Markel Tyree “Kel” Scott, of Baltimore, who once dropped out of high school but had returned to get his diploma at Excel Academy, was shot to death on Thursday, March 16, near his former home in the East End, and police say they have no leads at this time, the Baltimore Sun reports. He will be laid to rest in a private ceremony tomorrow, according to his obituary by Vaughn Greene Funeral Services. He was 19 and was already planning to start college or join the Army after he graduated this spring.
The Excel Academy, located within the Francis M Wood High School on West Saratoga Street, is somewhat of a second-chance school by reputation. This year, however, its reputation has become one of kids being killed, as Kel’s death marked the fourth homicide since October to befall its students. “Not another one. Not him,” the Sun quoted health teacher Shelly Higgins as saying to the school’s principal, Tammatha Woodhouse.
Kel often spoke about his struggle to stay in school, an accomplishment his mother, Sharonda Rhodes, had achieved in the city in 1997, even as she was pregnant with Kel at the time. She said she was determined not to be another teenage mother who dropped out of school. She was heartbroken that her son was gunned down just as he was on a straight path to success.
He was reportedly a frequent visitor to the counselor’s office at the academy, just to keep checking that he was on track, and he filled his Facebook page with encouraging words, like #NEVERGIVEUP, about staying on track. He said he was planning to enlist in the Army after graduation, according to one status update, only one year of school having been lost.
He told others that he might have had days when he was slacking off but was determined never to let his life slip away again. “Ma, I can’t let you down. I can’t let my brother and sister down. I’m getting this diploma,” the Sun quoted him as saying to his mother.
A recent school assignment, a “Gratitude Journal,” shows that he missed no opportunity to express himself about the good things in his life since returning to school. A portion of Kel’s paper reflects the positive strides he was making before his life was cut short:
I am appreciative of … being alive, healthy and sane. Most of all I appreciative for being born thankful for life period.
I am so fortunate to have … a home, place to eat and a bed to lay in. I’m fortunate that I wasn’t one of the young victims a part of the death rate in my city.
Thank you for … everything and everyone that keeps me going in life.