Editor’s note: The weekly “Thumbs Up-Thumbs Down” editorial offers opinions on highs and lows in the news during the past week.
Thumbs up: Jim and Gloria Ganther are making a habit of giving away their money to the Chippewa Valley’s young people. The Ganthers don’t know most of these youth, but they still want to recognize their accomplishments with a token of their appreciation.
For the past five years, the Ganthers have noted the achievements of students they see in the Leader-Telegram, according to reporter Elizabeth Dohms’ story. They then sent small amounts of money to about 100 of those young people with a certificate congratulating them on their accomplishments. The Ganthers’ children don’t mind a bit that some of their inheritance is going to high-achieving teens.
A majority of the recipients send thank-you letters to the Ganthers, who are in their 80s and have been married for more than five decades. The thank-yous emphasize that students applaud the fact there are people in the community who appreciate what young people are doing on their way to adulthood. That makes it all worthwhile for the Ganthers.
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Thumbs down: The slow demise of Wisconsin’s family farms — including in the Chippewa Valley — is changing the rural landscape and the communities that are such an important part of our state.
A total of 27 dairy farms stopped operating last year in Eau Claire, Chippewa and Dunn counties, according to a story by the Leader-Telegram’s Ben Rueter. In Wisconsin, the state is down more than 500 dairy herds from this time last year. As farms have disappeared, so have the families that have populated our rural schools. The domino effect has been devastating for the schools and communities.
Eau Claire County will host Farm Technology Days in 2020. While FTD isn’t just about dairy farming, it is what put Wisconsin on the map. And we’d hate to see it go away one day.
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Thumbs up: Hmong children should be able to thrive in their English-speaking classrooms while not forgetting their heritage.
A new Hmong language club is allowing fourth- and fifth-grade students at Locust Lane Elementary School to learn to read and write their traditional Hmong language, according to reporter Lauren French’s story in the Leader-Telegram. The students in the club speak at least some Hmong at home, but do not read and write in the language. Instructors directing the club say they want young Hmong students to have a strong connection with their history, and they fear students’ knowledge of the Hmong culture is disappearing. “My generation is losing it, and our kids are losing it more,” says instructor True Vue. “Part of my mission is to not lose that culture and tradition.”
The Eau Claire school district also is starting a “Hmong History and Culture” course in high school. The club and the course are important moves to help a significant part of our community.