Five boys from Viola learned a lesson in charity on Jan. 2.

The boys had heard on social media that the day before, two women had stolen about $300 in tips from the Victoria's Ristorante & Wine Bar on First Avenue Southwest in Rochester. So, the boys pooled their funds and donated $200 to help cover the stolen cash.

"We just wanted to help them out," 11-year-old Carter Shea told reporter Brian Todd. "With all of their hard work, and they didn’t get to have they money they earned. And we like to donate."

Carter and his brothers – Bennett Shea, age 9, and Rowan Shea, age 6 – and their cousins – two brothers, Ryan Shea, 17, and Bronson Shea, 13, had earned the money selling sweet corn during the summer.

Missy Shea, along with her husband, Tom Shea, said they and her in-laws let the boys run the sweet corn business as an opportunity to learn responsibility.

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That includes a lesson in giving back. Thumbs up.

Students return to class

Elementary students in Rochester will return to classrooms starting Jan. 19, but some parents feel the change doesn't go far enough.

The Rochester School Board on Jan. 5 stopped short of instituting an all in-person schedule for elementary students, opting to offer a hybrid schedule instead. The hybrid model uses a combination of in-person and online learning.

The board, on a 5-2 vote, stopped short of guaranteeing that elementary students would return to an in-person learning model later on, as its COVID-19 advisory committee recommended.

But many parents say it's time for elementary students to return to the classroom full-time. An online petition has collected more than 1,000 signatures.

RPS Superintendent Michael Muñoz has indicated repeatedly that secondary students won’t return to the classroom until the COVID infection rate decreases.

Thumbs up that the board is at least considering changes to student schedules.

Partisanship still rules the day

A thinly divided Minnesota Legislature reconvened Jan. 5, with Democrats in control of the House, Republicans leading the Senate and Democratic Gov. Tim Walz holding veto power.

The most pressing issues include:

  • Responding to COVID-19 and Gov. Tim Walz's use of emergency powers.
  • Balancing a budget during uncertain economic times.
  • Redrawing the boundaries of legislative and congressional districts based on the new census. In recent years, the highly political process has ended up in the Minnesota Supreme Court.
  • Reacting to calls for racial justice. The House Select Committee on Racial Justice has issued a 45-page report calling for changes to public safety, housing, economic development and more.

All of this takes place in the shadow of the Jan. 6 siege at the Capitol Building. Our legislators, more than ever, need to lead by example and find common ground that will benefit the citizens of Minnesota. Thumbs down to partisan politics.