In And Around Hannibal: October 6, 2012

by Rita Hooper

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I’m old enough to remember when Sputnik went up. If you are too young to remember, you missed an exciting period in American history.

On the other hand, I also lived through the long drawn out Cold War. While everyone seemed to live on the edge with the idea of war in the back of their heads, it never happened. If you don’t know what the Cold War or Sputnik were…“Look it up!”

I’m chuckling as I remember those were 3 of Clara Mae Thompson’s favorite words!

It was 1957 when the Russians launched Sputnik – that was 55 years ago this month. I was in eighth grade I think. Ike was president of the U.S. Remember those “I Like Ike” buttons?  Sputnik led to the Space Race between the United States and Russia.

Three years later, John F. Kennedy became president (that was another interesting election – religion was as much a divisive issue then as race is today.)

In 1961, JFK asked VP Lyndon B. Johnson to look into the space program of this country and what might be done to help NASA to catch up with Russia.

Doesn’t seem possible in light of the slow moving of government today, but LBJ returned within a week with his recommendation. He assured the president that there would be enough time for the country and NASA to catch up and surpass the Russian program.  That led to the famous speech JFK gave at Rice University in September of 1962.

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the presidency.”

That speech was given in my senior year of high school.  Immediately, the impact was felt throughout the schools of the nation. The sciences and math courses were emphasized. We had to beat the Russians and any American (including students) worth his salt wanted to do his part to make the U.S. number one again. Languages were also rising to the top in importance as, once everyone was in space, the world would indeed become a smaller place.

Fast-forward 55 years. The world has gotten smaller and the U.S. is once again lagging behind or struggling to stay even.  Nationwide, our schools have about a 30 percent drop-out rate. Last week, I read that the SAT scores have dropped at the national level. There are any number of reasons why – more children are taking the tests, more one-parent families, it takes two working parents to support a family, too much emphasis on sports…I’m sure you can think of lots more. Doesn’t matter, the results are the same.

We all have a part to play in making the US number one again – a true world leader. Government has its part to play, employers and employees have a part and yes even parents and students and teachers do too!

We have lots of excuses today but if this country is to remain a leader of the world, it’s up to each one of us to be the best we can be. It’s not the role of schools to make us smart – they are to provide the tools to help us learn.

The taxpayers – us – pay for the buildings, and we pay to see that they are maintained, cleaned, heated and staffed.  We hate to see our money wasted.

Parents (and in ever-increasing numbers grandparents) are responsible for the education of their children and grandchildren. It is their job to make sure their children have a good breakfast and a good nights sleep to make sure they are ready to learn.

It is also their job to make sure homework is done even if that means turning off the TV, removing the cell phone and sitting at the kitchen table with them as they carry on about “not being able to do this!”

Students have to put their shoulder to the wheel and make their best efforts to succeed.  Learning is not easy for a lot of us…but students have one job to do and that is to become all they are capable of being.

I was not a good math student, so my Dad insisted I do an extra hour of math everyday – Saturday, Sunday, Thanksgiving and summer vacation were not exempt. I’d do the work and then one of my parents would go over it with me.

If the teacher wasn’t able to get it through my thick head, my mom or dad would find some way to get it through…an illustration, a story or even a trip to the store. I must admit I didn’t like doing math everyday. After a while it wasn’t so bad — that’s just the way it was.

We are facing new challenges in the 21st century. It’s once again time for all of us to pull together and make education a priority for the good of our nation. Remember the purpose of education is to help everyone succeed to the best of their ability.

An educated society is a more productive society, a happier society. Educated people tend to live longer and be healthier,

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Oct. 7 from noon until 5 p.m., there will be a benefit for the Wounded Warriors Project at the American Legion. Included will be a spaghetti dinner and entertainment and a motorcycle ride to several other American Legion Posts in the afternoon for those so inclined.

The Senior Meals Program will be closed on Monday in honor of Columbus Day. Wednesday, the center will also be closed for their noon meal but will be meeting at 5 p.m.at the Fire Department for the Candlelight Dinner. Remember to wear your best Hawaiian duds!

The Elderberries will meet on Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. for a covered dish dinner. Everyone is asked to bring some items for a White Elephant Auction. Think re-gifting! Remember Oct. 23 will be a dinner with the foreign exchange students at the Methodist Church.

TOPS will meet at Our Lady of the Rosary on Wednesday at 5:45PM.

The Hannibal Methodist Church hosts a free chili and soup lunch on Thursdays at 11:30 a.m.  Good food and good people to talk with.  Take-outs available.

The Friends of the Hannibal Free Library will be holding a Book and Bake Sale Saturday, October 13 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to   3 p.m. It will take place in the Hannibal Community Center, next to the Library.

The Hannibal Senior Band will be having a can and bottle drive Saturday, Oct. 13 from 9 a.m. to noon with support from N&N Redemption Center.

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