Ray Rice Brings “A Ray of Hope” to Howard County Teens

Ray Rice and Calvin Ball

HOWARD COUNTY, MD. (www.hocowellandwise.org)- The Howard High School Auditorium was full this afternoon for the Ray of Hope anti-bullying event emceed by Keith Mills.   In addition to Ray Rice, panelists included; Reese Butler of Hopeline, Pamela Blackwell, Director of Student Support Services at the Howard County Public School System, Lt. Rowlette, and Office Glen Weir of the Howard County Police Department, and Council Representative Calvin Ball.  The McComas family and first lady, Kate O’Malley were special guests.

Ray Rice began his remarks by saying;  “Today is a very special day in my life. This situation has touched me in my heart.”

Students from every high school in the County listened in rapt attention as Rice reminded them “You are not alone in this world.  You are not alone.”  He encouraged victims of bullying to seek help and encouraged the audience to band together. “There’s a smart way to attack this problem. We all have to attack this together.  We all have a voice in this.  If we do this together, I promise you, we will save lives.”

Chris McComas, mother of Grace McComas, the Glenelg High School student who was victimized by bullying and took her own life this past April, spoke to the teens and parents in the audience; “If this happened to Grace, it can happen to anyone and therein lies the horror.  Because it should happen to no one.”   Twitter feeds of the bullying that Grace endured were read aloud and the audience was visibly shocked and many were moved to tears.  McComas urged the audience to “Show love. Speak up when you see or hear hatred. Practice peace.”

Grace’s father also spoke on behalf of the family about the role that leadership and hope must play in the defeat of bullying.  McComas said; “This forum is a starting point for change.”  He defined leadership.  “ Leadership is when you take responsibility for another person.  We each have to take responsibility whether it is in the classroom, the locker room or the boardroom.  We need to become a community of leaders that inspires”, McComas said.  He concluded his remarks by saying “I hope that- in whatever role you serve- you will become a ray of hope and a touch of grace.”

Parents and teens in the audience took turns expressing frustration with the process currently in place to identify and end bullying.   County Executive Ulman pledged to bring the school system, the police department- including school resource officers, and the State’s Attorney Office together to address the issue and improve the process. Rice reminded the audience that the responsibility to end bullying rests on the entire community and not on just one entity such as the school system or the police department. Rice said the question is; “What are WE going to do stop this?”

Mary Catherine Cochran is a big believer in communications and the critical role that it plays in community building.  (Although she is still adjusting to doing it in 140 characters or less!) When she isn’t busy truncating the message, she works as a Senior Communications Project Manager at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine where, among other things, she manages and writes for the Well & Wise blog.

1 Comment

  1. Karen Sortino

    My son is 11 years old and is being bulled at school, on the bus in the the gym locker room, sometimes he tries to stand up for himself, but there are too many kids that gang up on him, so he just takes it. My daughter is in the same school and if it weren’t for her I would not have known this was going on. Last week I told him about Ray Rice going to this school to try to bring awareness about bullying, and I think he is tring to stand up for himself because I got a call from the counselor getting permission to speak to him and of course I said yes, and explainned what my daughter was hearing about her brother. Thank you Ray Rice my son looks up to you. You are a true hero.

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