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No regulation against honoring deceased students at graduation

Washington County Public Schools spokesman says something 'reverential' will be done at appropriate graduation ceremonies

May 31, 2012

Speculation that schools can’t honor deceased students at graduation ceremonies isn’t true, state and local education officials confirmed this week.

The rumor appears to have started locally with a post on Facebook claiming that the Maryland State Department of Education allows “no special recognition” at graduation of students who have died, other than a moment of silence or a flower arrangement.

There is no such state regulation, Bill Reinhard, a spokesman for the State Department of Education, said Wednesday.

Richard Wright, a spokesman for Washington County Public Schools, said Thursday that he heard the same circulating rumor. There is no ban of that type in Washington County, either, he said.

This year, four high school seniors in Washington County died within about two months after vehicle accidents.

Quinn Hoover, a Clear Spring High School student who attended Washington County Technical High School, died in March.

Mitchell Akers, a Smithsburg High School senior, was killed in April.

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Williamsport High School students Brendon Colliflower and Samantha Kelly died in May.

Wright said principals met to discuss how to honor students who recently died, as well as those who were injured and can’t attend their commencements.

Students’ families were consulted, he said.

Something “reverential” will be done at each graduation ceremony, Wright said.

— Andrew Schotz

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