Weekly roundup: Student author spreads a message of kindness and inclusivity, the latest OC districts to reopen, and more

A Corona del Mar High School student is reminding the world that a little kindness goes a long way.

After losing her sister, Ava, in 2012 to a rare genetic disorder, 17-year-old Grace Murray has spent her days honoring Ava’s memory. From volunteering with organizations like Best Buddies, Special Camp and Special Olympics Southern California, Murray’s passion has been to find a career where she can provide services to those with special needs.

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But when the pandemic forced schools, special camps and other organizations to close, she decided to take her passion to paper.

This summer, Murray self-published “The Same But a Little Different,” a children’s book about a girl with Angelman syndrome who visits a waterpark with her sister.

In a recent interview with the Daily Pilot, Murray said she kept thinking about what she could do from home to honor her sister that could be beneficial for people.

“So, I started to write a book,” she said.

Murray says the intention was to instill a responsibility in children from a young age to include all people, but especially those with special needs. “With my sister, I would see people staring at her or laughing at her because she’d wear diapers and be in a stroller at an older age,” Murray said.

“At the end of the story, there’s tips on how to be kind and inclusive and why it’s important to be sympathetic and nice to everyone,” she said.

Murray estimates about 165 copies of the book have been sold with all the proceeds donated to the Angelman Syndrome Foundation, according to the Daily Pilot.

“Everyone has bad days. Everyone has stuff at home that they don’t want to share, and being kind is so easy to do and it’s a lot of effort to go out of your way to be rude,” Murray said.

“It’s so important to be kind and it really does make someone’s day,” she said.

And here are some of the other education stories we’ve been following this week:

  • The Huntington Beach Union High School District this week began sending students back for in-person instruction. The district’s hybrid plan calls for two days per week of in-person instruction on campus, an amount similar to what districts such as Capistrano Unified and Fullerton Joint Union offer their high school students.
  • The majority of the nation’s 15 largest school districts currently have at least some students back on school campuses for in-person learning. As districts continue to make plans to safely bring students back, USA Today reports that a recent rise in COVID-19 cases may threaten their efforts.
  • Superintendents of the Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Ana, San Diego, Fresno, Oakland and Sacramento unified school districts this week sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, urging him to support a “Common Standard for schools to safely reopen and remain open.”

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