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Ian McColgin
05-24-2013, 03:41 PM
IMc - This follows up on a thread from a couple of weeks ago. From:
http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/05/24/florida-science-student-has-charges-dropped-and-gets-surprise-gift-instead/#ixzz2UFDdura3

Florida Science Student Has Charges Dropped And Gets Surprise Gift Instead
by T. Steelman*•*May 24, 2013

Remember the young lady, Kiera Wilmot, who had been the center of a controversy when she lit off a small chemical explosion at her school? The Florida student still has not learned her fate as far as her high school goes, though she was cleared of criminal charges last week. She still has to undergo a “diversion program” (whatever the heck that is) but Polk County State Attorney Jerry Hill released a statement that read, in part:

“Based upon the facts and circumstances of the case, the lack of criminal history of the child involved, and the action taken by the Polk County School Board, the State Attorney’s Office extended an offer of diversion of prosecution to the child. The child and her guardian signed the agreement to successfully complete the Department of Juvenile Justice Diversion Program.

The incident caused an uproar in the social media, resulting in a petition signed by nearly 200,000 people and her name trending on Twitter for a few days (non-Twitterers might not realize it but that is huge). Columns and articles – including here on Addicting Info – came to Kiera’s defense, calling the charges unfair and heavy-handed. Of course, the Florida authorities say that this had nothing to do with the decision to drop all charges. Yeah, right.

Keira was suspended after the incident and is attending classes at an alternative school. The school board will now decide whether she will go back to Bartow HS or be expelled.

But, in the meantime, she has received a wonderful surprise: a scholarship to Space Camp! A former astronaut trainer for NASA, Homer Hickam, saw something of his own history in the incident and he wanted to support Kiera in her exploration of science.

Hickham, an 18-year veteran of NASA, (and author – his autobiography was the source for the film October Sky) trained astronauts for Spacelab and the International Space Station. But when he was a boy, he had a problem similar to Kiera’s. In the late 1950s, Hickham was accused of starting a forest fire and was arrested by state police. Intervention by his physics professor and school principal cleared him of any wrongdoing. Of course back then, common sense was still seen in schools – before the advent of zero tolerance policies and sue-happy parents. A kid could mess up and not have to worry about going to prison.

Keira’s story stirred a kinship and Hickham wanted to encourage her so he decided to do something. He runs a scholarship program for kids with potential and wanted to include Kiera. When he found out that Kiera has a twin sister, Kayla, Hickham arranged for both girls to attend Space Camp. The girls will attend the 5-night program, which immerses students in science, technology and math, in July. They will get hands-on training and a general science credit to boot. As both of them would like to pursue science in college, the program will be a great start.

“I’m really excited about going,” Kiera said. “Especially the zero gravity tank, I’ve always wanted to do that.”

Kiera’s mother, Marie, was devastated when she got that call from authorities back on April 22. The whole thing has been terrifying for her and her daughter. But now she is hopeful that Kiera will be reinstated at her school and is overwhelmed by the response of complete strangers, saying:

“The way people have reached out, I wasn’t expecting this kind of response. It is a blessing.”

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Osborne Russell
05-24-2013, 03:50 PM
Mr. America, walk on by . . .
Your schools that do not teach.
Mr. America, walk on by . . .
The minds that won't be reached.

Mr. America, try to hide . . .
The emptiness that's you inside
When once you find that the way you lied
And all the corny tricks you tried
Will not forestall the rising tide
of hungry freaks, Daddy!

-- Frank Zappa, "Hungry Freaks, Daddy!"


Forget school, drop out. Go to the library and educate yourself, if you've got any guts.

-- Frank Zappa