It shouldn’t have happened

Fifteen year old Grace McComas committed suicide in 2012. Her story is one of how the Howard County community failed this child and family.  First and foremost, it was a flagrant example of an institution that’s intended to serve the people, putting the administration first rather than the interests of this child and family.  But we all played a role. And we have an opportunity to make it right.

Julia McCready, our guest blogger, is a Howard County Educator with a knowledge and wisdom about Grace’s story.  She posts daily at http://villagegreentownsquared.blogspot.com/

Sharing the Story

by Julia McCready (Friday, July 7, 2017)

In the Spring of 2012 the Glenelg High School community was rocked by the suicide of a sophomore named Grace McComas. She took her life in response to a drug-assisted rape by a fellow student and the subsequent cyber-bullying from members of that same community when she spoke out and sought justice.

In a school of approximately 1200 students, how many do you suppose knew what was going on?

How many knew because they were participating in the bullying?

How many knew and tried to help?

How many knew and did nothing?

How many knew nothing at all?

In the time since her daughter’s death Christine McComas has fought to raise awareness of sexual assault, cyber-bullying, and has worked unceasingly to get her daughters complete school records from the year that she died. The response to her efforts has often been disappointing.

How have we responded?

How many participated in a concerted effort to withhold information?

How many sought to learn more and to help?

How many saw and looked away?

How many have never heard of Grace at all?

The McComas family has established a fund which is to be the basis of a schorlarship in Grace’s name. The scholarship will be awarded each year to a student who exemplifies the qualities of G.R.A.C.E. — Give Respect and Compassion to Everyone. It is a seed sown in faith that we should grow more than academic excellence in our children, something far more precious: love, respect, and courage to stand against bullying and harassment.

The seed money for this scholarship came in the form of a lump sum donation from outgoing Chair of SECAC Barb Krupiarz. But more is needed for the scholarship fund to be viable. That is where you and I come in.

Here is the Go Fund Me campaign page for the Grace McComas Scholarship. Please click on the link, read the story, and give as generously as you are able. We, as a community, can choose to look at this heartbreaking story and refuse to look away, refuse to do nothing. We can reach out a hand to help and to heal. We can share this story with someone who may not yet know.

In so doing we will honor Grace.

If you have a blog, share this request. If you have a wide social media audience, share with them. If you have a church group or a neighborhood group or a community association who could help, ask them. It does not matter how large the amount, more important is how far Grace’s story is spread so that each individual who hears feels convicted to help and not to look away.

That’s how bullying ends, when each individual feels convicted to help and not to look away.

Participating in the funding of this scholarship can be a sign from our community that we are upstanders and not bystanders. We can be the hands that help.

Grace McComas Memorial Scholarship:

https://www.gofundme.com/gracemccomas

Barb Krupiarz and Christine McComas speak at BOE about the scholarship:

About Grace’s Law:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/ellicott-city/ph-ho-graces-law-passes-20130410-story.html

 

 

Current Status of Charter Schools in Maryland

Public Charter Schools have the potential to improve our education of elementary and secondary school students. I’ve learned this from my work the last eight years facilitating more effective financial management of these schools. It is disappointing, therefore, that Maryland/Howard County has made so little commitment to Public Charter Schools.  It is equally troubling that there is not better understanding of  what charter schools are. 

I have found that the agencies operating Charter Schools, like the nonprofit world in general, range from ineffective but well-intentioned, to cutting edge and well-managed. The former schools need to be closed by the authorizer. The latter need to be replicated for the good of all our kids. But there are real obstacles to charter schools achieving their potential in Maryland. Here’s a primer on what Charter Schools are all about.

Continue reading Current Status of Charter Schools in Maryland