Archive for Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Shouts and Murmurs: Faces in and around Tonganoxie

January 8, 2003

What a thrill to be on the scene when the Tonganoxie High School band arrived back in town last Wednesday night after a victorious trip to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn.

The teens and their chaperones looked weary but exuberant as they carried in their belongings and put the school's band room back in place. In the midst were the band's 10 new trophies and plaques proudly displayed on the piano.

Most exuberant of all was Charles VanMiddlesworth, the man who has put the THS band on the map. He directed the unloading of the bus as he directs everything else, with energy, with enthusiasm and with an obvious desire to get the job done and to do it not just right, but to perfection.

As "Mr. Van" visited with the students afterward, he tossed the souvenir game ball in the air, a ball purchased for him by his band members, complete with all of their autographs, a fitting remembrance for a trip that as Mr. Van said, brought the band's abilities to a new level.

Congratulations to the Tonganoxie High School marching band and to everyone who helped in making the achievements possible.

We look forward to seeing where indeed the "new level" will take this band.

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Another leader in our school system is the Tonganoxie High School debate team, which has already claimed numerous awards during the fall semester. The season's not over yet. And, in May a group of THS debaters is heading to national competition in Arlington, Va. Like the band, the credit goes to the teacher, Steve Harrell, as well the students. Look for an upcoming Mirror story and photo of your favorite debaters.

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The Mirror lost an important behind-the-scenes man last week when Butch Porter, a production supervisor at the Lawrence Journal-World, died Thursday.

Early last week we heard that Butch, who was 56, was in a Topeka hospital and would undergo coronary bypass surgery. But he had another heart attack, and the damage to his heart was too extensive for him to recover, even after the bypass.

Heart disease can be deceiving -- sometimes it's not until conditions are nearly irreversible that we even know it's present. The last time I saw Butch -- at the company's Christmas dinner -- he looked strong and robust, as always.

Butch had a way about him in the back shop. He sometimes sounded gruff, but always, there was that twinkle in his eyes that let you know, even when things were bad, that they weren't that bad.

All of us here at The Mirror will miss Butch's expertise. And we'll miss hearing his voice on the weekly "go home" phone calls made Tuesday evenings after the Journal-World receives our last pages via computer.

Having once again been reminded of the seriousness of heart disease, I will take this moment to ask everyone to do all you can to prevent it. Don't smoke, watch your diet, stay within recommended weight guidelines, exercise regularly and see your doctor for checkups.

And remember that even in this uncertain world of ours, heart disease, even in mid-life, is one condition we can help prevent.

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