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Death of Sunnyside Boy Leads to New Science Module at East Elmhurst School

Rory and Ciaran Staunton

Rory and Ciaran Staunton

Sept. 24, 2015 By Michael Florio

An East Elmhurst school will pilot a first-of-its-kind class unit on infectious disease, inspired by a Sunnyside boy who died of sepsis in 2012.

McClancy Memorial High School will pilot a new science education module designed to teach middle and high school students about infectious diseases, with a special focus on sepsis.

Ann Smith, a biology and environmental science teacher at the school, began designing the module after attending Rory Staunton’s funeral in 2012.

Staunton, a 12-year-old boy, dove and scraped his arm playing basketball at the Garden School. He later died from sepsis, an infection that can cause poor organic function or insufficient blood flow.

A number of McClancy Memorial students knew Staunton through local basketball competitions and growing up in the neighborhood. Smith noticed a number of her students at his funeral.

“After hearing Rory’s story, I realized that students in my classes were emotionally impacted by his death. I wanted to help them understand what happened to Rory,” Smith said.

Smith noticed that the school science curriculum did not include sepsis, even though it is both common and deadly, killing over 250,000 Americans each year.

Last week, students from the school traveled to Washington, D.C., where the module was announced at the Rory Staunton Foundation’s National Forum on sepsis.

Staunton’s parents, Ciaran and Orlaith Staunton, established the Rory Staunton Foundation in his honor to raise awareness of sepsis and improve hospital protocols around the condition.

“Our goal is to implement the new education module in school districts across the country to educate a new generation to understand sepsis, its symptoms, and treatment so that young people no longer die through lack of awareness of the condition,” Orlaith Staunton said.

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