I was 15 when it began.  A year that changed so much.  A time when I began to find out who I was and broke out of the mold I set for myself.

A time for BHTL…

A time for friends…


A time to be happy…

A time to win…


A time to be young…

A time to pretend…


A time to panic…

A time to appreciate…


A time to look away…

A time for heroes…


A time to pray…


A time for dreams…

A time for love…


A time to look to the future…


A time to run…


It was 1986.  I was a high school sophomore and junior during this year.  We lost a teacher before she ever entered space.  We joined Hands Across America.  The Police got back together for the Amnesty International concert.  The beginnings of Glasnost led to the end of the Cold War as fallout fell around Chernobyl.  Ferris took a Day Off while Molly got Pretty In Pink.  We wasted our time watching Geraldo find a bottle of moonshine but we were obsessed with Max Headroom.  Bill Buckner let a ball slide between his legs while we watched a Refrigerator do a Shuffle.  For myself, it was a reawakening that changed my life forever, where the bizarre met the future.  Howard and Phil told us No One Is To Blame.  I was a short-lived Drammie.  A lady rose in stature once more.  The term “going postal” was born in Oklahoma but we lost a couple good ones at my school.  Lindsay Lohan entered the world while there was some affair going on between Iran and Contra.  I worked at a comic store and helped out with a magazine about comic books as well as the local pharmacy.  I spent a lot of time that summer in Ridgefield where I left my heart for a while.  I played football in Vermont one weekend and was an Antassawomack Beach Bum another.

To truly get this article, you had to be alive at the time, and probably into some of the same stuff I was at the time.  Alternative music, comics, Yankees, and movies!  The Cold War was still going on but we could see the beginnings of a warm-up.  I walked out of my own shadow and became… something!  It was a chrysalis but I didn’t find out what came out of the cocoon until many years later.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  It was 1986…




Public Information Officer For Howard High School Of Technology Clears The Air On Board Meeting & Town Halls

Amy, Howard High School of Technology

I updated my last post yesterday with information from the New Castle County Vo-Tech District concerning the change of time and venue for their board meeting this month.  During my communication with the district, I asked them if they just wanted me to make the change or post their information verbatim.  I didn’t hear back from them until late last night but I already made the change earlier.  This was their communication to me:

From: Demarest Kathy <kathy.demarest@nccvt.k12.de.us>
To: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
Sent: Sunday, April 24, 2016 3:49 PM
Subject: Regarding your post to Exceptional Delaware

Hi, Kevin-

I am writing this email to you instead of using your blog as a forum.

On behalf of the NCC Vo-Tech school district, it is disappointing that you presumed that we decided to change the school board meeting time and location in order to prevent access to the public.  Nothing could be further from the truth.
As you can imagine, or perhaps you cannot, the first two days were spent doing everything that could be done to support Amy’s family, to provide supports for our Howard students and staff, and to communicate with students, parents, and the greater community the details as we knew them,  while this horrible tragedy was evolving.

We scheduled a Saturday morning conference call so we could schedule and plan Howard parent meetings as soon as possible. We knew we already had a regular monthly Board of Education meeting scheduled for Monday evening, and were already considering changing it so that Monday could be a parent meeting option.

We were informed late Friday by an elected city official that a Town Hall meeting for Howard parents and community had been scheduled for Monday night at Stubbs Elementary School. As we were unaware of that plan, and in order to accommodate that meeting, our Board of Education determined to move up their meeting Monday from 7 p.m. to 4 p.m., and to hold it at District Office.

We have scheduled to hold the Howard parent meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, both meetings beginning at 7 p.m., and both in the Howard auditorium.  We had to schedule two meetings in order to accommodate as many parents who may wish to attend. Howard has a student body of over 900.
The Tuesday meeting is for parents of 10th and 11th grade students; Wednesday is for parents of students in grades 9 and 12.

It was certainly disheartening to see your post, when all are trying to make the best decisions possible during this unspeakable and evolving personal crisis for the Joyner-Francis family, and a school-wide crisis for the Howard community.  Perhaps you should have asked before you presumed the worst.

Please keep Amy’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.  This will be a most difficult week for all. 

Kathy K. Demarest
Public Information Officer
NCC Vo-Tech School District

I responded with the following:

From: Kevin Ohlandt
Reply-To: Kevin Ohlandt
Date: Sunday, April 24, 2016 at 6:47 PM
To: Demarest Kathy
Subject: Re: Regarding your post to Exceptional Delaware


I do appreciate you reaching out to me. I apologize about not reaching out. I used to reach out, many times, and I am usually ignored. So I stopped doing so a while ago. I get information from a lot of people, and while you were disheartened with my article, that was the impression many folks had prior to my writing it. As well, many people, including staff in the district, were extremely upset that Dr. Gehrt referred to Howard as a safe school when an innocent girl was killed there. There was a whole other part to that article you didn’t address. I understand this is a very tough situation, but parents and community members are counting on all of you to change the environment there. The bottom line is Howard is not safe. It hasn’t been, and I know many of our schools aren’t either. Sadly, we learned what happens when things are sugar-coated and we hyper obsess over student outcomes.

I write what I do, not to be heartless, but to draw attention to what is really going on out there. I know that underneath the shiny veneer so many of our schools coat themselves with, that there are children suffering. I also know a lot of that suffering is due to events from outside our schools, but a lot of it does take place in schools. Let me be the first to tell you: I hate writing so much about our schools and DOE in Delaware. I truly do. There is no benefit to myself, and it takes a huge amount of time.

I will happily change the article with the information you provided to me. I can do so verbatim or just paraphrase. I will leave that up to you.

I know this is a horrifying time for the district, but as a parent myself, I would want to attend this board meeting if I were a Howard parent. Town Halls in this situation are absolutely necessary, but board meetings are too. I know many people don’t take advantage of them, but that is where things happen with our districts. I do apologize the way I wrote the article, and like I said, I am more than happy to change it.

Thank you,

Kevin Ohlandt

I received the following response late last night:

From: Demarest Kathy
To: Kevin Ohlandt
Sent: Sunday, April 24, 2016 10:27 PM
Subject: Re: Regarding your post to Exceptional Delaware

Hi Kevin,

Thank you for your apology and for the offer to post. I’d prefer you post my email in its entirety.