PAUL MULLANEY: Don't fly under the radar; it's time to care

2012-02-26T00:00:00Z 2012-02-26T09:45:12Z PAUL MULLANEY: Don't fly under the radar; it's time to careBY PAUL MULLANEY Managing Editor
February 26, 2012 12:00 am  • 

If you follow the news of Northwest Indiana by reading The Times, or one of our mobile outlets, you've followed the mix of good and bad.

You've read stories about people who care and, perhaps unfortunately, about those who don't.

One story of great caring flew largely under the radar in autumn 2011, when Hammond's Morton High School celebrated its football homecoming.

In the words of Marie Herring (rhymes with caring), a longtime respected educator and coach at Morton, it was "one of the most heartwarming stories that happened but didn't make the newspaper."

Today it does.

Morton's students, Herring said, "demonstrated how big their hearts were" by voting a girl with special needs as the school's 2011 homecoming queen.

Wrote Herring in an email: "In a world where we too often hear, 'life isn't always fair,' the students at Morton made sure this special young lady not only got a chance to be on the homecoming court, but went beyond my wildest dreams and elected her queen. I cannot commend the Morton staff and students enough on how open-minded and accepting they are to students with disabilities, and I will never be able to put into words the feelings I felt when they made this precious little girl's dream come true that night.

"When she was being crowned, I don't think there was a dry eye among the parents there. Being a homecoming queen is such a prestigious honor for girls, and often it deals with vanity. But the kids put that all aside this time."

It was, and still is, a display of great caring by Morton's students.

Unfortunately, not all students are the beneficiaries of that type of caring. And this is where adults come in.

Last month in Gary, a public information session was held to educate the public, the community, on plans to reform what most of know as The 'Velt -- Roosevelt High School, more recently called Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy.

Roosevelt's recent plight has been well documented. For six straight years, the school was placed on probation by Indiana's Department of Education. Six straight years! That's why it became one of seven high schools to be taken over by the state.

Two vice presidents from New York-based EdisonLearning, the company hired by the state to turn The 'Velt around, were on hand to discuss the company's contract with the DOE and how it was going about its in-depth analysis -- the basis for its final report to be submitted in April. The company claims to have distributed fliers to 61 churches to promote that community meeting, plus advertising with local media. It appeared, at least to us, to be an important community meeting, so we assigned our education reporter to capture what happened.

One Gary resident showed up.


Do I dare suggest, or is it obvious, that the lack of care that night is precisely what got Roosevelt -- despite its proud and illustrious history -- into this takeover mode to start with?

In all fairness, a subsequent meeting on Roosevelt's future a few weeks later drew dozens more residents than the first one. So there is hope.

And the hope here is that the progress being seen in many corners of Northwest Indiana, Gary included, continues at a steadily increasing rate. Much of the energy is emanating from the One Region, One Vision initiative. We are seeing significant momentum and progress as stakeholders from across the region sit down, talk to one another and work toward the common good to advance our corner of the state in commerce, education and good government.

But let's not take the high road only in the most public of arenas. Let's lend a helping hand to our neighbor, to a family in need or wherever you are.

Let's do what's right. Let's care.

For ourselves and for the generations that follow us.

For NWI. Now!

Paul Mullaney is managing editor of The Times. He can be reached at or (219) 933-3239.

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