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Donna Meeks of DeLeon Springs teaches a writing class for a home-school cooperative. At the conclusion of the most recent series of classes, Meeks asked her students to try writing letters to the editor. “I allowed the kids to choose whatever topic they desired, and told them that this was a chance for their voices to be heard by several thousand people in our community,” Meeks told The Beacon. The young people, shown at left during one of their meetings, didn’t shy from their assignment. Their letters (some edited for length) are printed here. 

Be fair to dogs

Editor, The Beacon:

If a dog bites someone and it’s not that bad, the dog should get to live. 

So many dogs are killed because they bite someone, but what if that dog was just trying to protect itself? 

I will say that some dogs’ attacks are very bad and can claim someone’s life, but if it doesn’t take much to fix, then the dog should get to live. 

More than anything “pit bulls” — all they want is love, food, treats and belly rubs.

Anna Klein

Age 11

We need more shelters

Editor, The Beacon:

I am writing this letter to tell you that I think there should be more homeless shelters. There are so many homeless people, and I think there should be lots more shelters in each county. 

Also, I think homeless shelters should allow animals (if the person has one) to come with their owners. I hope more can be built.

Ella Bagg

Age 12

Gemini Springs needs attention

Editor, The Beacon:

I am writing to express my concern about the sinkhole at Gemini Springs Park. It has been there for a month, and no one has done anything to fix it. 

People have put a fence around it, but the hole just keeps growing. When the hole gets too big, they build a bigger fence.

Some people think there is a huge cavern underneath the hole. If that is true, children should stay away from it. 

Kids would like to play around the fence, just because there is a big hole.

If the hole is such a problem, why isn’t the park closed? It would be much safer for kids, workers could fix the problem, and the hole wouldn’t be there when the park opens.

Betsy Sereikas

Age 13 

DeBary residents need to show some pride

Editor, The Beacon:

I am very concerned! DeBary has become an overgrown wasteland! 

People think it’s OK to just throw soda cans, candy wrappers, empty water bottles, etc., in local ponds and on the side of the road! 

Not only does littering corrupt the ecosystem, it makes DeBary an unappealing place to live. We shouldn’t stand around doing nothing; we should take action!

First, there should be fines when people are caught littering. In addition, I suggest putting out more community trash cans, so people can easily dispose of trash.

Even regular community cleanup days may motivate people to help out. Finally, signs around town that remind residents to keep our city clean may solve the problem, too. 

It does not take much to throw away trash! lf we all work together, we can make DeBary clean!

Annie Beeler

Age 11 (almost 12)

Save the panthers

Editor, The Beacon:

I hope you all agree that the Florida panther should be saved.

There are 130-200 panthers left and, if we don’t save them, they will end up like the red wolves. There are only 50 red wolves living in the wild.

You can help these panthers by adopting one. I believe that they should be saved, because if they all go extinct, the food chain will be messed up. There will be too many deer, hogs and raccoons.

Kate Meeks

Age 11

Beacon needs more sports

Editor, The Beacon:

I think you should write and show the scores of Babe Ruth DeBary Little League, along with high school and college baseball. 

There are a lot of good players in the league, and this sport can be very entertaining but, sometimes, our team loses by five-10 runs. Our team may not be the best team, but fun. 

The DeBary Little League is full of travel-ball players, and sometimes the league wins the Extreme Team Tournament. 

This will also help scouts who want to have good players.

Joseph Thornton

Age 11

Monarchs are important

Editor, The Beacon:

I’m a supporter of the monarch butterfly. I feel that there is a problem with milkweed fields being chopped down and left for nothing, or being used for new construction, or other types of plants. 

These fields are not being replaced. This has caused a reduction in the monarch population by not allowing eggs to be laid or destruction of existing eggs. 

Butterflies are an important part of our habitat. They are excellent pollinators, but they are also an indicator of a healthy ecosystem.

Thank you for your time.

Allison Quinones

Age 12

Let these

people in!

Editor, The Beacon:

Mexican, South American and Central American people are starving, and it is a shame you don’t let them in just because of their culture, background or family members. 

