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Tuesday, November 29, 2022
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Ryan Alumni Gather Over Labor Day Weekend

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he Ryan High School Alumni Association held its bi-annual alumni banquet over the recent Labor Day weekend.

The highlight of the weekend was the banquet held in the high school cafeteria/auditorium where the majority of the people in attendance walked across the stage to graduate from Ryan High School.

Nearly 100 alumni, family and friends gathered for the banquet that was highlighted by a catered meal from Branding Iron of Wichita Falls, TX.

Rob Givens, a 1975 graduate of RHS, was the featured speaker for the afternoon.

GUEST SPEAKER – Bob Givens spoke to the Ryan High School Alumni banquet held last Saturday. (Photo by Trey Smart)

Givens recounted the story of how Brown Brothers Dry Goods in Ryan got its name and a little history behind it.

The last operator of the store was Givens’ dad, Bob Givens, who was known to most everyone in Ryan as a businessman and supporter of all Ryan High School activities.

 Bob Givens, for whom the athletic complex is named at Ryan, was the public address announcer at the high school football games for 50 years.

After the elder Givens graduated from high school at Ryan, he joined the army and his son told the story of his dad being missing in action at one time, but returned home and never left Ryan again.

The presentation and introduction of classes was done by Tommy Johnson.

Following the introduction of the classes, the oldest graduate, youngest graduate and the graduate who traveled the furtherest were recognized and awarded a copy of the book, “The Pride of RHS: A Sports History of Ryan High School.”

Earning the oldest graduate present was Nell Largent. The youngest graduate was Alana Miranda. The person traveling the furtherest was Gary Reynolds, who came from Jackson, Tennessee.

The reading of RHS graduates who have died since the last banquet was done by Angela Sullivan, T. Johnson, Furman Clark and Don Johnson.

Since the banquet was interrupted by the pandemic, it had been three years since the association had gathered for the banquet held every two years. A list of 98 names was read to the crowd.

D. Johnson, president of the alumni association, read the names of the scholarship recipients for the past three years. The alumni association awards two scholarships to the top two seniors of the Ryan graduating classes each year.

MASTER OF CEREMONIES – Don Johnson, Ryan High School Alumni  Association President, presided over the last Saturday’s gathering held at the Ryan School.  (Photo by Trey Smart)

In the program, it was noted that 35 scholarships have been given through the years in the amount of $46,350.

All of the current officers were re-elected to serve again and they will be tasked along with other volunteers to put together the next banquet which will be Labor Day weekend of 2024.

Plans are being made to try and encourage increased attendance at the banquet – especially among the local people. Many RHS graduates traveled across the state and beyond and this event would be enhanced by the participation of local people.

The class of 1972 sponsored an event on Saturday night at the American Legion as they were celebrating their 50th year since graduating at Ryan.

The class of 1962, celebrating their 60th year since graduating, also had a good representation present at the banquet.

Cole Mourns Loss of Queen Elizabeth II

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Moore, OK – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after learning about the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, who reigned for more than 70 years. 

“Queen Elizabeth II lived an extraordinary life and displayed an unwavering sense of duty to her country. As the longest reigning monarch in modern history, she leaves behind an unparalleled legacy that extends numerous generations and 15 prime ministers. Her loss will be deeply felt not only by her loyal subjects but by countless admirers around the world. My prayers are with the Royal Family as they grieve the loss of a truly legendary matriarch and with our British friends as they mourn the loss of their much beloved Queen.”

Continuing One Cent Sales Tax Will Benefit Many Departments

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On August 23, Jefferson County voters have an opportunity to vote on continuing a one cent sales tax that is currently providing funding for the Jefferson County Hospital.  Hospital officials project their obligation will be paid off this year.  Jefferson County Commissioners want to keep the one cent tax and use it to place the county in a better financial position.  According to Jeffco officials continuing the tax will provide vital funding to meet mandated obligations and position the county to spend money on other important areas like rural fire, better roads and courthouse repairs as well as repairs at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. 

