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Mom with cancer sees twin daughters graduate in special ceremony before her death

When twin sisters Morgan and Regan McVey graduate Thursday from Talawanda High School in Oxford, Ohio, it will actually be their second commencement ceremony.

Earlier this year, the school provided a special moment for the seniors and their mother, who was diagnosed with cancer last fall.

As the school year moved into its second semester, it was evident their mother, Carey McVey, would not live to see the graduation ceremony.

>> WATCH: Texas teen walks for first time in months, stuns prom date in heartwarming viral video

“Mr. (Tom) York and others arranged to give us a mini graduation ceremony,” Regan said of the school’s principal. “We had our caps and gowns and got our actual diplomas. Mom got to see them.”

“That was one thing she wanted to see,” Morgan added.

Their mother died in February. She was 43 years old, according to her obituary.

The diplomas were on a table at their home until last week when they were returned to the school so the seniors could receive them again at Thursday’s ceremony.

>> Read more trending news 

The gesture, the twins said, reinforced their decision to attend the Oxford school.

The McVey twins were unknown to their classmates when they started at Talawanda High School four years ago after finishing the eighth grade at Queen of Peace School.

“We had to make new friends here. We did not know anyone,” Morgan McVey said.

The high school choice took some discussion between the sisters.

“Regan wanted to go to Talawanda. I wanted to go to Badin,” Morgan said.

Now, they both said they are happy with their decision.

“The school really supported us through it all,” Morgan said, referring to her mother’s cancer diagnosis and her death.

>> On Journal-News.com: Oxford community advocate ‘lived life to the fullest’

While the family tragedy will forever be linked to their senior year of high school, they said they did not let it affect their personalities or interactions with others, although classmates were often surprised by that.

“We are always happy. We joke around a lot. We talk a lot. People forget. Then they say, ‘Your mother… .’ It’s definitely been an experience,” Regan said.

Both young women have been cheerleaders all four years of high school and both have been involved in dance all four years, with Regan on homecoming court her junior year and prom court this spring.

Both, also found satisfaction in passing on their own love of dance by teaching it to younger children at area dance studios.

The fact they are twins earned them a memorable experience outside of school, too.

As their senior year dawned, they appeared in a television commercial promoting the Big Ten conference. The theme of the promo was twins and they auditioned last spring in Chicago, which led to a two-day video shoot, also in Chicago.

>> On Journal-News.com: New gateways to welcome Miami U., Oxford visitors

The commercial appeared on the Big Ten Network and ESPN as well as other television channels. For Morgan, it was a strange feeling the first time she saw it aired.

“I did not know it was out. I was in bed with my television on and saw my face. It just popped up,” she said.

They said they are thinking about using it as a stepping stone to doing some modeling, but they know that profession is a difficult one to get into and then only lasts a certain time. They are planning a careful route of going to college to train for teaching professions and then see what happens.

Regan McVey is looking at early childhood education while Morgan is opting for a degree in integrated language arts for grades 7-12. They plan to attend Miami University Hamilton in the fall to start their college careers.

>> On Journal-News.com: Hall of Famer Huismann approved as Talawanda’s head girls hoop coach

Morgan said no one in their family teaches, but she hopes to emulate some of the good teachers she has had at Talawanda.

Regan opts for younger students after her work with young dancers.

“I like little kids. I think it’s interesting to teach them when they are young,” she said.

The sisters are among 21 members of the graduating class recognized with the President’s Award for Educational Achievement.

The twins agree high school at Talawanda has been a great experience. Their mother and their father, Shane, were both Talawanda High School graduates.

Philip Roth dead at 85: Writers, public figures remember Pulitzer Prize-winning author

Philip Roth – the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "American Pastoral" and other highly acclaimed works such as "Portnoy's Complaint," "The Human Stain" and "The Plot Against America" – has died of congestive heart failure, The Associated Press reported late Tuesday. He was 85.

>> PHOTOS: Notable deaths 2018

Fellow writers and public figures took to Twitter to share their condolences and reflect on Roth's novels. Here's what they had to say:

>> Read more trending news 

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photos: Notable deaths 2018

In the addiction battle, is forced rehab the solution?

QUINCY, Mass. (AP) - The last thing Lizabeth Loud, a month from giving birth, wanted was to be forced into treatment for her heroin and prescription painkiller addiction.

But her mother saw no other choice, and sought a judge's order to have her committed against her will. Three years later, Loud said her month in state prison, where Massachusetts sent civilly committed women until recent reforms, was the wake-up call she needed.

"I was really miserable when I was there," the 32-year-old Boston-area resident said. "That was one bottom I wasn't willing to revisit again."

An Associated Press check of data in some key states has found that the use of involuntary commitment for drug addiction is rising. And in many places, lawmakers are trying to create or strengthen laws allowing authorities to force people into treatment.

But critics, including many doctors, law enforcement officials and civil rights advocates, caution that success stories like Loud's are an exception. Research suggests involuntary commitment largely doesn't work and could raise the danger of overdose for those who relapse after treatment.

