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After initial request denied, Grace McComas can be honored at Glenelg graduation

Grace McComas would have graduated from Glenelg High School May 29.

At the upcoming commencement, friends and classmates want to honor Grace, who was a sophomore in 2012 when she committed suicide after months of cyber-bullying. After initial opposition from the school and school system, it now appears they'll have that chance.

Grace's mother, Christine McComas, took to her daughter's Facebook memorial page March 24 to express sadness after "hearing that Grace's classmates had asked to wear small blue ribbons at graduation but were denied by both the school and the Board of Ed(ucation) ... and were told they'd be pulled out of line if they did."

After a social media firestorm for much of the week, during which hundreds of McComas' supporters criticized the school system, Superintendent Renee Foose said the school system would allow the tribute.

"If wearing the blue ribbon offers the McComas family and students and staff at Glenelg even one moment of peace in their grief, then I will honor that request," she said at Thursday's school board meeting.

Foose said the school system "gets lots of requests from students and families to wear mementos on their graduation attire," but graduation procedures dictate that any items worn on caps and gowns generally "are limited to academic achievements."

However, Foose said, the McComas request "hit me on a very personal level."

Foose said Glenelg has reached out to the McComas family to explore awarding Grace a posthumous diploma and creating a scholarship in Grace's name. School administrators have also approved the wearing of wristbands at graduation in Grace's favorite color — blue — during graduation.

"I do not want our collective desire to honor Grace to be overshadowed by a debate around the method, which distracts from her memory," Foose said.

On Friday, Christine McComas said she didn't know if she would attend Glenelg's graduation.

"I don't want to take away from graduation in any way, shape or form," she said. "Those kids worked hard for that day. I felt really bad for them that they had stuck their necks out and asked for a very minor thing that would be a silent testament to her. They lost someone they had known since pre-school, that they had lived and breathed with for 12 years."

"My child existed and she mattered," McComas said. .

After her death, Grace McComas was the namesake of state legislation approved in 2013. "Grace's Law" makes the use of social media to bully a person under 18 illegal in Maryland, and punishable by a fine and/or jail time.

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