The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 15, 2014

Our View: Sing praises of sixth-grade choir

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Thumbs up to organizers and supporters of new sixth grade choirs at Franklin and Garfield elementaries.

Franklin teacher Jonathan Shevy got the idea to start a Franklin choir coming from Owatonna where kids had opportunities for choir in sixth grade and earlier. Shevy got the support of the Franklin Parent Teacher Organization who provided funds for a piano player and music.

He already has 50 kids participating in the after school choir, and they’ve performed the National Anthem recently at a Minnesota State University basketball game.

Across town in North Mankato, Garfield teacher Kathy Hopf also has started a sixth-grade choir. About 36 students are participating in the program before school on Wednesday and they’ve performed at some West athletic events. Hopf notes students by sixth grade are ready to learn harmonies and other voice techniques.

Most of the choirs in Mankato school start in junior high, but exposing kids to performance music earlier in their education can do nothing but help those later choir programs with kids who have experience and have honed their singing skills.

Mankato’s music programs are impressive. So getting kids started even a little earlier should make those programs even stronger. The community-building value of a choir can’t be underestimated.

GOP shows courage on debt ceiling

Thumbs up to Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for their courageous decisions to move forward on a debt ceiling vote without all the political hijinks that were associated with the last one.

Boehner risked the ire of his Tea Party caucus by simply moving the bill through without lots of politically-motivated amendments. He and his top lieutenants and a couple of dozen other Republicans in the House voted for the measure joining with almost all Democrats to extend the borrowing authority for 13 months.

Many conservative groups were angry at the GOP, but those who voted for the clean extension bill deserve credit for a courageous vote in these politically divided times. They saw no value to the country and their constituents in a high stakes game of possibly shutting down the government again.

In the Senate, McConnell and his allies also provided the votes against GOP hard-liner Ted Cruz to overcome the 60 vote limit on a filibuster to allow the vote to be taken, which was then passed by a mostly party line vote 55-43, with Democrats voting to extend the limit.

It appears Republicans are listening to their constituents who were fed up with the tactics of delaying the debt decision and risking threats to financial markets. They deserve credit for standing up to the threats by Cruz and others.

Editorial Board

Other View

West hockey reaches milestone

Congratulations to the 2013-14 Mankato West Scarlets hockey team for an exemplary 18-0 season in the Big Nine Conference.

The players, head coach Curtis Doell and his staff have put together a perfect conference season, and in the historically competitive Big Nine conference, seasons in which one team sweeps the rest of the conference are extremely rare. During an 18-game conference season, it has never been done before and may not be done again by any school.

Best wishes for continued success in the real season: the playoffs.

Roger Dier

Author of Scarlet Ice

Oshkosh, Wis.