Criticism of raffle subjects River Hill to stereotyping...

LETTERS

April 01, 2001

Criticism of raffle subjects River Hill to stereotyping

I want to respond to Laura Vozzella's article regarding the River Hill High School Boosters' car raffle ("Raffle prize raises eyebrows," March 21). My stepson, Steve Clayton, won the car. And I, along with many others, feel The Sun's article was an unfair attack on the River Hill community.

Many active and caring parents work hard to support the school and its students.

Are there elitists and affluent people in our community? Absolutely. Are there high school kids who have no concept of hard work or the value of money? Absolutely.

But I think it is important to remember that, just as we tell our kids that stereotypes are unfair, our community as a whole suffers from these stereotypes -- and we are all treated as "guilty by association" just because we are part of the River Hill community.

The car was won by a hardworking young man, who does not have anything handed to him. He paid for the raffle tickets with money he earned from his job. He paid the $1,300 sales tax and registration fee with his own money. He is paying the insurance with his own money. And he will be paying the income taxes on the entire value of the car. This has been a thrilling, yet eye-opening experience for him. And he is handling it maturely and responsibly.

How many in the River Hill community who are now critical of the raffle (because of The Sun's article) bought tickets?

The decision to award the car instead of choosing the 50-50 option was made by caring people in the best interest of the school.

This was a raffle. It was presented as such. The fact that the magic number of tickets was not sold made it a tough decision for the boosters. But I don't think any of us can second-guess their action or question their ethics or intent to do good for the school. I ask those who are critical of the process to get involved and make constructive recommendations for future events. The more positive input we provide, the better our community will be.

Judy Clayton

Columbia

Generous parents make school, county better

Laura Vozzella's article on the River Hill High School Boosters was a blatant attempt at promoting class envy ("Raffle prize raises eyebrows," March 21).

Instead of focusing on the positive aspects of the school, the boosters and the many programs they support, the article attempted to bait other communities into sniping at us.

Study after study finds that parents should take an active role in their children's education. We, as a community, have backed our feeder schools and River Hill High School financially and, more important, with our daily presence, in an attempt to provide our children with the best possible education.

In the end, our efforts to raise the achievement of the school benefit us as a community, but, more important, they help Howard County as a whole.

If our property values increase, and they have, the tax base supports everyone.

Ms. Vozzella reports that, instead of reneging on a raffle for a new car, the boosters could have used a "loophole to give the winner a lesser cash prize." I find it refreshing that the boosters did not take the easy way out, stood on principle and dug into the coffers.

It was my choice to work 60 to 70 hours a week so I could afford to move into a community that had public schools that can meet my children's needs. It is also my choice to spend my money on raffle tickets, fund-raising dinners and in any other manner I choose.

That is what makes this country great.

Kurt Zanelotti

Ellicott City

The Sun chided the River Hill High Boosters for raffling a car and sponsoring a graduation boat ride (whose purpose is to provide a drug- and alcohol-free celebration -- a fact The Sun omits) ("Raffle prize raises eyebrows," March 21 and "There's trouble right here in River Hill," comment, March 25). Would you approve if a parent-donor selfishly put that money into a Mercedes instead?

I paid $125 at the auction for a teacher's lasagna dinner. Profligate? Yes. I'm a single mom who works two jobs, but like many River Hill parents I'm a passionate supporter of my kids' schools. I'll fund school banners, computer tables and team warm-ups through the boosters, because the county doesn't.

Let's be grateful for generous parents.

Susan Vanderlinde

Fulton

Sufficient school space should be top priority

I am proud to say I was part of the "spectacle of parents herding balloon-carrying children" at the county executive's budget hearing on March 12 ("County must limit spending on education," Howard letters, March 25).

Those children are the very children who will not have a seat when they get to high school. Those children are my children.

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