County officials are presenting a series of Town Meetings to answer questions and talk about how the county works and how funding and budgeting works for counties across Oklahoma.  “Our initial One Cent Tax was passed by voters in 1992.  It was slated for general county operations, and for the support of county civil defense, OSU extension, county law enforcement, county-wide rural fire protection and fair board maintenance and operations,” according to Bryce Bohot, District One Commissioner. “If you consider it’s now 30 years later and how the cost of everything has risen, that the limited dollars we have to work with can only be increased by sales tax, then it’s vital that this proposition passes. Having these dollars available means that we can actually accomplish all the items mentioned in the original proposal,” Bohot continued.  “We still have the same needs, and these dollars will allow us to budget for each of the areas and to have dollars available for matching grants that will make the dollars go even farther.”

The first two town meetings were held Monday evening in Addington and Hastings.  The full meetings are posted to Facebook under the Friends of Jefferson County Group.  “We encourage everyone to attend one of the meetings,” Bohot stated.  “However, having the full meetings with all the questions and answers available provides a great way for people to watch from home.  I’m also available to answer any questions you may have.”

At both meetings the same questions were asked.  Attendees wanted an assurance that this was not an additional tax or a new tax; that it would not raise their property taxes and that the county would not come back in a couple of years and ask for an additional increase. Attendees also wanted to make sure there would be dollars available to support our rural fire departments and that those monies would be distributed fairly. 

 “Oklahoma law allows rural counties to have up to a 2 cent sales tax for county operations,” Bryce Bohot said at both the Hastings and Addington Town Meetings.  “We are not allowed to go back to the voters for more sales tax.”

“Having the two cents of sales tax will actually allow us to go back to the original list of items on the 1992 Proposition and begin working with the various groups to get their items budgeted,” Bohot stated. “For the past several years, we have never gotten past the basic mandated items and have not been able to fully fund those items. This additional tax projected to be approximately $35,000 to $40,000 per month will allow us to not only fund the items mentioned, but also to begin saving dollars to use as matching funds to make the county funds go farther.”  “Currently we spend all our time trying to cover whatever urgent need we have at the moment. These dollars will allow us to actually plan for a stronger future for all of us.”

“Rural Fire Department funding was part of the original sales tax proposition and is vitally important to our county,” Bohot stated.  “I’m part of the Hastings Volunteer Fire Department and I fully understand how important all the volunteer departments are to the county. I’m pleased that all the departments are coming together once a month to meet and share information.  I’ve talked with several of the volunteers and talked about the budgeting process and how it would be great for them to come to the budget planning session and bring their projected needs for the coming year. We would visit with them about providing funding for their priorities and would make that part of the budget.”

Denise Bacon, Addington resident, made an excellent point when she asked the group if this helped them understand the importance of shopping local because your sales tax stays right her at home and supports the towns and Jefferson County. 

“I hope voters understand that this not asking for a tax increase, but to keep the one cent that is already in place,” County Commissioner, Ty Phillips explained. “Voters have supported the one cent tax for the hospital for the past 23 years and the hospital is retiring their debt and no longer needs the funds.  Keeping the one cent that is already in place for the county will go a long way toward allowing us to get Jefferson County up to mandated standards and also so we can have funds to use for matching grants that can help all our organizations including emergency services and rural fire.”

There are three more town meetings that all residents are invited to attend.  Monday, August 15 at 6 p.m. at the Community Center; Monday, August 15, at 7:30 at the Claypool Community Center and on Tuesday, August 16, at the Waurika Presbyterian Church.

Citizens Urged to Vote Yes on August 23

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Jefferson County residents will go to the polls on Tuesday, August 23 for a special run-off election that includes voting on maintaining a one cent sales tax that was originally earmarked for the Jefferson County Hospital.  The Jefferson County Hospital Authority no longer needs those funds, but our county officials want to put those dollars to work for some much needed projects.

