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Break tradition: lengthen annual school term

Every year about this time the nagging feeling comes around that perhaps we should re-think traditional school calendars, or more specifically, the nine-month school year broken by a nearly three-month summer vacation.

The majority of industrialized countries don’t use it because that large gap between grade levels is believed to be too lengthy. It breaks the learning cycle and puts the burden on teachers to bring students “back to earth” on vital matters like concentration, recalling what they learned last year and delving into new material.

China, for instance, has a school year that runs from early September to mid-July — some six weeks longer than ours (school days run from 7:30 am-5 pm!).

Japan requires 240 days (vs. 180 here) and gives students three equal breaks from April when new levels begin through March.

In South Korea, the year is divided into two semesters — March to July and September to February — with intervening one-month breathers.

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Junior all-star squad takes third place at state tournament

Baker County’s Junior All-Star squad recently completed its season with a strong showing at the Florida state finals in Fort Braden in Leon County. The local contingent of 13- and 14-year-olds was one of five teams to claim a berth in the state title round after advancing through tough district and sectionals.

The girls finished Baker County Junior Softball’s first-ever trip to the finals with a 2-2 record in the state bracket, earning the team a third place. They notched wins over St. Cloud (11-0) and Miami South Beach (10-4).

Coach P.J. Lefebvre had high praise for the team that clinched the North Florida Little League district 11 title with twin wins over Hilliard, including a dominating 32-3 rout.

After securing the Section Three title with a bye win, the local all-stars turned their attention to preparing for the five-team round robin state bracket. Coaches Lefebvre, Zary Alford, Taylor Jones, Tina Fraze and Steven Hancock drilled the team hard to ready it for the sweltering heat expected during the weekend tournament.

“Our girls were fire at the plate. As a team we had a .350 batting average, with seven players over .300 and both Melanie Sweat and Jesselynn Williams leading the way with averages over .500,” said Coach Lefebvre.

Ashton Alford was the team’s “go-to” slugger, driving in ten runs, while third base anchor Angel Jackson smacked two triples.

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Campaign ads” thruthful or just slurs?

Gregory BohannonMost of the time local candidates running for public office focus on their own experience and qualifications in campaign ads. But in recent weeks some of the ads have taken a decidedly different approach, leveling attacks against the opposition.

The mud-slinging has been most apparent in the race for the Republican Party’s candidate for sheriff in the general election.Cameron Coward

Second-time sheriff candidate Gregory Bohannon, 50, has published multiple ads calling into question newcomer Cameron Coward’s conduct as a deputy with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

Mr. Bohannon has claimed his 28-year-old opponent failed to fulfill the terms of a school security contract by not neatly maintaining an on-campus residence and received a reprimand from his superiors. Another ad said he was suspended for failing to submit evidence, and as a result, a criminal case was dismissed.

A third ad asserts that Mr. Coward was disciplined and placed under investigation numerous times by his employer.

Mr. Coward responded with his own message, which was repeated in the newspaper and at The Press’ candidate forum July 28, that the attack ads were “outright lies” and misleading. He also conveyed his commitment to running a clean campaign.

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Mistrial declared in rape case

The day-long trial of a Baker County man for sexual battery on a young girl came to abrupt halt the afternoon of August 3 when the judge declared a mistrial because she feared a defense attorney’s closing argument may have biased the jury.

The decision means a new trial date will be set for later this year on the two felony counts pending against Charleton D. Lauramore. He is charged with raping a girl under the age of 12 on at least five occasions between December, 2005 and June of the following year.

Both the 45-year-old defendant and the victim testified earlier that day before the six-member jury began deliberation in the late afternoon. The jury foreman sent a note to Judge Phyllis Rosier shortly after inquiring about the maximum sentences under law for sexual battery and battery.

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