3 letters: Put academics in Athlete of the Year criteria; Firefighter’s wife responds to column; Advice for a Gavilan student trying to transfer

Athlete of the Year at the high schools should include criteria for academic performance
Dear Editor,
Like other parents, I am absolutely thrilled to have a son or daughter involved in sports, let alone recognized for playing one.
I know it is impossible to keep everyone happy. However, I have a suggestion: Instead of having a “Senior Athlete of the Year”, why not have a “Senior STUDENT Athlete of the Year”.
This would not only judge the gifted ATHLETE representing the school(s), but it would also judge the STUDENT. We all know how important it is for young adults to learn how to manage their time. Specifically, what time to devote to their bodies and what amount of time to devote to their minds. By combining the two, I think the city of Gilroy gets a better representation of the people that will soon become leaders in our community.
Example: Christopher High has an athlete who made first team “all-league” in both football and lacrosse. This student also held himself to high standards in the classroom by maintaining a 4.0 grade average. I failed to mention the student/athlete played both sports while injured. This student is the most respectable person I know. No, this athlete is not my child. But, I wonder how many student/athletes are out there that are more deserving of this award than the ones listed in The Dispatch. These are the student athletes that devote an equal amount of time in class as well as on the field. This may exclude some pure athletes, but isn’t it worth it? Something to ponder.
Brian Pickens, Gilroy
Too quick to judge firefighters in Gilroy – so here’s a whole different perspective
Dear Editor,
I was appalled as I read “The Word” column this week by Mark Derry claiming how he would like to embrace our firefighting heroes and then throwing them all under the bus.
He has offered only ONE perspective and FAULTY assumptions regarding the work and life of a Gilroy firefighter. While he may have an issue with the recent lawsuit, it doesn’t justify attacking all firefighters with erroneous statements and hyperbole.
Let’s take into consideration another perspective, the wife of a Gilroy firefighter/paramedic who has served this community for 16 years. I may not have a weekly column to spread assumptions and overgeneralizations, but I have a voice and have witnessed first hand the life of a Gilroy firefighter/paramedic.
Faulty assumption #1: It’s night and day, really the job of a police officer is far more difficult and dangerous.
While my husband was rendering medical attention, he has had a gun attempted to be pulled out on him, has been attacked from behind and on a number of occasions while performing CPR on a gunshot victim, not certain that the assailant who shot the person wasn’t still present. That’s dangerous.
We haven’t even addressed the issue of blood borne pathogens such as HIV, Hepatitis B & C and other infectious microorganisms that our firefighters are exposed to daily. Yes, the vast majority of calls are for medical assistance, however, it is still a difficult and dangerous job.
Faulty assumption #2: Gilroy is a pretty tame place to be a firefighter.
How would you know? I recall not too many years ago a fire that broke out up in the Mt. Madonna foothills. I prayed for my fifth generation Gilroyan family and all our neighbors out on Hecker Pass Highway.
Given the winds, terrain, climate and fuel for the fire, we can never make the assumption that Gilroy is a tame place to be a firefighter. Who knows, the meth lab in your neighbor’s kitchen could blow at any time (its happened in Gilroy), a fire starter can start a number of fires along the levee (its happened in Gilroy) and the cigarettes that will continue to be thrown from vehicles have and will continue to start fires. We may not be a metro area like Chicago or San Francisco, but fire does not discriminate. We don’t need to have high-rise buildings and millions of people to have loss of life and property due to fire.
Faulty assumption #3: The emotional and mental toll is far greater for a police officer than a firefighter.
How would you know? The recent double murder of a mother and daughter, the murder-suicide of a San Jose Police Officer and his wife and the multitude of gang and domestic violence incidents that happen in our community, the Gilroy firefighters are there saving lives and enduring the trauma first hand. Many seek psychological counseling following these traumatic events in an effort to cope with the mental toll it takes to save lives and many times to be witness to the premature loss of life.        Faulty assumption #4: It’s too bad and baffling that firefighters don’t seem to understand the good thing they’ve got.
Again, how would you know? My husband and his fellow colleagues have repeatedly said how fortunate they are to have their careers, how they like serving the community and are men and women who care and provide for their families, just like many other working community members.
It’s easy to point fingers and criticize figures, salaries and retirements, yet who are you Mr. Derry to judge as to who deserves what? If all it takes to judge is to have one’s own column, sign me up!
Denise Besson Silvia, Gilroy
Advice to the Gavilan student: follow through, triple check
Dear Editor,
I would like to respond to the young lady who wrote the letter posted on April 26 about the staff at Gavilan College. I, too, am transferring to a four-year university this fall.
I commend you, because having recently completed my general education, I can tell you this is no easy feat. However, the same commitment that you put into your studies is required for the transfer process. Consistent monitoring and follow up in the application process is important.  Ultimately, it is your responsibility to make sure that the transcripts, as well as any other required documents, are sent and received as required.
I understand you have been busy trying to finish up classes, but diligent monitoring of all things related to your transfer is required to ensure success. I made many phone calls confirming the sending and receiving of transcripts and kept records  in case something went wrong. Some classmates went one step further, picking up their original transcripts and delivering them unopened to their future universities.
Other students who applied to universities too far away to deliver their transcripts in person took them to the post office and ordered confirmation of delivery. I know it seems like a lot to do. I, too, felt overwhelmed at times. However, these efforts are necessary if you want to avoid problems like you’re having now.
I also want to tell everyone that the professors, counselors and staff have been wonderful during my time at Gavilan. It is a great school and everyone has shown genuine dedication to helping students reach their educational goals.
Congratulations on a job well done completing your transfer requirements. I urge you to leave no step in your transfer process unmonitored, and I wish you nothing but future success.
Michelle Kara, Gilroy

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