“Keeping the one cent sales tax active will allow us to keep our county government local,” stated Bryce Bohot, Jefferson County Commissioner for District One. “It’s essentially the same idea as keeping our hospital local and keeping those important services available here, we need to ensure that we keep our county services here, too.”

“It’s important to note that voting yes on the sales tax, does not increase your property taxes.  It only impacts sales tax and it is not an increase from what you are currently paying,” Bohot continued. 

In order to keep services local, the one cent sales tax would be used for many improvements, including, but not limited to the following areas: 

• To ensure that necessary repairs can be made to our County Courthouse and Jefferson County Fairgrounds buildings. 

• To comply with Oklahoma state statutes on paying all elected officials & first deputies out of the county general fund.

• Bring our County Jail up to state mandated codes.  

• Increasing the dollars available for improving our county roads.

• Operating at a level where there is matching funding available for grants to support future projects without additional indebtedness.

County officials have scheduled a series of Town Meetings for area residents to get their questions answered about the importance of keeping the one cent tax for Jefferson County.  The meeting days and times are:  Addington, Monday, August 8, 6 p.m., Addington Community Center; Hastings, Monday, August 8, 7:30 p.m. Hastings Senior Citizens Center; Terral/Grady, Tuesday, August 9, 6 p.m., Terral Community Center; Ryan/Sugden, Friday, August 12, 6 p.m. Ryan Senior Citizens Center; Ringling, Monday, August 15, 6 p.m. Ringling Community Center; Claypool, Monday, August 15, 7:30 p.m. Claypool Community Center; and Waurika/Sugden, Tuesday, August 16, 6 p.m. Waurika Presbyterian Church, 124 W. Broadway, Waurika. 

D-K Metal Form Co. Inc Celebrates 50 Years in Business

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 D-K Metal is a family business. It’s been family owned and operated since day one. The name itself stands for Don, Dora Donnie and Keith (Lisa wasn’t born yet). Thus  the D-K Metal Form Company was born. It all began in 1972 at the same location on which it stands today. Before that the building had been a mechanic shop and a car dealership. 

 The building was built by Mr. Simmons (Bill and June Simmons). Later Hubert Welch bought it and turned it into a mechanic shop. One of the mechanics  who worked there was Don Watkins. 

Don and Donnie Watkins cut a sheet of metal on a machine inside D-K Metal. At this time, they employed 14 workers. (News-Democrat photo)

Don Watkins and his business partner, owner of Wichita Metal Products of Wichita Falls, had the original idea for the business. Don had been a salesman for a steel supplier known as AMSCO. One of his customer’s was Wichita Metal Products. The owner needed a better supplier. Together they came up the idea of starting their own metal shop. Fifty years later they are still supplying Wichita Metal Products with supplies. 

Originally, the Watkins family had to lease the property in order to begin. When they first took over the property they spent a month remodeling the facility in order to convert it for the purpose it fulfills today. Larger doors had to be installed, new wiring had to be run and the huge brake presses and sheers had to be put in place. Once the building was ready, it took about a week for the first load of steel to arrive. 

Donnie Watkins remembers being 13 years old when the remodeling process began. At the age of 14 he would ride his motorcycle to work.

Keith Watkins began working in the family business when he was 12, sweeping the floors. Later he was promoted to stacking (and sweeping the floors). 

Donnie and Keith have been partners since their father, Don, passed away in 1990 (Their mother Dora passed in 2021). At that time, Keith dropped out of college and came back to help operate the family business. Some have commented, “I don’t see how brothers can work together.” What they don’t realize is that not only are they brothers, they are also best friends. 

Donnie is married to the County Assessor, Sandra (daughter of Fred and Betty Richardson  former co-owners of Gerken-Richardson Auto in Waurika. Gary and Becky Gerken were the other owners. Becky is Sandra’s sister). Keith is married to Patricia (Martin), she and her father were the previous owners of the bent can store that was located in downtown Waurika. 

The Watkins are descendants of Merle and Jewel Watkins and Lester and Thelma Neal. Merle worked for the WPA, was a farmer and worked for the state. The Neals moved here from Sulphur. Lester had worked for a ranch there that moved their operations here and settled near Claypool. 

