It was a sad day for the Victor Valley last Thursday when news hit that St. Mary's Regional Catholic School is closing its doors after more than half a century.


It turns out declining enrollment -- the school currently has less than 125 students -- is the culprit.


St. Mary's gave local Catholic parents the opportunity to have their children taught in a way they believed was best. That means that besides academic studies, Bible scripture, Catholic-based values and other religious beliefs could be passed along directly to students. Certainly, those children won't enjoy the same religious freedom -- or nurturing educational environment -- in a public school setting.


Sad, sad, sad.


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Speaking of sad, last week I received a very simple, direct, one-paragraph press release from the Hesperia Recreation and Park District:


HESPERIA HORSEMEN EVENTS CANCELLED


All future events for Hesperia Horsemen have been cancelled. The Hesperia Horsemen group has been dissolved.  Gymkhana participants are encouraged to contact the Hesperia Wranglers for a schedule of events.


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Chris Ackerman, who serves on the Hesperia Chamber's board of directors and edits the organization's monthly newsletter, recently was hired by Sunset Hills and Victor Valley Memorial Parks and Mortuaries. Ackerman, whose mother is "Father Knows Best" actress Elinor Donahue, is a graphic artist who recently lost his job due to the Victor Valley's economic struggles.


It's good to see that Chris has landed on his feet so quickly.


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The Academy Award nominations can be a farce. This year is no exception.


Heath Ledger, the late actor who played one of the most ghoulish key male roles in recent memory, was nominated for an Oscar in the "Supporting Role" category. There was nothing supporting about it. He was the antagonist with a tremendous amount of screen time.


Clearly, the Academy merely wants to ensure that Ledger gets a posthumous award because that's the politically correct thing to do. He'll probably win and his widow will accept his award. There will be a soaring orchestral score as she walks up to receive the Oscar. There won't be a dry eye in the house.


Certainly he was great in "Batman" (Ledger was even better in "Brokeback Mountain"). Perhaps his performance deserves an Academy Award, but just not in the Supporting Role category. Ah, but the Leading Role award is reserved for either Brad Pitt, who was in one of the most popular movies of the year, Mickey Rourke or Sean Penn, who is likely to walk away with the Oscar for his performance in "Milk."