A public venue for a public event

The recent decision by Lynchburg City Schools administration to hold graduation on the grounds of a private Christian University for the class of 2020 is troubling to me as a parent and as a taxpayer.

This time last year, when discussion began about moving graduation away from Lynchburg’s two public high schools to a venue that would hold more people, I was disappointed but understood that for some families, six tickets are not enough (my family received 12 tickets — we needed three). Our twins graduated from E.C. Glass High School in May, walking proudly across the same stage I crossed 38 years ago and the same stage where Martin Luther King Jr., a man with a consistent message of acceptance of all people, spoke 58 years ago.

When my family heard that the venue would likely be on the Liberty University campus, we knew we would have to make a choice about whether or not to attend graduation. Too many of our children’s peers would not be or feel welcome on the grounds of an institution where the message is repeated that they would go to hell for their religious preference, sexual orientation or gender status. We were relieved when we learned that there would be no such move off LCS grounds and we did not have to make that choice.

The plan for LCS to hold the graduations for the Class of 2020 at Liberty was foiled due to roof repairs at the Vines Center, much to the relief of many families and students. Reading the comments provided on the survey from students who would feel unwelcome at Liberty and listening to their remarks to the School Board directly has me wondering why LCS did not more seriously consider other alternatives (the Vines Center was the only option other than the schools offered on the survey). Their concerns are real, heartfelt and significant.

Given the sensitive and controversial issue of holding graduation at Liberty University, using tax dollars to pay the nearly $10,000 fees, I hope the School Board will seriously reconsider their options when planning for the graduating classes of 2021. City Stadium is a reasonable choice, given the number of seats and the parking. Outdoor graduations are the tradition for countless highschools and colleges across the country, so why not here in Lynchburg? The schools could be back-up sites in the case of rain — with overflow seating and video feeds in the cafeterias for guests in excess of six per graduate. And importantly, our tax dollars stay within the city infrastructure; indeed money could even be made on concessions!

For the LCS classes of 2020, may you feel pride and joy as you receive your diplomas where you are all welcome and have worked hard to earn your achievement.

GINA DOLAN-SEWELL

Lynchburg

Editor’s note: The writer is a former chairwoman of the Lynchburg School Board.

Gun control threatens liberty

Thank you to all those who spoke on Jan. 14 in support of Lynchburg becoming a Second Amendment Sanctuary. Your eloquence and passion did not go unnoticed except, sadly, by the mayor and a majority of City Council.

To the gun owners and enthusiasts who spoke in favor of gun control and allowing the process to play out in Richmond, you must have already attended one of Bernie Sanders reeducation camps. Let me remind you, income and Social Security taxes began as very modest intrusions into our personal liberty. And they are now at confiscatory rates.

The emboldened advocates of socialism and big government will not stop until the possession and sale of all firearms is illegal. How well did that work out for alcohol and drugs?

JO ANN STOVER

Lynchburg

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