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Guadalupe monument degrades

religious beliefs

First of all, I would like to say that I respect the diversity in our town. I understand and have reverence for everyone's religious beliefs.

Something that really bothers me, however, is the new monument of the Virgin Guadalupe placed at the cemetery recently. The reason it bothers me is because they are assuming that we all believe and pray to her. That is not true and to see something like that placed on public property is very selfish and irrational.

I know many other people will agree when I say that having a monument like that is completely demeaning and against our religion. In Exodus 20:4, one of the commandments says, "You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven or above, or that is in the earth or beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God..."

I am aware that the Virgin Guadalupe is associated and is traditional to the Hispanic population, and since we have such a large Hispanic community it would make sense to presume everyone worships her. Nevertheless, I am a Latina myself and many others just like me also believe this is unreasonable and absolutely degrades our religious beliefs.

/s/ Maggie Ramirez, Sunnyside

Mabton school administrators doing good job

I attended the meeting at Mabton High School Friday evening (5-20-05). The main question seemed to be, why is Mr. Castilleja's contract not being renewed.

It was explained every way possible that it is illegal for the administrator to disclose that information, because Mr. Castilleja has a right to privacy. However, if Mr. Castilleja wishes to release that information, he is perfectly free to do so. I would think he has some documentation that outlines the reasons his contract will not be renewed. If he shows (the parents) that document they will have their answers. If he refuses to show them that document, then they still have their answers.

I was in Mabton last week during school hours. I saw 20-plus grade school children sitting on the filthy sidewalk with their feet in the gutter, protesting this issue about the principal. It was a most disturbing sight. These children are being exploited. It seems to me that if Mr. Castilleja were doing his job, those kids would be in school, not out protesting on his behalf over an issue they can't possibly understand.

The school board members have done a fantastic job for the district with no pay and little thanks. They certainly don't deserve to be attacked as they are now.

The teachers in Mabton are some of the best in the state. We put five children through the Mabton schools and every single one of them got a good education. Four of them went on to college and scored in the top of their class. They are all productive members of their community, and they can thank Mabton schools for the great beginning they received.

I have known most members of the administration for many years and always found them to be reasonable, and to have the best interest of the children as their top priority. The suprintendent is new this year, but from what I have seen, she is doing a remarkable job, and doing it under extraordinary circumstances.

Being a superintendent, principal, teacher or school board member is not a popularity contest. Each has a specific job to do and if they are not doing it they are hurting the district as a whole. The superintendent has the difficult job of seeing to it that the district runs smoothly and that the children are getting a good education. The key word is EDUCATION, not dances and BBQ's.

I fully support the administration, teachers and school board to make decisions that are in the best interests of the district and the students.

/s/ Pat Schlegel, Mabton

Mabton conflict disheartening

Ten years ago I began my teaching career in Mabton as a fifth grade teacher at Artz-Fox Elementary. At the end of that first year I was looking through the class photo album with several students and happened to remark, "I can't wait to share this picture at graduation - it will get a lot of laughs!"

One of the students replied, "You won't be here for our graduation. You'll be gone by then. All of the teachers leave Mabton. Why would you want to stay here?"

Four years ago, I did leave Mabton. In my case, that student was right. I was not there to see him graduate. I had moved on. My husband, also a teacher in Mabton, accepted a job offer in Spokane and, after much deliberation, we chose to move. During this time the comment of this former student came back to me. I felt a great deal of guilt for "abandoning" the Mabton community and the families that I had come to love.

However, this student was not entirely correct. There are a large number of teachers in Mabton who have not left. They have chosen to dedicate their time, love and talents to the children of Mabton. They are not there because they were not considered for jobs somewhere else; they are there because they would not consider jobs anywhere else. Mabton has become a part of them, and they have become an integral part of Mabton.

It is disheartening to read and hear about the current situation in the Mabton schools. My heart goes out to the teachers and the families as they struggle to resolve the conflicts that have come before them. As community members sift through the information being released by the media, school board and school administration, I ask that they also take a moment to pause and reflect on the following questions:

Who taught your child to read?

Who held his hand and walked him home after school when he forgot to meet his older sister?

Who stayed after school every day for weeks on end to make sure that your son didn't feel lost and confused during math class?

Who has spent hours worrying, planning and preparing lessons to help your child succeed?

I am sure that your answers to these questions are the names of many of the teachers and instructional assistants who have been working in the Mabton schools for more than the last 10 years.

A few last questions to ask yourself? Why is there conflict now? What has changed in the last year to create such strife for the Mabton community?

The change is not in the teaching staff, nor in their dedication to the students and families. So...what is it? Who is it? What are you going to do about it?

/s/ Lorrin Jurasin, Spokane

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