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Editorial: Roses and raspberries (Aug. 15)

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Rob Saxton interview 05

Community members hold up signs in support of GAPS superintendent candidate Rob Saxton as he was interviewed by the school board of directors.

ROSE (roz) n. One of the most beautiful of all flowers, a symbol of fragrance and loveliness. Often given as a sign of appreciation.

RASPBERRY (raz’ber’e) n. A sharp, scornful comment, criticism or rebuke; a derisive, splatting noise, often called the Bronx cheer.

ROSES to Rob Saxton, who was named the interim superintendent of Greater Albany Public Schools last month in the wake of the no-cause termination of former superintendent Melissa Goff.

Some may disagree with the expedited process that led to Saxton’s hiring by the GAPS board, or they may disagree with the lack of explanation regarding Goff’s firing from that government body.

But Saxton’s credentials are unimpeachable and his statements should ease any concerns about his leadership.

Saxton has strong ties to both South Albany High School and West Albany High School, and has served as a high school math teacher and football, wrestling and track coach locally.

He also was an assistant principal at West, went on to become a principal and superintendent elsewhere, and served as Oregon’s first deputy superintendent of public instruction.

Saxton is an educator with a strong track record who cares and is clearly invested in Albany and the surrounding area. He’s a great choice to lead GAPS for the next school year.

RASPBERRIES to a new Oregon law that eliminates the requirement that students pass a test in basic math, reading and writing proficiency to graduate high school.

We understand many of the arguments against these standardized tests, such as how some students don’t perform well on high pressure exams, and how such tests don’t measure their determination, ability to work in a team and other factors that lead to success. Students will still need to take the same amount of math and language arts classes to graduate, as well.

But assessment is a critical part of our children’s education, and it’s imperative for the state to understand how students are performing to make adjustments in instruction. Where are students lacking and how can we help them succeed?

This sort of testing seems especially important during the pandemic, so we can see how outcomes have changed during remote and hybrid learning.

ROSES to residents who raced to battle a barn fire near Harrisburg. Every farmer within a 10 mile radius apparently rushed to the scene with their private water tankers, which are a necessity in these parts.

Harrisburg firefighters should also be commended for coordinating with these residents and using their combined might to fight the flames.

This sort of response and cooperation isn’t anything new for Linn County. Farmers are often the first line of defense against field fires here in the grass seed capital of the world, and some blazes are extinguished before public safety agencies even arrive.

Local agencies actually educate local farmers on how they can best work together to fight fires. Oftentimes, volunteers for local fire districts are farmers themselves or once worked on farms.

So the swift reaction and teamwork with the hay barn fire wasn’t exactly surprising. But it’s still heartwarming to see neighbors helping each other out.

ROSES to the Riverside Community Hall, which is turning 100 years old.

This has been a place to mark milestones for the Riverside area, which sits off Riverside Drive between Albany and Corvallis in Linn County.

There have been baby showers, graduations, weddings, family reunions, craft markets, fairs, political rallies, 4-H meetings and more held at the hall over the years. Outside the building, a spruce tree was planted in 1948 to honor those who died during World War II.

The Riverside Community Hall continues to bring residents together in a very real way. A recent $46,000 face lift, with funds raised by community members, helped spruce up the site, but also created stronger bonds in the rural area.

A public celebration of the century mark for the structure has been cancelled for the time being, and that’s understandable given the pandemic. But we’re certain that this important building will remain a gathering place for decades to come.


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