Over the years they have built parts for new military bases and new towns in Saudi Arabia. They built parts used in facilities constructed for the  Summer Olympics of 1996 held in Atlanta Georgia. At one time they even built front bumpers for pickup trucks. They also supplied parts for up to 17 manufactured home companies. 

They also supplied specialty parts for the Denver Airport. This was a huge job that literally took a toll on Donnie’s health. He has now been retired for four years. However, he still comes by the shop everyday at noon. If he didn’t he says he would go crazy. 

Over the years they have been loyal to their customers and their customers have been loyal to them. 

At the height of their productivity, D-K would run two shifts per day. Donnie remembers those days because when he would arrive at work he would have to stack the scrap metal left over from the night crew before tackling his duties for the day crew. During that time they employed around 17 people at one time. One of those working at that time was Terry Pilgreen. 

Terry Pilgreen, an employee of D-K Metal for nine years. He started working for the business in 1972 when it first opened (Waurika News-Democrat photo)

D-K Metal is a parts builder says Keith. He and Donnie said they take flat metal and shape it and mold it into whatever the customer needs. 

Their days are long hot and exhausting. It can also be tedious. Some days a worker will stand in the same position for several hours in repetitive motion contraction the same part over and over again. 

 It takes a steady hand and complete concentration, especially when you are constructing 10,000 identical pieces. 

Things have certainly changed over the years. Donnie says he can remember when metal was only 13 cents per pound. It’s over $1 per pound now. They’ve experienced lean times and prosperous times. Things got really tough after 2008. There were times when they only fired up the machines two times per month. Things were tough during the COVID crises as well. 

The Watkins brothers are proud to say their employees have always been like a family. Many of their employees stayed with them over 20 years. Some worked for the Watkins more than 30 years. Donnie says he misses those employees who were his lifelong friends. “If you work with someone for 30 years, 8 and 9 hours per day, you are going to know everything about their kids and things going on in their life.  You spend more time with them than you do with your own family,” they said. Just to mention a few, the Gozales brothers, Joe Fannon and Robert Gutierrez, Sr. 

 picture of D-K Metal employees found in the 1976 Waurika HS yearbook. 

Along with employees and former employees, the Watkins have developed close ties with the community. Johnson, Auto and Tractor Supply along with Darrell and Carolyn Beaver and Beaver Lumber Company. Gratefulness is the word that best describes their feelings. The feelings the Watkins feel for their fellow business owners and the feelings the fellow business owners have for them. Johnson Auto extends their congratulations for 50 years of business and have expressed that appreciation with an Ad in this week’s paper. Darrell and Carolyn Beaver as well as their ex employees of Beaver Lumber Company wishes to express their congratulations as well. Darrell said there were times when they would exchange fork lifts or help each other in various ways. 

l-r) Keith and Donnie Watkins, owners of D-K Metal Form Co. 
They have been a part of the family business since 1972. 
The business was started by their father Don that year. 
Keith and Donnie are not just brothers, they are best friends! (Photo by Curtis L. Plant)

“All in all it’s been good,” the Watkins say. The business has been their life. However, they wouldn’t trade their lives and experiences for the world. “Maybe for a little extra money,” they joke. But not for the world. 

Waurika’s Aaron Torrez Wins State in Power Lifting

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Aaron Torrez recently achieved something that no junior high student in recent history has done.

Torrez won the State Championship in power lifting. 

He competed in squats, bench and deadlifting this past week in El Reno. 

Torrez is just in the seventh grade and this is his second year to compete on the weight lifting team. 

Last year he competed at the state level and finished in 5th place. 

He now would like to win the state title every year until he graduates. 

Torrez has been a Waurika Eagle since Kindergarten.

In his spare time he loves to fish. 

Adam Brinson Reflects on His time on the City Commission

 Adam Brinson took office in April of 2019. Monday was his last official meeting as a commissioner. 

