When Guy Varnell admitted to killing Narda "Addee" Pranke in February, the events propelled the age-old contrast between old timers and newcomers in a community to the forefront of a small town's consciousness.
We can find fault, point fingers and name scapegoats all we want: Varnell for the murder, Pranke for not filling out the proper paperwork when she reported to the police that she felt threatened or the Oregon County Sheriff's Department for allegedly ignoring Pranke's pleas. But the ultimate sin is that Pranke had to die to actually force people to realize that the mentality and divisions within a small, rural community such as Alton might indeed be fractured and desperately need mending.
Bias toward newcomers in communities is nothing new and is buried in the psychology of both the individual and the group. Oldtimers want to preserve the integrity and traditions of their community while newcomers attempt to assimilate into a new environment, one in which they may be unfamiliar with the norms and values.
The two mentalities are inevitably bound to clash until a middle ground and mutual understanding can be reached, but that leaves no excuse for hostility or a complete shunning. Nor does it require every neighbor to drop off a warm apple pie when someone moves to a new place, but something somewhere has to give.
That something is a mutual respect of differences among people. Old-timers need to realize newcomers can contribute to their communities. They can bring fresh ideas to local government and issues, new mentalities and perspectives in the workplace and energy that can exact positive changes not just on a personal level but on the community as whole.
Newcomers have to respect the traditions and people within a community, gradually easing their way into a new group that may be hesitant at first to welcome them. Yes, it takes time for people to become acclimated with each other and their differences, but it is possible. When that balance is reached, members of a community, both old and new, can coexist without having to experience another tragedy such as the one Alton is currently struggling with.
Village Pride of Cherokee Village would like to thank all the volunteers who came out on April 28th to help with the Spring Roadside Pick-up. Through the efforts of more than 50 citizens, over 300 miles of Cherokee Village was picked up, resulting in a cleaner, more beautiful city. Village Pride appreciates the effort and hard work of everyone that came out to help. Special thanks to Kiwanis, House of Luke Ministries, Keep Arkansas Beautiful and our sponsor King-Rhodes Realty.
Chairman Roadside Clean-up
Cherokee Village, Ark.
It's hard to believe that, four years ago, I was an awkward, pubescent freshman--my worries only included Algebra homework, and where I would sit at lunch that day. Time seemed to go in an agonizing slow motion, and all I could ever think about was getting out and getting on with life. When my mom warned me that time flies in high school, I certainly wasn't prepared for her to be right, and I certainly wasn't prepared to wish that wasn't the case.
My classmates and I watched each other grow up. We crammed ourselves by the dozens into one cafeteria table as scared seventh graders, laughed at cracked voices and awkward, gangly limbs as we struggled through puberty, and managed to band together in times of duress and prom decorating. Somehow sixty-some teenagers, with almost nothing in common, became a unit.
Now, after years of being forced together under one roof, we're getting ready to strike out on our own, create names and identities for ourselves, and it leaves us with a bit of a bittersweet feeling. It's strange, sitting next to a handsome young man in our final days of class when it seems like only last week his voice resembled a girl's and he couldn't yet shave--or to see that beautiful young woman and remember changing into P.E. clothes and swapping deodorant and boy troubles with her.
It's kind of scary, to be honest. As we walk the halls for the last time, we can almost see the transition from childhood into the people we are today. We pass by the lockers where we gossiped and bickered, say hello to the teachers who influenced us in ways we can't even begin to fathom. We remember how we loved to hate those white walls and cold classrooms. Somehow, we grew attached to it all. Yet now have to learn to let it all go. For some it will be easy. For others, not so much.
So, here we are. Clutching our big black robes, sharing senior pictures and remember-whens, waiting with baited breath and tensed bodies. We are ready to take on our final act as a unit, one last time, as we band together as Salem High School Senior Class of 2012, and take that final step into the Great Unknown.
But I have a feeling, that even though in the coming years we'll be spread far and wide, even though some of us may never return to that small town where we grew up, we'll always have the mark of the Greyhound on our hearts. No matter how the world changes or where we end up, we'll always be Class of 2012.
I am writing to express how pleased I am with the Highland School District's intent to expand the vocational curricula by adding a new "Completer" achievement for the students to earn at the high school level. I think there is a definite need for more vocational career choices for students, especially in law, public safety, corrections, and security fields.
In today's world, where violence and anger can be everywhere -- including in our school -- I feel these types of classes will definitely benefit our students. By taking the three classes offered through the Arkansas Department of Career Education -- Introduction to Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement I and II -- this will definitely help the students pursue further educational and employment opportunities that they might not consider without the opportunity to learn about them through these vocational classes.
Thank you for continuing to provide more opportunities for our youth.