I’ve been thinking a lot about Nichole Cevario’s parents, what they must have been feeling as they discovered what their daughter had planned for Frederick County’s Catoctin High School — shame and courage and grief and love and fear, heartbreak and so much more.

I’ve been thinking about mental illness, the insurance coverage for it, treatments available, stigma around it, and high school bullying and all of the things that might lead an 18-year-old onto such a destructive path.

I’ve been thinking about the fact that everything she purchased — shotgun, ammunition, fireworks, hardware, explosives, pieces of pipe to construct a bomb — was legal, that the instructions to create her weapon were readily available online.

I’ve been thinking about the police officers, bomb squad, rescue services, firearms department, state’s attorney’s offices who were called upon to quickly sift through limited information and promptly act to protect Nichole, her classmates, her family, our community; how a poor decision could have hurt different people in different ways, but their integrity kept everyone safe.

I’ve been watching our community’s reaction for vilification or judgment or condemnation, fearful of the worst and grateful to not have seen (much of) it.

I’ve been thinking about the students at Catoctin, how scared and vulnerable they must feel to realize that a perceived bubble of safety has been popped, for whom uncommon things have been uncommonly brought to their attention by someone they know, trusted.

I’ve been thinking about the teachers and administrators who once entered this field imagining that they were embarking upon the noble pursuit of educating future generations, instead unknowingly stepping onto a battlefield.

I’ve been thinking about the reactions of the friends and families of these people, aware of the ripples this sends into our community and far beyond it.

Nothing we do or feel or experience is ever without reverberations. This event darkens so many lives. I’ve been sad about all of it, aware that there’s never a simple solution to a complex problem, feeling powerless and small. The platitude, of course, is: “Love your people. Hold them close tonight.” But I think even more important is this: “Love the people who aren’t your people. Love, people. Love them all.

Jessica Feltz


Jessica Feltz is the owner of The Turning Point: Frederick’s Community Acupuncture

(6) comments


Great essay with powerful insight. I hope this young person can get the help she needs. Her family deserves our respect and consideration for taking the appropriate actions. Let's not judge. Like the letter says, love is the answer here.


This was a very sad story, no one was a winner, but thank God the parents stepped up and did what was necessary, most likely it saved lives. The best to all and hopefully this young girl will recover and lead a somewhat normal life.


Incredibly thoughtful essay! I agree with criticism of the headline, love "supassing all understaning" for me is like when a woman goes out of her way to meet someone in jail for life and then marries him. As in, love nobody can ever conceive of.... What this writer suggests is a Christian concept. Love everyone. No exceptions. Maybe this was inconceivable to the headline writer?


Oh, that's interesting. I thought the headline writer was putting a Christian spin on a LTE that had nothing to do with those religions.


The headline doesn't fit the LTE and doesn't even make sense internally. "Love surpasses all understanding" isn't advice but an observation. And the LTE never suggests a lack of understanding anyway.

You went for the cheap cliché, FNP.


It had to be incredibly hard for her father to alert the authorities. My prayers go out to the family. When funding is cut for mental health identification and treatment, society loses. Politicians may convince some people they are saving money, but many people do not realize they will pay for it in another way - for people to be lodged and treated in the legal system and in the jails. It does not just go away - it will cost money somewhere else in the system. Funding for mental health treatment is essential - our lives may quite literally depend upon it.

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