And expanding civil commitment laws, critics argue, could also violate due process rights, overwhelm emergency rooms and confine people in prisonlike environments, where treatment sometimes amounts to little more than forced detox without medications to help mitigate withdrawal symptoms.

At least 35 states currently have provisions that allow families or medical professionals to petition a judge, who can then order an individual into treatment if they deem the person a threat to themselves or others. But the laws haven't always been frequently used.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a law last year allowing police officers to civilly commit a person into treatment for up to three days. In Washington state, legislation that took effect April 1 grants mental health professionals similar short-term emergency powers. In both states, a judge's order would still be required to extend the treatment.

Related bills have also been proposed this year in states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts, where involuntary commitment has emerged as one of the more controversial parts of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker's wide-ranging bill dealing with the opioid crisis.

Massachusetts already allows for judges to order people to undergo up to three months of involuntary treatment, but lawmakers are considering giving some medical professionals emergency authority to commit people for up to three days without a judge's order.

The proposal is a critical stopgap for weekends and nights, when courts are closed, said Patrick Cronin, a director at the Northeast Addictions Treatment Center in Quincy, who credits his sobriety to his parents' decision to have him involuntarily committed for heroin use almost 15 years ago.

But giving doctors the ability to hold people in need of treatment against their will, as Massachusetts lawmakers propose, will burden emergency rooms, which already detain people with psychiatric problems until they can be taken to a mental health center, said Dr. Melisa Lai-Becker, president of the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians, an advocacy group.

"We've got a crowded plane, and you're asking the pilots to fly for days waiting for an open landing strip while also making sure they're taking care of the passengers and forcibly restraining the rowdy ones," Lai-Becker said.

Baker's administration stressed the proposal wouldn't take effect until 2020, providing time to work out concerns.

Even without the state legislative efforts, use of involuntary commitment for drug addiction is rising, according to information the AP obtained from states that have historically used it the most.

Florida reported more than 10,000 requests for commitment in both 2016 and 2015, up from more than 4,000 in 2000, according to court records.

Massachusetts reported more than 6,000 forced commitments for drug addiction in both fiscal years 2016 and 2017, up from fewer than 3,000 in fiscal year 2006.

In Kentucky, judges issued more than 200 orders of involuntary commitment for alcohol or drug abuse in the last calendar year, up from just five in 2004, according to court records. The state has so far reported nearly 100 such commitments this year.

But researchers caution there hasn't been enough study on whether forced treatment is actually working. And many states don't track whether people are being civilly committed multiple times, let alone whether they get sober for good, the AP found.

In Massachusetts, where fatal overdoses dropped for the first time in seven years in 2017, state public health officials don't credit increased use of civil commitment, but rather better training for medical professionals, tighter regulations on painkillers, more treatment beds, wider distribution of the overdose reversal drug naloxone, and other initiatives.

A review published in the International Journal of Drug Policy in 2016 found "little evidence" forced treatment was effective in promoting sobriety or reducing criminal recidivism.

Another 2016 study by Massachusetts' Department of Public Health found the involuntarily committed were more than twice as likely to die of an opioid-related overdose than those who went voluntarily, but those findings shouldn't be viewed as an indictment of the process, argues Health and Human Services office spokeswoman Elissa Snook.

"Patients who are committed for treatment are among the sickest, most complex and at the greatest risk for an overdose," she said. "Involuntary commitment is an emergency intervention, to help individuals stay alive until they are capable of entering treatment voluntarily."

Most states send the civilly committed to treatment facilities run or contracted by public health agencies. The costs generally fall on patients, their families or insurance providers.

Massachusetts stands out because, until recently, it sent those civilly committed for drug addiction to prisons. That decadeslong practice ended for women in 2016, but many men are still sent to the Massachusetts Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center, which is housed in a minimum-security prison in Plymouth, near Cape Cod.

Patients wear corrections-issued uniforms and submit to prison regulations like room searches and solitary confinement. They also aren't given methadone or buprenorphine to help wean off heroin or other opioids, as they might in other treatment centers.

Michelle Wiley, whose 29-year-old son David McKinley killed himself there in September after he asked her to have him civilly committed for the third time, said she isn't opposed to expanded use of the practice as long as those with addiction aren't sent to places like Plymouth.

In the days before he hanged himself in his room, Wiley said, her son had complained to her about dirty conditions, poor food and not enough substance abuse counselors while he went through withdrawal.

"You think it's going to be helpful until you hear what it's like," she said. "If I had to do it over, I wouldn't send him to that place."

The corrections department has since taken steps to improve conditions, including more frequent patrols by prison guards and extended hours for mental health professionals, department spokesman Jason Dobson said.

As for Loud, the Massachusetts woman civilly committed while pregnant, she said she has found peace.

After briefly relapsing following her son's birth, she has been sober for about a year and a half. She focuses her energies on raising her son, attending regular support meetings and pursuing a passion sidelined by her addiction: competitive Muay Thai fighting. Her fourth bout is in July.

Loud has also reconciled with her mother. The two now live together, along with her son.

"It took me a long time to understand what she was going through," Loud said. "She was just trying to save her daughter."

