LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Deplores loss of art program
After I heard that Sellwood Middle School wasn't going to have an art program next year, I was furious and disappointed. I was a three-year student, and the best memories of middle school for me were art. It was an escape for me. I suffered in math and PE, and the only place were I could be me was art. It was somewhere where I could get away from everything that was happening, all the gossip, all the 6th grade stuff, and I was put in a place where a friend, and a teacher, believed in me. If I didn't have an art class, I'm not sure what kind of person I'd be today. The art room was such a positive place for me, and I want what I had for the kids younger than me. They're growing up in a material world, and they should experience something more than just iPods, Blackberries, and designer jeans. The current art teacher, one who has been teaching for 34 years, is retiring. The Principal at Sellwood has not planned any course of finding a new art teacher and has told the parents to raise money for art. All that Lizz Capps has worked for all these years will go right down the drain if we don't take responsibility, and fight. So I encourage you to do the right thing, question what Sellwood Middle School is doing as a school, and ask yourself if there is anything you can do to help us in this struggle for art. Thank you.
Anna Gaudin, via e-mail
Cross over the bridge - in a minibus
Every weekday, a small shuttle bus transports students between Lewis and Clark College and New Seasons Market at 13th and Tacoma over the Sellwood Bridge. In December, I contacted Tri-Met about providing a similar service between Sellwood/Eastmoreland and the TriMet bus stop at Nevada and Macadam Avenues in SW Portland, reestablishing a public transportation corridor between the two sides of the river. Grant Hein of TriMet's Transportation Planning/ Customer Service department replied on December 14 that TriMet's shuttles that meet the ten-ton-per-vehicle weight restriction are part of the LIFT Accessible Transportation Program. "Our legal obligations,' he wrote, 'require that these buses are used strictly for that purpose.' He did not say whether these obligations are placed by the insurer or the funder, but it is beside the point. The bridge will not be replaced soon, and the weight restriction will not be removed. In the meantime, as your issue of April, 2008, states, the problem needs to be resolved. Mr. Hein assured me that TriMet is 'actively involved with the commission charged to replace the Sellwood Bridge and join you in looking forward to the benefits it will bring to our community.' Unfortunately, that won't get the job done. I suggest that residents and business people in Sellwood and Eastmoreland shower TriMet with demands that it spend the funds to purchase the 2-3 shuttles needed. If Lewis and Clark College can solve this problem, TriMet can.
James Lewis, S.E. 15th Avenue, via e-mail
Great article on 'HONK' [the musical play performed on stage at Cleveland High School], and thank you to the writer, David Ashton. However, I wonder why you didn't include the actor's name who portrayed Ugly, the leading character. Ugly is sitting in the picture with two other kids, both of whom are named in the article. My son, Michael Chaffee, played Ugly, and did a fantastic performance. It's disappointing to the kids who worked so hard and weren't named. You also left out Matthew Faunt who played the dad, Drake - and Frog, who was performed by Josh Olmstead. If you name a few of the leads, it's a good idea to name them all. These kids want and should have the same recognition. Thanks again, though, for the article. It's really great of you guys to get all over the place as well as you do.
Cindy Chaffee, via e-mail
Sellwood Middle School in greenhouse partnership with PSU
In partnership with Portland State University, Sellwood Middle School has developed a plan for the construction of a greenhouse, and plans to enhance learning by engaging students in experiential science instruction. Sixth graders from Sellwood and college students from a civic leadership class at PSU were challenged to research and design a greenhouse. Their plans included building shape, construction material plans, location, as well as aesthetic and functional features that will make the greenhouse both beautiful and useful. To inspire ideas student representatives from each sixth grade science class toured a 5,000 square foot state-of-the-art research greenhouse at PSU. Greenhouse Manager Lane Greer helped the students identify the design elements that are necessary for a functional greenhouse. Each student then developed a greenhouse plan. With the help of PSU students, each sixth grade class collaboratively selected the best elements from each individual design and came up with a single greenhouse plan. Ultimately, with the input of all the students the entire sixth grade was able to work together to design a greenhouse plan that reflected the collective thinking of all. 'There's a remarkable amount of enthusiasm in students, which is shown in their work,' said sixth grade science teacher Martin Olsen.