When he started one of his goals was to keep from raising water rates. During the last three years the commission has only raised water rates one time and that was to keep up with the rate of inflation. 

Since 2019 the citizens of Waurika passed a bond issue which allowed the Fire Department to purchase much needed  safety equipment along with a ladder truck which  will allow fire fighters to effectively access the roof tops of burning houses. Thankfully, their hasn’t been any house fires since the purchase of the truck.  If a house fire does occur the department has the equipment they need to put it out quickly and safely. 

Brinson says commissioners have worked hard to set aside enough money to survive emergencies.  The accepted accounting goal is to have enough unrestricted cash to survive three years without any positive revenue. The city is well on its way to meet that goal. In the past there were times when the city had a hard time keeping its head above water.

He said some have asked him about the purchase of new police and city vehicles.  He said the units purchased met state requirements and are safe. He also says the previous vehicles were costing more in repairs than they were worth, thus not being cost effective. For example, police vehicles are more expensive because of the required equipment which does not come standard.  

The hiring of Kyote Dunn has been good for Waurika. Brinson says the commissioners interviewed many qualified candidates and thoughtfully considered each one before selecting Dunn. He says he has been impressed with Dunn’s diligence and professionalism. 

Also, he says it has been encouraging to see how people have come together to improve Waurika.

A group of citizens wanted to use the Presbyterian church more often including the ministerial alliance. The problem was the lack of air conditioning. Thankfully an anonymous donations contributed to install the new units making it usable year around. Citizens can expect to see more functions take place in the beautiful Waurika landmark. 

New parks and landscaping has been incredible. Craig Williams and his crew along with countless volunteers have done a tremendous job making Waurika look incredible. There are still more improvements to come as far as parks and recreation are concerned. 

Waurika does not have a city council it has a city commission. Commissioners are not allowed to direct day to day operations. They don’t act individually, they act as one body. Brinson said he has learned much about city government while on the commission.  The members along with citizens must all work together. He says citizens are encouraged to participate in public hearings and weekly meetings. If a citizen wants they can asked to be put on the agenda for the regular meeting or they can speak up during “citizen input” during any meeting. Those who attend meetings faithfully understand why and how decisions are made for the good of the community. No decisions are made without careful consideration.

Brinson is only leaving because of time restraints. He is now the pastor of two churches, here and in Ryan. 

Brinson says it has been an honor to serve with the other commissioners. They have a great working relationship and each one is dedicated to doing what is right for Waurika. 

Kristina Torres and Jerry Wallace Face off for City Commission

Kristina Torres

Kristina Torres

 Kristina Torres is a Waurika Native who has lived here all her life and has a vested interest in the success of Waurika. She feels the city is going in a good direction and doesn’t want it to lose any momentum. She says Waurika is a beautiful town. “We have a great community that has always been supportive of one another.

Torres graduated from Waurika in 2007 as class valedictorian. 

She began her college education at the University of Oklahoma and later transferred to the University of Central Oklahoman located in Edmond. 

She began working for the Waurika Ambulance Service in 2016. Torres is a paramedic, a vocation inspired by her mom. 

Torres is very active within the community. Currently she is helping coach Girls on the Run. Recently she spoke at the Wish Task Force Career Fair held for Waurika students. As part of the task force she is very active in helping adults achieve career success.

Her goal is to do what it takes to help Waurika grow and prosper. She wants to see more activities for children, young people and senior adults. She says she is eager hear citizen’s concerns, and issues. 

Being a first responder, Torres wants to see the Fire Department and emergency services have all the resources they need to keep local citizens safe. 

She also wants to improve the cities infrastructure along with the continued efforts to improve Waurika’s parks. 

Jerry Wallace

Jerry Wallace

Jerry Wallace started life in Love county and moved to Addington when he was in the seventh grade. Wallace says he was raised by the “best mother in the world”. She raised eleven kids in her family. All six boys ended up with Master’s Degrees. Wallace graduated high school from Addington and went on the earn a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State University out of Hunstville, Texas. Before that he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Sociology from Central State University. 

