Howard County schools offers guidance to students following mall shooting

COLUMBIA, Md. - The impact of the mall shooting on the community-at-large is still unfolding in and around Columbia.

Howard County Public Schools had counselors on staff Monday to assist those students who needed help.

This included at Atholton High School where students returned to for the first time since the mall shooting.

"The first thing that our first period teachers did was immediately let us know if any of us need counseling or need to talk it out, we can head right down to the guidance office," said Ben Fisher, an Atholton High senior.

Rebecca Amani-Dove of Howard County Public Schools said administrators recognize while Columbia is a large community, it is a small town and the Mall in Columbia serves as its hub.

"We know that a lot of our students, a lot of our staff members were either at the mall or knew people who were at the mall and so we wanted to be prepared for anything that came up today.

While the school system is putting counselors in all of the middle and high schools in Howard County, it's taking a very different approach with the elementary schools trying to walk that thin line between treating and further traumatizing children of that age.

Teachers will look for young students in those classrooms who require help on an individual basis, but it's an effort that extends to the whole community. This was the case with a woman employed by the school system that found herself in lockdown with a terrified child that she didn't know at the mall on Saturday and comforted them with video of a high school holiday concert on her cell phone.

"It's little stories like that just remind us that we are one community and it's being a community that's going to help us get through this," Amani-Dove said.

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