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Darts and laurels (11-15-14)

Laurels to Novant Health Rowan Medical Center and Rowan Helping Ministries for teaming up again this year to provide flu shots to homeless shelter guests. The shots are given annually as part of the hospital’s community outreach program and this year benefitted about 20 shelter guests who could not have gotten the vaccination elsewhere. The rest were veterans who can get the shots at the W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center or who have Medicaid and get the shot from a doctor. Getting the shot is the best protection against the flu. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the vaccination reduces the chance of seeing a doctor for flu-related illness by 60 percent. And while senior citizens, children younger than 2 and people with chronic health conditions are most at risk of experiencing complications from the flu, including pneumonia and dehydration, people without homes or regular health care have to be at greater risk than the general population. So for them, the shot could be a lifesaver.

• • •

Dart to what authorities say were dangerous incidents involving students at two Rowan County middle schools. A 14-year-old faces several charges after allegedly bringing two butcher knives with him to West Rowan Middle on Nov. 4, and waving one around in the school cafeteria while wearing a mask made to look like a demented clown. Two 13-year-old students at Southeast Middle School were charged after bringing what authorities call a pipe bomb to the school. The students reportedly told authorities they hadn’t planned to detonate the device at Southeast, but in a wooded area away from the school. That explanation probably didn’t ease the minds of other students, their parents and school employees, and it certainly didn’t prevent the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office from calling Cabarrus County’s bomb squad to deal with the device.

• • •

Laurels to Knox Middle School for encouraging students to think beyond their state-prescribed mandatory education. “Is middle school too early to start thinking about college?” began a column this week penned by Knox co-principals Mike Waiksnis and Latoya Dixon. They believe it is not too early, and had the school spend a week focusing on higher education. The students heard from teachers about their colleges, learned about various schools and admission requirements, discovered the benefits of earning a college degree, attended a mini-college fair where they got to talk with representatives from several schools, and signed college pledge cards. The co-principals’ column cited a University of Georgia report that said students should be thinking about and preparing for college as early as possible. Even if all the Knox students exposed to that information don’t go to college, if some do who otherwise might not have, the effort was worthwhile.

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