The editor:

I have spent several hours this week watching basketball. Sports have always played an important role in my life.

Growing up with a father who spent seventeen years coaching basketball at Salyersville High School, being married to a man who coached at Kentucky Christian University for twenty years, and having two sons and two daughters who were involved in either basketball, football, baseball, track or cheerleading, you might say that I practically lived at a gym or on a field of some kind all my life. I've seen what athletics mean to many young people.

Saturday afternoon before the Cats played on television, I was in a gym for something other than a ballgame.

The East and West Carter bands joined together in the gym at West Carter to perform an All-County Band concert, and I enjoyed it as much as seeing the Raiders and Comets play basketball.

Most of these students don't play sports, although some do, as I was there for my grandson who also plays baseball and basketball at East Carter.

These young people have a different talent and have spent many years practicing to become the musicians they are today.

Having taught music in the public schools of Carter County for thirty years before I retired, I know what music means to these boys and girls. I sat there listening to the music and thought about Mr. Skidmore and Mr. Hylton, band directors at East and West, and was so impressed by what they have managed to teach these students to have them perform the way they did.

Whether playing the music of Dvorak or “Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat and Tears, the students were giving their best.

A great conductor, Jay Matheney, came from Louisville to work all day on Saturday morning joining the two bands to present their concert. And to make things really enjoyable for the students, and even more so for the parents and grandparents, Mr. Hylton directed “Purple Rain” while Mr. Skidmore played a mean guitar solo and Mr. Matheney sang along doing a good imitation of Prince. It was awesome!

Why, do you ask, are you writing this letter? Well, with all that has been in the media in the past few weeks concerning teachers' pensions, cutting funds and doing away with athletics and the arts in our schools, I just felt that I, as a former educator and grandparent to some pretty intelligent young people, wanted to say that it would be a travesty to do away with any of these programs.

Sports and the arts are very important in the lives of these students. They are physically and mentally challenging, not to mention the camaraderie that these young people enjoy both on and off the court, the field or in the classroom.

During my thirty years of teaching music in the Carter County school system, I taught practically every student in the county who was in school at that time. To those of you who are reading this letter, I ask that you make your feelings known to those who are making the decisions concerning these issues. Find a way to keep sports and the arts in our schools. Don't let our students miss out on using their God given talents.

Linda Damron

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