SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

March 31, 2014

Our view: Cheers, jeers for local newsmakers

CHEERS to the Peabody School Committee for requiring Peabody High School seniors to perform a measurable amount of community service before they can graduate. What better way to make sure students get a full view of what adulthood can bring?

“It’s something I strongly believe in for our students ... helping those in a less fortunate position,” said Mayor Ted Bettencourt, who has backed the idea since taking office in 2012. “I don’t want to put onerous conditions on anyone ... Lots of students have to work or have extracurricular activities. I just want our students to understand a little better what’s going on in the world.”

The requirement wouldn’t be onerous, Bettencourt said. Juniors and seniors would likely have to volunteer for a local cause or charity for 8 to 12 hours per school year. Educators note that many students already spend more time than that helping others.

“The kids are usually willing to give up time,” high school Principal Eric Buckley said. “Most of the kids through their four years are involved in some kind of community service or cleanup.”

Some people, however, have no compassion for others. We offer a JEERS to the jerks who stole Patricia Champagne’s motorized wheelchair from her back porch earlier this month.

Champagne was hit by a truck four years ago and needs a partial knee replacement. She relies on the chair to get around, as walking causes her considerable pain. She lives on a second-floor apartment in Salem, meaning the heavy, $5,000 chair needs to stay outside under a tarp. Police think someone may have snatched it for a joyride or to sell as scrap.

At least the story has a happy ending. A 20-year-old man found the chair abandoned on Grove Street, and the next day, his mother called the police to let them know they could pick it up. And after reading about Champagne’s plight in last Wednesday’s Salem News, several local residents stepped forward to offer their help in getting her a replacement.

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