One day's news runs the gamut

By Krista Kafer From the Good... If you’re starved for happy news check out this article in the Rocky Mountain News about Ricardo Caldera, honored Monday for heroism at his elementary school. The nine-year-old shielded his younger brother from armed robbers who attacked his family’s Montbello home. The robbers fired into the basement window as they fled, hitting little Ricardo in the back.

Fortunately, the bullet missed Ricardo’s vital organs. When this young hero returned to Oakland Elementary School, he was honored with a trophy for bravery. A beautiful picture of Ricardo and his best friend, overjoyed by Ricardo’s recovery, accompanies the article. It is truly the brightest spot in the entire paper.

To the Bad... Actually it’s more like the horrible. Thirty-five miles south of Montbello, a Ponderosa High School social studies teacher Nicole Barnhart has been charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old student. Barnhart, who is married with children of her own, has apparently refused a plea deal.

According to the Rocky Mountain News, she has been charged with “sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust with a pattern of abuse.” The situation gave me déjà vu. Last week, another teacher, Debra LaFave, managed to get out of a jail sentence for having sex repeatedly with a 14-year-old student. While the vast majority of schoolteachers would rather die than harm a child, it’s chilling to think there are predators teaching in the classroom.

And then to the Ugly... Politics brings out the ugly in some people. Or shall I say the despicable. Peaceful protesting in person or by pen and thoughtful criticism are protected by the First Amendment. They are a healthy part of a vibrant democracy. Nasty, ad homonym attacks are not. Such appears to be the modus operandi of Colorado organization and its sister site Resembling these organizations are more about spewing vitriol than promoting actual ideas. Most recently, held a contest for the meanest billboard idea parodying President George W. Bush and Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave. The winning billboard hung as a prop at a planned protest of President Bush’s Tuesday speech at a Musgrave campaign event. The “winner” features the Congresswoman in a pink suit reminiscent of the one used in last year’s anti-Musgrave election ads. Beyond poor taste, the 2004 ads exemplified the worst of American politics.

After reading about the newest attack on Congresswoman Musgrave in the Rocky , I checked out the Web site. A sentence in the “about” section where the organization describes itself caught my eye. It said, “Change has to be made one person at a time, community by community, all across the state and the country. ProgressNow Action gives you the tools you need make this change happen...” The sentence is true. They’ve changed the course of one person’s life today. Mine. Their “tools” are the catalyst for this blog and my decision to volunteer for the Musgrave campaign.

By the end of the day, I was touched by the good, revolted by the bad, but compelled to action by the ugly.