They all know that America is the best country in the world, filled with opportunities for a new life. 

The government in China only lets families have one or two kids because there are so many people in China. But, really, more people makes your nation stronger.

People have set up camp right in Tijuana, Mexico, only feet away from the fence that separates Mexico and America. Some of those people have died on the journey, and others are now recovering from a horrible sickness, but they still continue on because of how great the America they know is.

There is a celebration when all the new citizens come together to form a parade. The people have wide smiles painted on their faces and poster boards saying how great America is.

So, here are a few questions: If people are willing to be good citizens by paying their taxes, obeying our laws and voting, why not let them in? What are you going to do to these people of God’s creation who should have equal rights?

Daniel Noyes

Age 11

Abortion hurts in many ways

Editor, The Beacon:

I know this is a controversial topic; it’s one that is rarely mentioned. 

I am talking about pro-life.

I wasn’t always pro-life. As a teen, I know what it’s like to want to be with someone and for them to love you, and you want them to be with you forever, so you do things that you would never normally do. So, I understand with the hormones and the constant need to feel loved that teens would want to have “relations.” It’s just natural and human. 

Don’t get me wrong, abstaining is an excellent way, but let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of teens who listen to the seminars, let alone obey, especially if they don’t have religion or just don’t care.

If a teen or other unmarried girl gets pregnant, she will freak out, and I understand; I would be scared, too. 

Sadly most girls don’t know they are pregnant until three to four weeks have passed and, the second the sperm hits the egg, the baby’s life has already begun. 

By the time most girls find out about their pregnancy, the child’s spinal cord and nerves have started developing, as well as the brain. They can already feel pain. 

By the seventh week, the child’s eyes, hands and legs are developing, plus brain waves are detectable, which means the child can think, dream and move. If that doesn’t show that something is alive, then I don’t know what else to tell you. 

By 10 weeks, the baby can breathe, smile, frown and hiccup. It isn’t just a “fetus,” it is a human being. 

The definition of “killing” or “murder” by the Merriam Webster dictionary is an act of causing death deliberately, which is what abortion does; it deprives a child from living a life and being loved. 

Doesn’t everything deserve love? I understand some women also cannot take care of their child, and that’s why we have adoption services.

Abortion isn’t only bad for the child, it’s also terrible for the mother. Many women after having an abortion feel regret, anger, shame, a sense of loneliness or isolation, depression, loss of self-confidence, insomnia and nightmares, relationship problems, anxiety and eating disorders, and many have suicidal thoughts.

Also, the father, imagine how he feels, his chance to raise his own kids … gone. The chance to show his skills and share his dreams and to pass down his wisdom … gone. 

I hope with this letter I can save a few children and maybe change a few minds.  I hope I helped someone in some way.

Sara Rose Thornton

Age 14

Don’t pet service dogs

Editor, The Beacon:

I am writing to you because there are a few things I feel need to be addressed on the issue of service dogs. 

I am 15 years old, and I have a medical-alert service dog currently in training.

I have been surprised by the number of people who still feel the need to pet a service dog. This is both children and adults but, surprisingly, mainly adults. 

I have a hard time saying no to people who walk up to pet my dog, often without asking first. However, it is a problem while training, and especially as he is working. He does wear his service vest, which sports a “Do Not Pet“ patch. 

People should already know it is wrong to pet a working dog, especially with the reminder the dog is wearing. 

I thought, perhaps, it was my age that allowed people to approach me and ask to pet my dog. It does seem, though, that many people I’ve come across actually do not know you should not pet service dogs.

We use a professional trainer and organization for training. It will take almost two years for my dog to be fully trained. We are more than halfway there. 

Many people do not seem to be aware that just purchasing a vest and a patch does not make a service dog. It takes a lot of work on everyone’s part, as well as the time.

I would also like to remind your readers that just because you cannot see a disability does not mean one does not exist. You do not always know what is happening in someone’s life or their body, so you should not assume they do not need a service dog, or that they have a fake vest to allow the dog to be where a dog otherwise would not be allowed. 

I would really like more people to be a little more educated and a lot more considerate.

Evan Quinones

Age 15