El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Mary York


Abraham Lincoln first instituted  the day of Thanksgiving during the Civil War.

Think about that.

During a time when brother was fighting brother, when the nation faced its darkest hour – the horrible reality that it might crumble from within, Lincoln recognized that we always have reasons to be thankful.

It has been a hard year for our nation, for our neighborhoods and for myself personally.

So, in the spirit of Lincoln’s example, I am going to share some of the things I am thankful for this year.

The Helix Highlanders do not like to leave the field early.

A football county legend with multiple standout college and pro athletes to its name, the Highlander football program is racing towards the CIF championship game once again.

But if playoffs were not exciting enough, last Friday, Nov. 9, the boys donning Helix jerseys found themselves facing a familiar foe: Grossmont High School.

Somehow, Thanksgiving has become very political.

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was a holiday meant to celebrate our American heritage and recognize the gracious provision of God in our lives. Until recently, that is how I thought everyone else viewed the holiday as well.

For many of us, the end of Election Day comes with sighs of relief.

Whether or not our candidate made it into office, or our proposition was passed, the tension in the air seems to have dissipated, the way it does after a big exam or a talk with the boss about a promotion. It does not matter as much that it went your way as it does that it is finally over.

I have had friends from both sides of the aisle dreaming of Wednesday morning for two weeks.

Following the Nov. 6 midterm election, it seems clear that the country is still a nation divided – but one that is willing to vote.

By the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Time Magazine had already called this election cycle “historic” for its high voter turnout.

I knew weeks ago that I would be here, at 2 a.m., sitting in my office at The Californian, trying to figure out what to say about voting.

I knew I was going to write my column about voting because I knew this was our election issue.

What I did not know, was that writing about voting would be more difficult than penning my opinions about immigration and housing and Father’s Day.

The race for the 50th Congressional District has narrowed down significantly for Democratic candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar and Republican incumbent Rep. Duncan Hunter.

Although Hunter has maintained his lead, a survey conducted by SurveyUSA for The San Diego Union-Tribune and 10News, surveying 800 adults from Oct. 25 to 29, revealed that Campa-Najjar has gained six percentage points in the last eight weeks.

Forty-eight percent of voters surveyed said they would cast a vote for Hunter, while 45 percent favored Campa-Najjar.

I watched Disney’s “Coco” for the first time this summer at 1 a.m. on a Thursday night, accompanied by a bottle of Reisling and every emotion I never knew I could feel for a movie about dancing, singing skeletons.

It must have been a grey, cloudy day when the door to my office creaked open and one of my bright-eyed colleagues peered in with a smile that told me something special was afoot. It must have been a grey day because every day in Prague is grey in October.

In October, in Prague and in classrooms around the globe, we celebrate World Teachers’ Day, and on that cozy afternoon when I was teaching in an elementary school in Braník, a suburb of the city, my colleague had come to tell me I had won an award as the most likable teacher.

There is a new consumer math teacher in town, and she is shaking things up.

Sarah Ritter, 25, has been teaching consumer math at Valhalla High School for three years and this year she decided it was time to take things to the next level.

Ritter said the program at Valhalla uses the Dave Ramsey curriculum and, while it is a good program, it was a little outdated.

“The materials were awesome but they were older, like ten years old,” said Ritter. “They were using examples from 2006.”