Pomp, tragedy share headlines

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Amid the "pomp and circumstance" of a busy graduation week for local high schools has been a rash of bad news.

Graduation is a busy and fun time in the news business. We still treat coverage of commencement exercises as a priority, and include a list of all graduates' names from each school in our ceremony stories. After Lourdes on May 23 and Line Mountain and North Schuylkill on May 31, this week has included Mount Carmel Area graduation on Thursday and Shamokin Area Friday. Southern Columbia wraps up this year's exercises with its traditional Sunday commencement tomorrow.

Otherwise, the bad news continues to pile up. After decades in which we can't recall a local case where police used deadly force in the apprehension of a suspect, we've reported on two cases within a week. There are more headlines to come as authorities investigate the fatal shooting of ex-cop fugitive Anthony J. Galla on May 28 near Philadelphia and teen suspect Naheem Reams, who was critically wounded by a shot from a Sunbury police officer as he tried to elude authorities in his car early Wednesday along Front Street in the county seat.

The Sunbury incident continued a string of tragic news to start the week. Monday's edition included coverage of a fire in Atlas - the sixth one in that Mount Carmel Township village since April 26. Fortunately, again, no one was injured, and this blaze is not suspicious, unlike many of the others.

Monday at newsitem.com and in Tuesday's print and online editions came news of the death of an 11-week-old boy in Shamokin. While authorities have since said they found nothing of suspicion in an autopsy on the baby's body, the turnout of local and state police, a state police forensics unit and the coroner's office, issuance of a search warrant and the confiscation of items from the house drew considerable media attention and generated lead headlines.

The mix of graduation salutes and tragedy perhaps serves as a metaphor for students that, while they have "the world ahead of them," it is a difficult world, indeed.

(Andy Heintzelman, editor of The News-Item, writes "The Week In News" for each Saturday edition.)

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