For two decades Phelicia Nembhard has volunteered in the Prince George’s County schools serving in various roles, such as the President of the PTA at Lamont Elementary, selling candy at Charles Carol Middle School, or distributing food at Parkdale High School.
Now, Nembhard is organizing a group of community leaders, parents and faith leaders to patrol and monitor schools in New Carrollton because she has no faith in her elected leaders.
Phelica Nembhard and Tammy Rinker, pastor at Trinity Moravian Church in New Carrolton, Md., are working together to protect neighborhood children and schools. (Courtesy Photo)
“I am in five to six schools on most days and it broke my heart to see that we have a shooting like this so close to home,” Nembhard said. “Our Schools have become death zones and every morning I make sure that I tell my children that I love them because I don’t know if they are coming back home.”
From this grandmother in New Carrollton to Maryland’s governor, heart break has turned to rage now that Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County is the latest in a string of violent date lines.
“No parents should ever have to worry about when they send their children off in the morning to school will they come home,” said Governor Larry Hogan during a news conference in St. Mary’s County Tuesday, March 20. Hogan addressed the shooting at Great Mills, where, on Tuesday morning, a student, identified as 17-year-old Austin Wyatt Rollins, shot a 16-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy inside Great Mills High School. Rollins died later in the hospital, after being shot by a police officer who was on duty. One of the victims, Jaelynn Rollins, was in critical condition.
St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron told reporters during a press conference, “On this day we realized our worst nightmare that our greatest asset — our children — were attacked in a bastion of safety and security. One of our schools.”
Rollins allegedly fired a 9-mm semi-automatic gun at the 16 year-old female, he reportedly knew, and 14-year-old boy. The young lady was transported to the University of Maryland’s Prince George’s Hospital Center and the 14-year-old was taken and treated at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital.
Theresa Dudley, President of the Prince Georges County Education Association, said that while an incident like what happened in St. Mary’s County hasn’t happened in Prince George’s, everyday teachers in county schools have to deal with violence.
“This is just another example of how guns kill people,” Dudley said. “Many of our teachers have had to file protective orders because they have been threatened by parents who come up to the schools. Schools should be gun free zones.
While Dudley wants to see more done, she is not in favor of putting guns in the hands of more teachers and school officials even though the officer in St. Mary’s is credited with saving many lives.
This weekend several hundred of thousand are expected to converge in Washington D.C. for a massive march against guns that was inspired by the student victims at a high school in Broward County, Fl., but Hoyer said after the marches and the speeches there needs to be real change.
In New Carrolton, Nembhard is working with leaders such as, Pastor Tammy Rinker, pastor of Trinity Moravian Church, next door to Lamont Elementary.
“As pastors we often say that our thoughts and prayers are with people after these incidents but going forward we need to say our thoughts, prayers and actions,” said Rinker. “This is why we are organizing an after school program at Trinity Moravian to keep kids safe.”
Nembhard said this is time for parents and leaders to do more for their own communities. “We march, we speak, we have walks outs and nothing changes. We have organized a taskforce of parents and community leaders to watch over the schools in New Carrolton and hopefully this can be done in other communities.”