staff in its 2013-14 budget.

Martha Schutz

Board of Trustees

Chapel Hill Public Library

What voter fraud?

North Carolina ’s Voter ID laws aren’t really meant to reduce voter fraud. They’re meant to make it harder for students, the poor, the disabled, and the elderly to vote – those most likely to oppose the Legislature’s regressive agenda.

Actual voter fraud in North Carolina is almost non-existent. Statistically, there’s a better chance of being hit by lightning than of finding a single case of deliberate individual voter fraud in our State.

If our legislators are truly concerned about strengthening our democracy and protecting our right to vote, why then are they passing laws that reduce early voting time, deny college students the right to vote in the districts in which they attend school, and eliminate same-day registration? Why do they require folks who have been to prison and paid their debts to society to wait an additional five years before they can reclaim their citizen’s right to cast a ballot?

As a U.S. combat veteran, I will continue to fight those “domestic enemies” who undermine our voting rights and our democratic ideals – even if it means going to jail. Democracy cannot survive unless we all demand it, not just for ourselves but for all our citizens, rich and poor alike.

Douglas H. Ryder

Durham

Partnerships in hard times

At a time when the public schools are being battered financially, partnerships with community nonprofit organizations take on an even more critical role.

For that reason I want to thank Community Nutrition Partnership for bringing Cooking Matters to Estes Hills Elementary School. The six cooking classes for select families brought us together through cooking, tasting, learning, and eating together. The volunteer chef, Sharon Mahofski and nutritionist, Maria Garrido-Rojo, led children and adults through healthy eating experiences. This Orange County non-profit encapsulates partnership at its best. Thank you, Julian Mickens, the coordinator of Cooking Matters for listening to our request and accommodating our needs.

Book Harvest, another local nonprofit, founded by Ginger Young of Chapel Hill, places gently used books into the hands of our children. That partnership, with Susan Pearce of the CHCCS volunteer office, provides children with bags of books to keep and to enjoy this summer through a program called Books on Break. The children are thrilled to choose their own summer reading.

The Public School Foundation, directed by Kim Hoke, is consistently among my favorite nonprofits. You can count on PSF to support our teachers and schools throughout the year. Besides helping fund Books on Break, PSF funds the summer initiative READ2ME: Tailgate Stories. Teachers go into select neighborhoods, read to families, and give books to children for their personal collections. This summer, teachers from all eleven elementary schools will go into twenty-two different neighborhoods to enjoy books with families.

Unquestionably, it takes a community to educate a child. We are fortunate to live in a community rich with resources and extremely generous in spirit.

Thank you for your partnerships! You help us manage through difficult times.

Mary Andrews

Teacher

Estes Hills Elementary

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