Letters to the editor – June 1st, 2016

Published 7:27 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Dismissing excellence

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    A few years ago, I had the honor of meeting the Carrsville Elementary School principle, Laura Matthews, through my work with children. Her deep compassion and dedication to her staff and the children she serves just amazed me. It wasn’t long after this I read that, under Ms. Matthews’s leadership, Carrsville Elementary received the following accolades: National Blue Ribbon Award for 2013, the Highly Distinguish Title-1 Award in 2014, and the VA Education Excellence Award in 2015. In fact, in 2015, the Isle of Wight County Schools administration promoted Ms. Matthews too serve as the division’s Coordinator of K12 and High Quality Assessment Development.

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    Unfortunately, now with new leadership and a new vision, positions have been cut and Ms. Matthews will no longer have a job with Isle of Wight. That’s why I’m writing this editorial. First, let me state that I have no children in school. However, I believe we should all keep in touch with what’s going on with our children in our schools and speak up for them, no matter what. Carrsville is the only school in 34 years in Isle of Wight to ever get the National Blue Ribbon Award. Only 81 schools in Virginia have been able to receive this prestigious award since 1982, and this has literally put Carrsville on the map.

    So here’s my question to all who are reading this: How in the world can anyone possibly rationalize that this new vision is in the best interest of our children? It saddens me to say that this will be our dumbfounding loss and another district’s incredible gain. Every student in Isle of Wight County Schools deserves a Ms. Matthews serving them. How can we strive for the IOWCS goal “Preparing Students for Excellence in the 21st Century” when we’re dismissing excellence?

    Michele Jones


Birds in the wild

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    Would you like to see some large baby wild birds in their natural habitat? If so, take your binoculars to Windsor Castle Park in Smithfield. About 100 yards northwest of the park’s fishing pier is a nest of three or four baby great blue herons.

    About 100 yards southwest of the observation pier is a nest of two baby bald eagles. If you want to see them, you’d best hurry. The eagles are about ready to leave their nest. The babies are all growing so fast that their parents feed them all day long.

    Please be careful where you step. Snakes are active now. While most of our snakes are harmless, even a harmless blacksnake can make your feet move really fast if you get too close before you see it.

    Hope you enjoy the park. It’s my favorite.

    Stanley Barlow


Outstanding performances

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    Sundays at Four performances are always memorable, but Smithfield’s classical music presence finds solo youth recitalists, teenagers all, who are exceptional, home-grown, and beyond fabulous.

    Occasionally, one of those teens is invited back so that locals can follow their progress. Such was the case last Sunday (May 22) when 22-year-old Rebecca Willett, already a local superstar who just graduated from the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music, returned to Christ Church to present her graduate recital here in Smithfield. She will continue Master’s studies this fall at the Cincinnati Conservatory with the iconoclastic pianist, Awadagin Pratt. Poised, self-confident, and gracious, this young pianist delighted her cheering audience.

    Her recital (all by memory of course) and played with finesse and maturity, included an elegant rendering of a Bach Suite, a Beethoven sonata with each movement’s changing moods solidly thought-out and delivered, several works by Frederic Chopin, and a Brahms Scherzo. Rebecca’s early Suzuki piano training is evident. She plays with no obvious tension— soft hands and balletic movement. She always acknowledges the teachers who influenced her from a young age, but in particular, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, with whom she studied while in high school, involving regular travel to NYC to study with him.

    Rebecca will spend six weeks this summer at a favorite summer music camp in Maine, along with her younger sister, Eliza, a violinist. All three Willett daughters are musically talented. Eliza will be one of six talented teens on the annual Sundays at Four Terrific Teen Talent, scheduled for Sunday afternoon, August 7, beginning at 4 p.m. at historic Christ Episcopal Church in Smithfield’s Historic District. There isn’t a better way to spend a drizzly Sunday afternoon, or any afternoon, than in the presence of dedicated young musicians. The future of serious music is not in jeopardy with the caliber musicians that Sundays at Four board members find year after year.

    Heidi B. Bloch


Ban all Muslims

    Editor, Smithfield Times

    Real students of history know if you do not learn by history’s lessons, you are bound to repeat them. Ever wonder what a Trojan would say about the Greek’s horse if any had lived. For darn sure the spirits of a few Trojans surely reminisced in heaven or hell: “I told you we shouldn’t have brought that “thing” inside the city walls!”

    With the statements by the heads of several intelligence agencies and the FBI Director, are you such a Fool that you think radical Islamic jihadist terrorists will not sequester themselves in the Mid-East refugee pool? Obama was never vetted by the Media, not that they could have anymore than we can with these “flowers” of the Middle East.

    As I’ve suggested to the President, put some “loving” Muslims up at your house for awhile.

    Waking up some morning may be impossible. For now, for me and the majority of “thinking” Americans, STOP until we can be reasonably assured we are not putting “the wolf in the middle of the herd of sheep (the useful idiots Dr. Carson’s referred to periodically).

    That’s my position and I’m sticking to it, until proven otherwise.

    Herb De Groft