“I believe I’m qualified to deal with people and listen to people. That’s what I want to do, listen to the people of this town. I’ve dedicated lots of work to the city. I’ve cleaned up the property of many of the houses they have torn down. I’ve mowed the ditches along the streets for them. I love to work and I love to help people.” 

Over the past 18 years he has been a part of the Baptist Disaster Team. They go all over the country to assist with cleaning up and helping those who have experienced a catastrophe (flood, tornado, hurricane, etc). Last year he was deployed 12 times and this year he has already been deployed twice. It’s purely a labor of love. It’s completely voluntary. He says his reward is simply helping people. 

He retired in 1980 from the Drug Enforcement Administration. He had served 12 years overseas in various countries including Iran. 

He was working in Iran when the embassy was overtaken and the hostage crisis began.  During his years of service he traveled to 45 countries. “God has really blessed me,” he says. 

Wallace says he was Mayor of Waurika for six years during the 1980s. Since then he has kept up with the goings on of Waurika. 

He currently feels Waurika is spending too much money for a small town. As an example, he states he attended a city commissioner meeting where they were wanting to buy a $54,000.00 police car. When he asked if he could address the issue he says they would only allow him to speak for three minutes (Note: All citizens allowed to address the commissioners during citizen input are only given three minutes to speak.) Wallace, said, “I think that is horrendous when they do that. I feel like the council we have today thinks this city is their’s and the money they have is their’s. I see this as the people’s money. They keep taxing us. Every six months they raise the water rates.” 

Referring back to the purchase of the police car he said he attempted to keep them from doing that because they could have purchased one $25,000.00 cheeper. He said they laughed at him. 

He also cited the purchase of the new central air unit for the Presbyterian Church, which he says is only used one time per year yet they spent $12.000.00 on the unit. “I thought that was ridiculous,” he said. 

Later, Wallace said the city “transferred a million dollars from a checking account to a CD and then raised the utility rates 2.5%. Wallace goes on to say that “the average income for the whole town is $36.000.00 per family.” He says the people in town can’t afford to pay the utility rates we have. Wallace says Waurika’s utility rates are the highest in the state according to his research. He says, “Comanche’s minimum utility bill is $36.00. Waurika’s is around $100.00.” Wallace said in Ryan the citizens get water and electric for around $100 per month. 

“We’ve got to improve. We’ve got to have people in there who care about this town. They are the ones we serve. I just feel like if I don’t stand up for what I believe I won’t have a right to complain.” 

“That’s why I am running for city council. I know I can’t do it by myself but maybe I can convince two other ones to go along with me. I just want to leave the town better than I found it.”

“The things that really get me is a year ago they bought five new pickups for the street, water and utility department. Our city limits only go a quarter mile south and a half mile east and a half mile west and people live two miles out on highway five. They sold pickups that were only 15 years old that people are still driving today hauling wood to Wichita Falls. We don’t have to have the best of everything here. It’s all about taxing the people of this town. I can’t see how anyone can pay a $130 -$140 utility bill to the city while living in the housing. That doesn’t include their electricity.”

“The City council thinks this town belongs to them and I can’t stand it. It’s not their town. We pay for everything they do.”

Wallace went on to discuss the ladder truck used by the Waurika Fire Department, “Having a ladder truck on the fire department for $200,000 that the people are having to pay for when we’ve used it two times in the last two years we’ve had it. One was to get a cat out of the tree and the other was in a parade. Do we need it? I don’t think the people need it. The only people who pay for it are property owners. It was a bond and the city council approved it. They can stop expenditures like that if they would just stop and think about the people. I feel for the poor people and feel for the people having financial trouble. I’m going to try to do something about it. I don’t know if one person can start it and get it going but we did in the 1980s. I’m still in good enough health to get in there and fight a good battle. I’ll be working for the people not for city council. I will not go along with anything that cost the people more.

Applications deadline March 30 for graduation honor cords

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All Chickasaw citizens who are seniors in high school are eligible to apply for honor cords to display while graduating.

