Darts and laurels

  • Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013 12:16 a.m.

Laurels to the Rowan-Salisbury School System for its exemplary results in the Digital School Districts Survey, an annual national ranking that measures how well districts are implementing technology in academic and administrative areas. RSS not only made the top 10 for the second consecutive year but also moved up in the rankings, jumping from ninth to sixth place. It was the only North Carolina school to land in one of the top spots.

While students today have grown up in the digital age, there’s a big difference between entertainment and education. It takes a lot of effort, equipment and training to bring this technology into the classroom and use it to enhance learning and improve the efficiency of district operations. It also takes an ongoing commitment to provide students the most up-to-date tools, as Supt. Judy Grissom noted in acknowledging the role of supporters such as the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation. If you aren’t moving ahead with technology, you’re falling behind. Kudos to the school system for being among national leaders in this area.

Dart to the outbreak of measles in Stokes and Orange counties, where seven cases had been reported as of late this week. While that’s a relatively small number, health officials are concerned because the disease is highly contagious among unvaccinated populations, and measles is a serious illness. Although the initial symptoms may be similar to a cold, with coughing, a fever and runny nose, the worst cases can result in serious complicatons or even death. Before the measles vaccine was widely available, the disease claimed about 450 lives annually in the United States.

Laurels to research at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill that is increasing our understanding of the role trees play in smog production. While we think of trees as oxygen producers and air purifiers, scientists have long known that trees also emit isoprene, a molecule that protects leaves from oxygen damage and temperature changes. Recently, however, UNC researchers have discovered that isoprene can have a harmful effect on our air. When it interacts with the man-made nitrogen oxides typically found in auto and power plant emissions, isoprene creates particulate pollution that can damage lungs and cause other problems. That’s not a reason to clearcut forests, but it does underscore the need to continue reducing nitrogen oxide emissions.

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