CHEERS: To several dozen students at Warwick Valley High School who joined their peers around the country to march for stronger gun laws on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, in which 13 people were killed in Littleton, Colorado. Chanting “Stop the silence, end gun violence,” “Books, not bullets” and “Hey hey, ho ho, the NRA has got to go,” about 40 students walked out of Warwick Valley High School and marched to Stanley Deming Park for a rally. The crowd including parents and others from the community swelled to well over 100 by the time the march reached the park.
CHEERS: To the Newburgh school district for its initiative to boost the achievement of black and Latino male students, whose assessment scores and graduation rates persistently trail those of white students. This is a local version of “My Brother’s Keeper,” a nationwide initiative launched by President Barack Obama in 2014 and adopted by the state’s Department of Education. It focuses on six goals, including having students entering school ready to learn; reading at grade level by third grade; graduating; and completing college or post-high-school training. Newburgh has seen gains in grades 3-8 English language arts and mathematics scores for black and Latino males in recent years, but they are still significantly below scores for white students. “It is time to move from rhetoric to action,” Superintendent Roberto Padilla said.
CHEERS: To the organizers and participants in the third annual Treecyle event to celebrate Earth Day at Stanley Deming Park in the Village of Warwick. The event is aimed at educating people about recycling, reducing and reusing material goods, said Melissa Shaw-Smith, creative director for the arts group Wickham Works. One group of students made a “bring your own bag” sign by tearing up plastic grocery bags. Adult artists made projects in the spirit of recycling, including three-dimensional trees built using only materials intercepted from the waste stream. One artist, Eric Stormes, designed a tree using material he found in a roadside cleanup.
JEERS: To Orange County Court Judge William DeProspo for going easy on the wrong people. Prosecutors recommended that John and Mary Quick of Goshen spend some time in jail and more time on probation for their crimes, tax fraud for not reporting the income that they took from a developmentally disabled man who lived in an apartment in their barn and whose plight came to attention only after he was found asking neighbors for food. Prosecutors said that John Quick should spend six months in jail and five years on probation while Mary Quick should go to jail for 60 days and spend three years on probation. Instead, DeProspo promised to go easy on them, limiting the punishment to probation if they pay back the money they took. Taking advantage of a man with developmental disabilities for as long as they did is not something that the courts should ignore, as DeProspo’s approach does. There’s still time for the judge to make an example of these two because final sentencing will not take place until early June.