Braided in yellow, purple and blue rope, the honor cords feature a medallion displaying the Great Seal of the Chickasaw Nation. The application deadline for these honor cords is March 30.

Chickasaw seniors may also apply for a one-time reimbursement of graduation expenses.

Approved high school senior expenses include graduation announcements, caps and gowns, class rings, letterman jackets, and senior pictures. Up to $150 will be reimbursed for costs associated with these purchases.
For more information, contact Chickasaw Nation Youth Services Division by phone at (580) 310-6620, email at YouthSupportReimbursement@Chickasaw.net or visit 

Chickasaw.net/Services/Children-Youth/Youth-Support-Reimbursement-Program.

Bystanders and Upstanders at the Seat of Scorn

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Once upon a time, a powerful ruler publicly humiliated a simple woman.  He invited her as a guest of honor to an annual celebration, but instead of honoring her, the ruler heaped ire and abuse upon her, attacking her character, honor, and integrity. She helplessly endured it in silence while her friends and colleagues silently watched. No one spoke up or even stood beside her. Her seat of honor at a celebration was instead a seat of scorn.

Those same friends and colleagues privately came to her afterwards and affirmed their love and support for her.  The ruler also visited the woman and apologized very sincerely for his hurtful and unfair behavior and invited her to another celebration. She was not attacked this time, but the previous injustice was ignored, and she left more wounded than ever, because private praise rarely heals public wounds, and neither do secret apologies. Such a broken heart simply festers.

I share this little parable because I am often asked how people can affirm support for their local educators, and I believe it is how we choose to respond when someone sits defenseless in the seat of scorn. Like the simple woman in our parable, local educators often sit alone and humiliated in the public eye, but this is not just happening to school staff. Police officers and healthcare workers have been targeted mercilessly, and likewise, volunteer elected officials like school board members and city council members. Still yet, the seat of scorn is not limited to these leaders or professions. 

Ask the men and women at the drive-thru windows and convenience store counters how often they are cussed or insulted lately.  Ask your bus drivers, your cooks, your custodians, or your school secretaries how people often treat them.  Ask the tellers at the bank, your servers, your pastors.  Ask your friends and family, and ask the person in the mirror, for you probably have felt it, too. Yes, local educators currently feel isolated and humiliated at the seat of scorn, but they are not alone in regard to feeling so alone.

Such treatment is often face-to-face, but nowadays, anyone can be abused publicly by petty tyrants on social media.  Simple folks retreat to social media for a celebration with friends and family, but they quickly find themselves sitting ducks in the virtual seat of scorn. Despite dozens and dozens of “friends” looking on, people rarely stand beside them publicly. An avalanche of support may pour in privately, but private praise and secret apologies never heal public wounds; they just make it worse.

I am often asked what our local educators need, and it is the same thing everyone else needs right now: someone . . . anyone . . . brave enough to stand beside them at the seat of scorn.  Whether online in social media or in line at the store, people should not suffer alone when someone browbeats them for the higher cost of a fountain drink or for simply being a healthcare provider, police officer, or educator. We should never return bad behavior with worse behavior, but we can always walk across the room and stand beside them, so they know they are not alone. I wonder how many times I have personally been guilty of being a bystander.

When schoolkids receive anti-bully training, they learn that being a bystander simply fuels the bad behavior.  As a result, children learn to be upstanders.  Simply standing up with the person often neutralizes the bully, and the person is no longer alone.  Instead of silently watching when someone is humiliated in the seat of scorn, we should be like our children. We should stand beside them, whether online or in person, because private praise and secret apologies afterwards never help.  We all know the hot seat of scorn, so let’s be upstanders rather than bystanders when it happens in our communities. Please pray for restored civility in our communities, the courage to stand with each other, and above all, the safety of our schools this Second Sunday of the Month. 

Tom Deighan is superintendent of Duncan Public Schools. You may email him at  deighantom@gmail.com and read past articles at www.mostlyeducational.com

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