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Laurels & lances: Art and history and crimes and punishment

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Laurel: To “Hamilton” for prioritizing education. The hottest ticket in town is a free ticket for 2,700 Pennsylvania students who scored a shot at seeing the Tony Award-winning megahit at the Benedum Center on Friday as part of the Hamilton Education Project.

It brings kids from low-income districts to the theater the same way most of the people on the stage got there — through hard work. Like creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the musical after receiving a MacArthur “genius grant” — the kids did research on American history and wrote songs or poetry to bring it to life.

The kids include 55 from Valley High School in New Kensington. They might be close to the Benedum, but with the pricey tickets, the stage might as well be in New York. The Hamilton Education Project showed these kids a cast of important things, such as the importance of art and history, but maybe most critically, that education can overcome circumstances.

Lance: To guilt by association. Melisa O’Toole will not be the Kiski Area girls soccer coach again. She didn’t lose that position because of how her players performed. She didn’t lose it because anyone thinks she did anything wrong.

She lost it because her husband, Ryan O’Toole, is charged with having sex with a student, corruption of minors and harassment. Her husband is awaiting trial and has not been found guilty of anything. He is still considered innocent until proven guilty.

Melisa O’Toole is apparently not given that same courtesy. Despite the fact that law enforcement has found no reason to charge her with anything and there is no suggestion that she was either involved or suspected in her husband’s alleged crimes, her nine years of coaching are over.

It is good that people are taking sexual crimes seriously, and that when kids report things, they are taken seriously. It is good that we are more vigilant. But we can’t let that vigilance become vindictive.