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Mervo high school boosts mental health support for students after school shooting, adds police

When students gradually return to Mervo High School in Baltimore this week, the day will look a little different.
Kristen Mosbrucker
When students gradually return to Mervo High School in Baltimore this week, the day will look a little different.

When students gradually return to Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School, otherwise known as Mervo, they will begin the school day with ‘restorative circles’ where they can discuss any feelings and learn conflict resolution skills. The school is rolling out extra mental health support services after a shooting last week left one of their classmates dead.

Mervo junior and football player Jeremiah Brogden was fatally shot in the parking lot by a student from another school. The suspect, a sophomore attending Achievement Academy at Harbor City High School in Northeast Baltimore, was arrested on Friday after the incident and is being charged with murder.

Over the weekend, local nonprofits such as the YMCA offered emotional support for anyone affected by the shooting and 250 students have been helped so far, school administrators told parents on Tuesday night during a community meeting.

While attendance for students was not required for students on Tuesday, they were encouraged to attend if they needed group or individual mental health services. The situation is far from an ideal start to the new school year which began on August 29.

“I want to eliminate any thought that it's just business as usual,” said Mervo principal Tricia Lawrence. “It's a progressive process to healing and we're offering those opportunities for our staff as well as our Mustangs.”

The high school plans to add more Baltimore City Public School police officers on the campus and is even recruiting volunteers to become ‘community watchers’ who would help patrol outside school grounds.

On Wednesday morning, students will start in a staggered fashion by grade level to enable students time for any community discussions or restorative circles. Regular class schedules are expected to resume on Thursday.

During the community meeting on Tuesday night, some residents and parents were concerned about students returning to school so quickly after such a violent event. Many asked school leaders to not resume classes until next week to allow students more time to process the situation and heal properly.

Instead, school officials asserted that “a part of the healing process includes returning to some sense of normalcy and that really means coming back to school,” said Lawrence.

Zshekinah Collier is WYPR’s 2022-2023 Report for America Corps Member, where she covers Education. @Zshekinahgf
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