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op frBy John Beckman • Guest Columnist

There’s a lot to be said for making careful plans in our lives, crafting a logical, well thought out path to get us from point A to point B without getting too lost in between. How we navigate through the multitude of choices and directions we have in life depends on a variety of factors derived from all that we have seen, heard, learned, experienced and dreamed. 

By Dawn Gilchrist-Young

Of the 120 or so 12th-graders I teach each year, about two-thirds have jobs outside of school. Of those two-thirds, there is a large number who work 30 to 40 hours a week. Their jobs range from bagging groceries and stocking shelves, to cleaning motel rooms, to chopping, splitting, and delivering firewood. As I included in my first column about the teaching I do at Swain County High School, the per capita income in 2011 was $19,506. For 2012, the projected income was $19,089. Of the county’s 14,000 residents, 3,000 live below the poverty level, and of those, almost 1,000 are children, including my students. For most readers, these are merely numbers, but for me, as a teacher, they are numbers that have faces.

By Doug Wingeier • Guest Columnist

Back in March, my wife and I, together with a couple from Brevard, paid a visit to Congressman Mark Meadows, R-Cashiers, in his Washington office. We were part of an event called Ecumenical Advocacy Days, in which some 750 members of faith communities from across the country spent a long weekend learning about issues of poverty and hunger, then fanned out across Capitol Hill visiting our legislators to urge passage of a Farm Bill that would:

By Dawn Gilchrist-Young

I’m writing this because I teach three sections of senior English at Swain High School, where I’ve taught English in grades nine through 12 for almost 15 years. However, I can only say I’ve loved what I do for 14 of those years, and that’s because my first year in public education left me neither time nor energy to ponder the luxury of how I felt about my work. Having no time to reflect is typical for a first-year public school teacher. 

op frMy people are rooted in the South. On both mom’s and dad’s sides of the family, very few have moved far from North and South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. It’s not one town or a single homeplace we embrace, but nearby relatives and their pull, a blood kinship that runs deeper than my understanding of it.

 

Because of that — or, perhaps, in spite of it — I grew up with a bit of wanderlust. During high school and college, there were summer adventures with friends to the Carolina coast, out west and down to the Gulf of Mexico, trips where I took whatever work I could and used the money to move around a bit more. 

op frBy Doug Wingeier • Guest Columnist

With all the current media attention being focused on Syria, budget deadlines, Obamacare, and the floods in Colorado, the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. Yet, migrants are dying daily in the Arizona desert. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents continue relentlessly detaining and deporting hard-working, tax-paying immigrants, thereby breaking up families and depriving us of contributing members of society. 

Bright, deserving youth are denied admission to college, and their creative potential is lost to us. Millions are spent on border security that could be used to meet our domestic needs for healthcare, education, and social services. Yet migrants continue to cross to escape violence and poverty at home (the push factor) and seek jobs here (the pull factor) in order to support their families.

op frFrom the very first few days I lived in the mountains — as an 18-year-old freshman at Appalachian State University — late-summer days have always gotten my blood pumping. The fresh, cool breezes that suggest the coming fall do battle with the lingering summer heat scream at you to get outside and do something, anything but stay inside and inactive. 

Saturday was one of those days. A few clouds punctuating a blue sky, warm in the sun but cool in the shade. By the time noon rolled around the chores were still stacked up like a winter’s worth of cordwood, a neat pile that one could have chosen to keep working on. Or not.

op frBy Doug Wingeier • Guest Columnist

It doesn’t seem to matter which political party a president belongs to: if he wants to go to war he’ll find a way, regardless of what the American people may want. We are tired of war — civilian and military deaths, billions drained away from domestic needs, lives disrupted, families separated, futures ruined. 

One president falsely claimed weapons of mass destruction. Now another wishes to rain death on Syrians in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons. Fortunately, though, this time he has agreed to seek Congressional approval. So we must urge our representatives not to grant it. Here are some reasons we can use to persuade them to refrain from military action:

op frI’ve always loved school. Consequently, I detest what the General Assembly is doing to education.

As a kid, I knew that looking forward to school each day put me in a minority. Maybe it was my parents’ influence. My dad was a high school graduate and the son of a textile mill foreman in Cheraw, S.C. He joined the Navy as soon as he could and got the hell out of Cheraw. My mom quit high school when she got married at 16 but earned her GED when she was in her 40s. I always felt that they both had high expectations for me — the youngest of three boys — from a very early age.

op frThe photo ID requirements included in the new voting law passed by the General Assembly and recently signed by Gov. Pat McCrory are problematic. Still, if it was just a voter ID law there wouldn’t be so much hell being raised about the bill’s ramifications. It’s the other voter suppression measures in this over-reaching bill that have many scratching their heads and wondering just what’s going on.

As most anyone who follows public policy in this country knows, voter ID laws — a requirement that every person have a state-approved photo identification card before being allowed to cast a vote — are being passed in many states and are very controversial.

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