Your letters, July 2

July 1, 2014 

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An awesome night

I joined the Project Graduation committee this year. I knew it was big. I had heard about it since I started high school. But I never imagined it would be like this.

The first Monday of every month all year long in a large room at East Chapel Hill High School kids from all the high schools and their parents met together. It was there that we planned, discussed and decided how to pull off this giant party.

The night was a great success! Thanks to over 200 community volunteers, everything came together on Saturday night, June 14. It was thrilling to see 71 percent of all seniors in the district as well as over 300 guests participate in the event.

The theme, chosen by students, was “The Great Gradsby.” Chapel Hill/Carrboro Project Graduation has partnered with the UNC Student Union to sponsor the event for 22 years – since the very first event. This year, the union was decorated with festive signs, curtains and feathers to fit the theme.

From 11 p.m. until 4 a.m., kids had a chance to celebrate with their friends. There was food and music as well as all kinds of fun entertainment. A feature entertainer was a hypnotist. He hypnotized almost 40 kids, making them put lipstick on themselves, pretend to drive a car, and laugh out loud.

Karaoke gave everyone a chance to sing, even if they weren’t part of an a cappella group.

The bungee jumping and bouncy obstacle course were a big hit. Kids gathered to get their photos taken in the photo booth. They tried sumo wrestling and even got henna tattoos. There was a huge casino where kids played a variety of games all night long. There was a DSI comedy show, dodgeball and swing dancing.

And there were the prizes.

Over $75,000 was donated by businesses and individuals, which helped to fund $20,000 in scholarships to the seniors at the event. Other prizes included TVs, Amazon and Target cards, backpacks, video cameras, Beats earphones and even an iPad.

This could not have been done without the support of the community. Thank You on behalf of the entire Project Graduation committee. It was an awesome sight to see all of the seniors celebrating this defining moment together. I am so lucky to live in this community.

Allie Parker

Rising senior

Chapel Hill High School

 

Housing policy hurts

In regard to “Housing Policy at odds qwith Chapel Hill’s values” (Your letters, CHN, bitly.com/1nzW1UN), I support the recommendations of the Justice In Action committee.

Since 2008, I actively worked with men at Orange Correctional Center who were to be released having served their sentence. The two necessary items for reentry are a place to live and a job. Through prison work-release programs they often have their foot in the door with a job. However, a place to live is difficult with the requirements for rent and utility security deposits.

I was surprised to learn that public housing was not available to them as noted in the commentary, not even to rejoin their family if they welcomed them. Through further investigation, I learned that HUD did allow local discretion, but it was at the initiation at the local level. Although I found examples in other local jurisdictions, I never found such discretion was used in Chapel Hill.

I realize that case-by-case review takes additional time and that prediction of reoffense is not a science. However, I also know from review of the literature and personal experience that if there is welcome and support in the first two to six months of release, the chance of reoffense is less likely. In addition, if an individual is settled with a roof over their head and a small income, that small platform allows them to get their bearings and expand their base of confidence.

If we do not follow our charitable contributions and cheerleading with actions, we do not build a stronger, safer community. Our justice system metes out the punishment. When that has been met, we should use our tax dollars to assist people with records to build their lives and meet them with basic human respect.

Jan Dodds

Chapel Hill

The Lord’s providence

I have never felt that taking someone’s life, even with the death penalty, was morally right. I am also against abortion. I cannot create life, therefore I have no right to take it away. Although I have five children I did not create their souls. I was a part of an instrument to give them birth.

Recently when my husband was very ill I had to decide to call in hospice. Yet again I felt only God should decide when life should end. I was faced with a tough moral decision. My husband’s life was ending, and I wished to smooth the way. But I felt that I could not anticipate his death. That was the Lord’s providence not mine. Yet I prayed the Lord would take him since there was no hope for life of any quality.

Hospice did come, and soon after Christmas the Lord did take Bill home.

I feel very strongly that to willfully take a life is evil. Either by the death penalty murder or by abortion. I cannot create new life or give a child a soul, therefore what is not mine to give I must not take.

When the Lord took Bill the end of December, I felt at peace at last. Life is a precious thing, and I have no right to kill people either for a crime or for unwanted children. I have no right to decide when an old person should die.

I have an adopted grandchild from China where girls are not wanted. Yet this child, now 10, has brought great joy to her family in America. I cannot conceive of my life without Celia.

Ariana Mangum

Chapel Hill

Controlling nature

Consider the crape myrtle:

There’s a way to tame this tree-like shrub

to optimize the beauty of its architecture

where limbs and trunks are allowed to spread

gradually upward, spiraling elegantly, twisting gently,

of differing sizes and shapes, as unique as flames,

inviting you to caress the pinkish skin-like bark.

We appreciate the artless artful of nameless caretakers

who’ve taken time over years to love and train

it to perfection.

All too often though another myrtle’s on dispay.

It stands like a punished criminal

philosophically reconciled to mutilation,

its several uniform trunks slashed regularly in spring

at roundish joints like elbows, bulging layers of scar

brutally obvious until eventually new growth,

small stems and bright green leaves,

disguise the injuries as if they’d never bled.

It’s only someone's idea of expediency, efficiency,

yet we exclaim “crape murder” as we come upon it

unexpectedly and complain:

“Isn’t the world ugly enough already?”

“Have you – unnamed torturer – no shame?”

Elizabeth M. Earle

Chapel Hill

Hazardous behavior

Kudos to Mark Dubowski's June 22 political cartoon in which a cellphone user reaches the Pearly Gates and St. Peter guesses that he was killed in a car accident, while in the background a judge states that driving while talking on a phone is OK.

Yes, the N.C. Supreme Court did rule that only our state government may regulate the use of phones and infotainment systems while driving. While the court's opinion makes cellphone driving legal, it does not make it safe. This remains a very hazardous behavior on par with drunk driving.

With the court's ruling, North Carolina joins five other states (Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma) whose legislatures have specifically pre-empted their towns and counties from regulating car electronics. Furthermore, with a conservative North Carolina legislature safely gerrymandered into place for this decade, there is little hope this will change.

Watergate taught us to follow the money. Here, car and telecom companies win, while insurance companies lose. Why aren’t State Farm and Allstate offering premium discounts for drivers who refrain from cellphone use when driving with the stipulation that should a driver on a phone cause an accident, they pay only the victims’ claims?

Joe Capowski

Krista Slough

Chapel Hill

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