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Durlynn Anema: CHP pays tribute to son of fallen officer

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Posted: Sunday, June 11, 2017 1:07 pm

When we pulled into the parking lot for the Lodi Christian School eighth grade promotion exercises we wondered at all the California Highway Patrol vehicles. However, upon entering Temple Baptist Church we understood the reason.

Twenty CHP representatives had gathered to celebrate the promotion of Chandler Miller, whose father John Paul Miller, a former CHP officer, was killed in the line of duty when Chandler was 5. And what a tribute it was when all 20 clapped as Chandler’s name was called.

As most of you probably know, the brotherhood of police and fire personnel runs deep. They not only arrive in force for any brother’s or sister’s memorial service, but are there for the children throughout the years. My first experience with this was when son Jay had just begun service with the Stockton Fire Department. Two Stockton firemen were killed in a severe fire with the memorial service held at Spanos Center. Dignitaries including Lt. Governor Gray Davis were there as well as representatives from fire departments throughout the West and some farther east. It was quite impressive — as was this tribute to Chandler.

The promotion exercises also were well done — quick with few speeches from adults and three excellent speeches from the co- salutatorians and the valedictorian. Nice to see an event focusing on the honorees rather than on some adult who wants to speak.

•••

Recently, I had an email from Michael Sagehorn, Tokay Class of 1978. He had read one of my columns in 2015 about Tokay High and said “it brought back memories.”

What triggered those memories were my comments about journalism teacher Wayne Field. Michael said about Field: “While a taskmaster, what many learned from him was a commitment to the First Amendment, particularly for high school journalism. He used to say, “you can’t expect students to be useful and engaged citizens without test-driving their constitutional rights.”

Sagehorn then went on to talk about five role models — Charlie Schiffman, Leroy Carney, Walter Katnich, Paul Press, and Ron Braden. While most of these men are no longer with us, those who survived them need to hear these words.

“What I remember was how men like (the five mentioned) did not mince words to let us know we were not learning or playing to their high standards. Mr. Carney changed my life in high school,” Sagehorn said.

“As a sophomore when I had Ds and an F on a quarter report card, he called me in for a conference. He looked at me with those big hands on the desk and said, ‘Michael, what do you want to do after high school?’ I said something lame like, ‘Get a football scholarship to Cal.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Not a chance. These grades are the s----. No one will give you anything. You’ll be lucky to be a walk-on at Delta.’”

“It hit me like a ton of bricks. I improved my grades, but my coaches and Charlies had no fear to use a little terse language to get my attention.”

Sagehorn is now a history teacher at Deer Valley High School in Antioch and also coaches rugby. He talks about how high schools have changed, some not for the better and “students seem to only wade in the scholastic ‘shallow end of the pool’ in classes with little rigor.”

He concluded his remarks by saying that “as a teacher I’ve attempted to use some of these men’s comments in selected instances in which I knew the students’ families, but in high school today it’s risky to ‘care’ like this now.”

His comments have to be heard — ones of frustration which I have heard from many present day teachers and administrators. And aren’t they also a great tribute to Wayne, Charlie, Leroy, Walter, Paul and Ron? Thanks, Michael.

•••

Some interesting quotations:

“You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.”

— Harry Truman quoted in Fortune.com

“If you’re more interested in what you’re saying than the person listening to you is, you’re the definition of a boring person.”

— David Foster Wallace quoted in TheGuardian.com,

“Here’s a corollary to the assertion that candidates aren’t all-important: You can’t fix Washington by electing the right person to a position of national power. No one leader can bust up Washington’s partisan stagnation. No savior exists who through sheer force of personality will persuade Congress to stop arguing and start passing important, difficult stuff. And maybe that’s not so bad. Maybe it’s actually O.K. Maybe it’s preferable to the alternative.”

— From Quill, a Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists, November/December 2016.

email me: durlynnca@gmail.com

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