___

Follow Philip Marcelo at twitter.com/philmarcelo. His work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/philip_marcelo

Dean, 1st-grade teacher suspended after principal finds them in dark classroom closet

A Groveland Elementary School teacher and a dean were suspended without pay after they were found in a classroom closet and admitted to fooling around.

After they were confronted, the pair said they developed a close friendship at Groveland Elementary School and admitted they took it too far.

The Lake County School District investigated Groveland Elementary School's instructional dean, Alan Rosier, 56, and first-grade teacher Katie Lassen, 34.

It came after the school principal reported she found them in a dark classroom closet.

The two admitted to kissing each other. Rosier said they became "too close, kissing, hugging."

Read: Rescuers use rope to pull woman from submerged car in water in Lake County

He said they were first in the main classroom.

"When we began to kiss, we went in the closet," Rosier said, according to a report.

The school principal said she saw "Rosier's shirt tucked out and shoes untied."

Another school worker said he often saw Rosier visit Lassen's classroom at about 4 p.m. daily.

"Don't they know better? That's horrible," Groveland resident Eunice O'Farrel said.

The school district has recommended firing both teachers. Both have appealed that decision.

O'Farrel said because no students were involved she thinks a suspension and more training would be a more fair punishment than firing them.

"That's taking a big step, (because) you're really talking about somebody's profession, and it could ruin it for life," she said.

Others in the community hope the school district's recommendation keeps them both out of the classroom for good.

"I think they ought to be fired if they got caught doing that in school," Groveland resident Jack Mason said. "I do not think they ought to be there."

Channel 9 reached out to both employees but hasn't heard back. The hearing for their appeal could take place next month.

Police find alleged wrong-way semitrailer driver naked

A man is in custody after police received reports of a semitrailer driving the wrong way down a street in Tulsa, Oklahoma and crashing into a vehicle.

>> Read more trending news

Police said they believe the semitrailer was traveling the wrong way on Skelly Drive on Tuesday evening.

They said the driver reportedly did not stop at red lights and crashed into a vehicle near 51st Street and Harvard Avenue. No one was injured, police said.

They believe the driver then headed to 81st Street and Riverside Parkway and walked away from the vehicle.

Police have not publicly identified the driver, but they found him naked in the area around 8 p.m.

He reportedly ran from the scene after police found him, but officers soon brought him back into custody.Police believe he was using PCP. Officers said they were taking the suspect to an area hospital and then to jail.

He will face charges related to driving the wrong way and fleeing the scene of a crash.

Winning numbers drawn in 'Lucky Money' game

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ The winning numbers in Tuesday evening's drawing of the Florida Lottery's "Lucky Money" game were:

02-07-31-42, Lucky Ball: 15

(two, seven, thirty-one, forty-two; Lucky Ball: fifteen)

Winning numbers drawn in 'Fantasy 5' game

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ The winning numbers in Tuesday evening's drawing of the Florida Lottery's "Fantasy 5" game were:

09-22-26-27-32

(nine, twenty-two, twenty-six, twenty-seven, thirty-two)

2 men shot at Marion County home

Best places to get married in Orlando

In addition to the magic of Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, there is romance in the air in Orlando. For those looking to tie the knot, learn the best places to get married in Orlando. The Balcony Orlando Larger wedding parties will find a home for their special day at Orlando's The Balcony venue. The venue, which can accommodate more than 300 guests, is unique in that it is a rooftop venue. Enjoy views of Orlando's Lake Eola, Orange Avenue and more from high above. Features of The Balcony include a bridal suite and more than 13,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space to imagine your wedding. Citrus Club Dubbed as a premiere downtown wedding club, Citrus Club has been helping couples say "I do" since 1971. Features of this venue include several ballrooms, floor-to-ceiling views of Orlando and the option to work with a private event director to curate the wedding of your dreams. The Villas of Grand Cypress Brides seeking a sleek outdoor venue for their wedding need look no further than The Villas of Grand Cypress. The highlight of the is its 1,500 acres available for hosting the ultimate wedding. Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort Those with a generous budget can host a luxurious wedding at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney. The Four Seasons has space to accommodate weddings of more than 300 guests. Features of the Four Seasons include the option to curate a lakeside wedding near the water or a lavish indoor reception fit for a queen. Lake Nona Golf & Country Club For those wanting their wedding day to conjure up thoughts of serenity, Lake Nona Golf & Country Club is a venue of choice. This country club, with Lake Nona as a scenic backdrop, has on-site lodge accommodations for wedding guests as well as an 18-hole championship golf course for added entertainment. Discovery Cove Planning a smaller, more intimate wedding? Add Discovery Cove to your venue list. This venue, set upon Sunrise Beach and near nature trails, is a good fit for those with fewer than 30 guests. Features include personalized photo sessions, complimentary lunch and breakfast, as well as unlimited snacks and beverages throughout the day and the option to add an excursion package. Imperial Design Banquet Hall One of the more inexpensive venues of the bunch, Imperial Design Banquet Hall makes a great choice for those wanting a smaller-sized wedding as well. The banquet hall has a total capacity of 250 people, and features pristine hardwood floors, a bridal suite, wireless internet and the option to have fabric draped from the ceiling as an extra embellishment.

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