PSU's motto is 'Let knowledge serve the city.' This partnership has demonstrated the values supported by their motto by engaging college students in a community-based learning experience. Not only has this collaboration given the university students an opportunity to connect knowledge learning in the classroom to real-life community issues, but it has given sixth graders a voice a project that will shape their learning. 'Rarely do students get the opportunity to work and collaborate together with other people besides educators in the classroom,' said Principal Helen Nolen. 'The hands-on experience definitely makes the students want to learn more,' said sixth grader Alex Etchepare. The project moves on to the next phase as grants are being written, and partnerships continue to be built.
Armenia Sarabia and Anthony Tham, Portland State University, via e-mail
Reed College and Parker House
Reed College is renewing its request to the City to open a conference center on the Parker property, off-campus in Eastmoreland. In March they sent a letter to Eastmoreland residents characterizing themselves as good faith negotiators and the neighborhood as pig-headed. The new proposal is essentially the same one made in 2006 and it remains objectionable for all of the same reasons. In denying Reed's initial request, the hearings officer concluded, '…the potential 'frequency of use' schedule, as described above, could significantly lessen the appearance and function of the surrounding residential area.' The numbers for frequency of use in the amendment are essentially the same numbers originally offered by Reed. The home they propose to convert into a conference center is located on the narrowest and shortest street in Eastmoreland. The other residents of Moreland Lane will be severely inconvenienced by up to 500 visitors a month, up to 200 in a single day. The college's position has always been that they can not function in more than an advisory capacity with regard to parking, recommending to students and staff that they use college parking lots but doing nothing further to regulate abuses.
The original 2006 meetings hosted by Reed were chaired by an outside public relations man who was not authorized to make any changes to the proposal. His job was to sell the proposal, not to accept any input. Reed administrators did not actively participate in those meetings. Any complaints or suggestions for changes in the plan were politely but firmly rejected. The plan submitted to the city with respect to the Parker property did not incorporate any changes or reflect any of the concerns voiced repeatedly at those meetings by neighborhood residents. Current promises about controlling parking and limiting the number of people attending functions are regarded with a high level of skepticism. Reed has a history of doing what it wants without regard to neighborhood concerns. Reed obtained the permit to remodel the Parker property by filing a false application for remodeling a residential property. Nothing was revealed about a conference center. The subsequent claim by Reed that events at the property would be no different than would happen if the president lived there is so disingenuous as to be laughable. Finally, and it almost seems irrelevant in the face of all other arguments, Reed does not need to expand into a residential neighborhood. Because of their continuing efforts to buy up all property around the campus, they already have plenty of space to build on. That includes the empty site of the now demolished Eastmoreland Hospital at 28th and Steele.
James Wygant, Eastmoreland resident
Two didn't care for March story
Regardless of the positive comments you received for the headline story 'Too Nice a Day to Die' (March BEE), the letter to the editor written by Jill Torberson, 'Protests headline story' (in the April BEE), was closer to my feelings. As a title and article - with all due respect to the nice weather, the fine intentions and interesting coincidences that saved a person's life - suggests a rather light view on the tragic event of an attempted suicide. As Jill Torberson writes in her letter, 'Many people suffer from depression and mental illness'. Indeed, mental illness affects 1 out of 5 Americans, including our Sellwood community, and would be an appropriate subject for an article in a community newspaper like THE BEE. 'Too Nice a Day to Die' missed that opportunity.
Pedro Ferbel-Azcarate, 9th Avenue, Sellwood
That's a sign of a small newspaper. . . The headline was a bit 'hot' and considering the subject matter, a bit flippant as well, in my opinion. No reason to shoot the messenger, or worse yet, your readership.
Nancy Mack, S.E. 45th
Thanks from Cleveland High
I would like to thank the community for its outstanding support for 'Cleveland Reads'. On March 19th about 100 members of the Cleveland community (students, parents, teachers, and neighbors) came together to talk about 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.' In addition to the rich discussion, those in attendance were provided with tasty treats courtesy of Starbucks. Thank you to everyone involved. The next event planned to support the Cleveland High School Library is the Spring Bookfair. The Bookfair will be at the Lloyd Center Barnes and Noble on Saturday May 17th from 12-5 pm. The community is invited to support literacy at C.H.S. by shopping at Barnes and Noble that day. Barnes and Noble will donate 20% of total purchases to the Cleveland Library.
Theresa Quinn, Teacher Librarian, Cleveland High School
Friends of Trees needs more friends
Whitney Dorer, via e-mail
All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.