Joseph elementary presents timely patriotic program

Among Joseph elementary students in last week's patriotic music program are, left to right; bottom row, Casey Hayes, Ali Garrett; middle: Trevor McWaters, Alex Welch; top, Austin Wells, Paige Hunting. Submitted photo

While President George W. Bush was announcing the commencement of a war on Iraq last Wednesday evening, grades K-6 at the Joseph elementary school were presenting a patriotic musical program titled "This Is America."

Music instructor Claudia Boswell, who had been planning the program since mid-January, said she was accused of having an in with the U.S. joint chiefs of staff.

Other than Boswell's timely program which involved 92 singers and 19 band students, the beginning of the war has had little effect on local schools.

Wallowa school Principal John Nesemann says that no information has been shared from neither the national nor the state level as to what a rural school in Oregon can do to prepare for the war. Joseph Superintendent Rich Graham reported an e-mail from Gov. Kulongoski's office stating, "The Governor wants to assure Oregonians that we are closely monitoring activities in Oregon and at this point see no immediate threat to the state." It went on to say, "While there is an increased level of concern on the national level, there is no specific information that directly affects Oregon."

Brad Royse, the superintendent and elementary principal at the Enterprise school, said that there was a crisis plan developed two to three years ago when a graffiti threat to the school was discovered in a locker room. He added that it has not been practiced. Royse said that lock down measures have been implemented at the school when the drug dog is brought into the school to look for drugs.

Graham said that lock down/intruder procedures are implemented at Joseph when the drug dog comes on campus. They last 45 minutes to an hour, said Graham, with no students allowed in the hallways. Fire drills are also practiced on a monthly basis, he added.

Spoken to the first full day of the war, Nesemann said the important thing to do was to probe students about personal connections they have with soldiers. "At this point we do not know about a lot of personal connections," he said. He suggested in the future that classes could adopt a unit in the war and send out letters.

Local administrators said that the war was being discussed in social studies classes.

Wallowa County Emergency Manager Matthew Marmor said, "As far as Wallowa County goes, there is no incredible threat other than what we face day to day."

In preparation for natural hazards such as floods, drought, wildland fires and wind he encouraged everyone to stock water, beverages and food, a battery operated radio, a flashlight and a manual can opener.

"We do not have the big targets that terrorists would point toward," said Marmor.

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