Those who know me, know that although I'm not originally from here, I have a great love for Cincinnati. That said, I can't claim the same feeling for the Enquirer, a mediocre newspaper at best. I was reminded why I have such love for the Cleveland Plain Dealer last week when I grabbed the Sunday paper before heading back to Cincinnati. I had forgotten how much I miss Regina Brett & Dick Feagler's columns, Earthweek, a real travel section and good, in-depth reporting including a front page story of two teenage girls from Western Reserve Academy whose lives were forever changed by the negligence and inattention to safety practices on the part of their chemistry teacher, Mrs. Pratt, who didn't make the students wear protective gear in the first place. This is only one example of the exceptionally poor judgement she showed on this day.
During a chemistry experiment (in which she allowed her 11-year-old son to start the flames) she poured methanol on flaming mineral salts, causing a four foot wide fire that landed both young ladies in the hospital for three to four weeks. But that was just the beginning of their troubles. Between the two of them they endured blisters, unexplained rashes, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction to painkillers, and non-support from some students and faculty who accused the two of trying to ruin the teacher's life by their attempt to have her removed from the classroom. Pratt used the single fire blanket to help only her son, leaving the two girls who were also actually on fire, to fend for themselves. Both students also had to deal with stares and comments when out in public.
Both girls went on to graduate high school, are attending ivy league universities and received a combined settlement of over $18 million. But they will never have what they had before this life-altering event. The biggest injustice: Mrs. Pratt continues to teach chemistry at Western Reserve Academy.