EDITORIAL: Thumbs-up for Memorial Day events, mock interview program, sportsmanship awards

York Dispatch
Aaron Lax, of York, hoists a 50 pound log onto his shoulder  as he prepares to run in the 7th annual York Gold Star 5K, Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2019.   The log carries names of fallen service members. Lax, who served with the 1st Infantry and 101st Airborne on two deployments to Afghanistan, was running the 5K in honor of his friend Demetrius Frison, who was killed in action May 10, 2011.
John A. Pavoncello photo
  • On Memorial Day, local folks honored those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
  • Area officials honored students from New Oxford and York High for sportsmanship.
  • A York City mock interview program prepped students for the real world.

Thumbs-up: Memorial Day is supposed to be much more than just a day off from work and a reason to have family picnic.

It’s supposed to be a day when we remember and honor the military personnel who perished while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Fortunately, at sites all across York County on Monday, there were plenty of folks who did their best to recognize the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our nation free.

One man, York’s Aaron Lax, hoisted a 50-pound log onto his shoulder while preparing to run in the annual York Gold Star 5K. The log carried the names of fallen service members. Lax, who served with the 1st Infantry and 101st Airborne on two deployments to Afghanistan, was running the 5K in honor of his friend, Demetrius Frison, who was killed in action May 10, 2011.

Others found different, more traditional, ways to honor our greatest heroes.

No matter the method, the folks who attended the various events were doing their best to make sure that our honored dead will never be forgotten.

That is the true reason for the holiday. Their service and their sacrifice must always be remembered and recognized.

Thumbs-up: Getting students prepared for the real world is one of the most important jobs that our educators perform.

That’s why the folks from the York City School District deserve plaudits for a recent program at Hannah Penn K-8, where professionals and business leaders staged mock interviews with students.

Mock interviews test York City students for real world

About 70 eighth graders participated in the program — an effort by English language arts teacher Janel Sager — sharing portfolios including quotes, Instagram photos, teacher recommendations and short personal essays.

Participants were judged based on portfolio, interview questions and other factors such as greeting and professional dress. Sager told interviewers to be gentle but tough, because “some of them — they need to hear it — the real thing,” she said.

Sager said students valued the feedback. The process also gave students a chance to flip the script and ask their interviewers about their greatest achievements. It gave the students an opportunity to learn about the traits that can make people successful after school.

The mock interviews should give them a taste of what they will face in the real world and will help them develop the skills necessary to succeed in their work careers.

It's a program that should most definitely continue.

Thumbs-up: High school sports officials take a lot of abuse from fans, coaches and players — most of it undeserved.

Despite the jabs and jeers, they continue to do their necessary but thankless jobs, week in and week out.

Most do it because they love the games and they love the kids. The monetary rewards are certainly minimal.

In the York area, however, the high school basketball officials have taken their support of scholastic athletics to an even higher level.

Nearly two decades ago, local officials created memorial team sportsmanship awards and a scholarship fund to honor the memory of Gretchen Wolf Swartz, who was a York-area basketball official from 1981 to 1995. She died from leukemia in 1997.

Since then, the Gretchen Wolf Swartz Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $500,000 in scholarships.

Six New Oxford boys' basketball players earn $78,000 in Gretchen Wolf Swartz scholarships

This year alone, a whopping $116,000 in scholarships were awarded to six students from the New Oxford boys’ basketball program ($78,000) and two students from the York High girls’ basketball program ($38,000). Students from those programs were honored because of the sportsmanship displayed by those programs throughout the 2018-2019 season. The local officials determined the winners.

York High's Jae Fitch and Adrionna Harris get $38,000 in scholarships from Swartz Fund

The area officials, the honored teams and the individual scholarship winners are all deserving of a big thumbs-up.