A number of students attend the funeral of guidance counselor

EDUCATION NOTEBOOK

Education Beat

October 23, 2005|By HANAH CHO

Many Long Reach High School students attended last week's funeral of guidance counselor Steve Morris, who died of a heart attack Oct. 14 while at school.

Senior Kraig Peel said he couldn't stay away.

"He was the nicest person in the world," said Peel, 17, who met Morris through an SAT-prep course the guidance counselor organized. "He was always smiling."

Students had unsuccessfully petitioned Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin to close Long Reach on Thursday so that students, teachers and staff could attend the funeral.

Senior Bradley Hirsch, 17, said he and his friends collected 1,000 signatures from students and teachers and met with Cousin after school Wednesday.

"We argued that keeping school open could affect some students and teachers coping [with the death] in a negative way," said Hirsch, who was disappointed by Cousin's decision. "And that it was probably a waste of money to pay for subs and that most students and faculty would be at the funeral."

After consulting with Long Reach Principal Edmund Evans and secondary schools administrator David Bruzga, Cousin decided that "it was in the best interest of everyone, students and community, to keep the school opened," said spokeswoman Patti Caplan.

Students were allowed to attend the funeral as long they had parental permission, Caplan said. Central office administrators also sent extra staff from around the county to cover Long Reach, she said.

Hirsch went to school Thursday for three periods before he left for Morris' funeral.

"He had an impact on everyone at the school," he said.

Family, friends, colleagues and students packed the standing-room-only funeral. Morris, 48, who was married with four children, was remembered as a spiritual man, an excellent educator and a loving father and husband.

Ann Hogg -- a social studies instructional leader at Hammond High School who interviewed Morris for his first job -- told the audience of her first impression of him.

"I could see an energetic, well-prepared and highly motivated young man," said Hogg, who recalled that Morris got lost and was late to his interview.

Morris began his career in 1978 at Hammond, where he taught history and psychology for 19 years. In 1997, he became a guidance counselor at Long Reach High School.

Several colleagues -- including administrator Roger Plunkett, Evans and Bruzga -- served as pallbearers.

Redistricting plan

Superintendent Cousin is scheduled Thursday to present his redistricting proposal for elementary schools in the 2006-2007 school year.

The redistricting plan would fill a new elementary school in Dayton and relieve crowding at neighboring schools in the west.

Last month, the school system's school planning office, with the input of a citizens advisory committee, presented a plan that would draw pupils from two elementary schools -- Triadelphia Ridge and Clarksville -- to fill the new school.

Pupils at Manor Woods, West Friendship, Clarksville, Pointers Run and Fulton elementaries also would be affected by the school staff's proposal.

In addition to adjusting elementary boundary lines, the school system is also looking to make moderate changes at the middle school level -- particularly to relieve crowding at Patapsco Middle and fill open seats at Burleigh Manor.

The school board is set to hold several work sessions and a public hearing before it makes its decision Nov. 22.

Special shout-out

Howard County students got a special shout-out from state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, who was in the county last week to applaud Hurricane Katrina relief efforts of students statewide.

Of the $1.32 million students across Maryland raised for families and children displaced by the natural disaster, Howard pupils collected $191,965.26, the second-highest amount in the state after Montgomery County's $257,457.20.

"You've done a lot in Howard County," Grasmick said at a news conference at Bollman Bridge Elementary School in Jessup, where students and staff raised $2,208.

After the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast, Grasmick and the state education department created Maryland Kids Care campaign, in which students were asked to collect pennies and other loose change for displaced families.

The money raised from the campaign was the state public school system's largest charitable fundraising event.

hanah.cho@baltsun.com

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