We offer our cheers and jeers for local newsmakers as we look back over the previous week:
Cheers to Da Vinci High School teacher Tyler Millsap and his students for continuing to delve deeply into the stories of local veterans as part of a project for the Library of Congress.
For the past four years, Da Vinci juniors have interviewed more than 70 combat veterans from Yolo County and beyond. And while the interviews are now a permanent part of the Library of Congress, the impact on the students asking the questions may be just as lasting.
Since creating the America at War project at Da Vinci, Millsap and the program have both been honored nationally — Millsap as one of the “40 most influential high school teachers under 40″ and the project itself as one of the best in the country.
Cheers also to Francis Resta, a World War II veteran who was among the interviewees this fall. Resta agreed to relive painful memories of horrific days on the battlefields of Europe to help the students in their quest. Indeed, dredging up those memories decades ago prompted Resta to seek help for his post-traumatic stress disorder.
He participates in regular group therapy with other combat veterans to this day, and has written a book about PTSD as well, “The Combat Veteran and PTSD, and Help For the Family.” It’s a subject on which he speaks passionately, and it resonated with the students who interviewed him.
We applaud both Resta and the students for their roles in exposing the true horrors of war.
Jeers to the notion that a pedestrian, no matter how fast, could outrun a vehicle traveling at freeway speeds. Such a decision led to the tragic death this week of Bryson LaBourdette, 25, of Davis, who is believed to have encountered car trouble Tuesday morning while traveling on Highway 50 near the Interstate 80 connector and attempted to cross the highway on foot. The young man was struck by several vehicles and died at the scene.
Our hearts go out to the LaBourdette family on their loss. We hope motorists faced with similar circumstances in the future understand that the safest thing to do is to remain in their vehicles until help arrives.
Cheers to the UC Davis women’s basketball player Lauren Beyer, whose hard work turned a potential career-ending injury into a tale of triumph.
In November of 2011, she came down from a rebound attempt and landed awkwardly on her right leg. She ended up with ACL, MCL and meniscus tears as well as a broken tibia that had hit her femur, causing further damage to her upper leg. Her ankle tendons were torn.
Coming full circle, Beyer was back on the court for UC Davis on Nov. 26, 2013. She scored 10 points in her return.
Beyer stands as a testament to hard work and perseverance. What a wonderful Aggie role model she is.
And finally, cheers to UC Davis Chancellor Emeritus Larry Vanderhoef, who continues to make progress in recovering from two strokes he suffered about a year ago. We had occasion to see Vanderhoef this week and get an update on the book he’s writing about his remarkable 25-year career as executive vice chancellor/provost and chancellor of our great university.
That book will be a collection of vignettes — “chapters along the way,” Vanderhoef calls them — from his tenure, focusing on such accomplishments as the transformation of the UCD Medical Center from a county hospital into a world-class health care institution and the development of the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. Also planned are a look back at the development of the campus’ Principles of Community and its policies concerning accommodation of students with disabilities.
We miss you, Larry, and look forward to seeing you around town and at Aggie basketball games!