After a school principal’s sudden death, a moving celebration



Former Wootton students sing a lovely rendition of "Danny Boy" in honor of Doran. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Former Wootton students sing a lovely rendition of “Danny Boy” in honor of Doran. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Just a few days after the sudden death of a treasured school principal, a crowd of thousands packed Thomas S. Wootton High School’s football stadium in Rockville, Maryland to celebrate the life of Dr. Michael Doran.

The bleachers were so packed that some people sat or stood on the field.

One after another, administrators, teachers and students took to the podium to talk about a very special man who was found unresponsive in his Bethesda apartment Wednesday morning.

“We all wish we could hear his British accent, or see his smile that spread joy like wildfire, just one more time,” says Langston Thomas, the senior class president.

“What was amazing though was the way that he could be everybody’s number one fan, and do so in ways that were so personal,” says Varsity Soccer Coach Doug Schuessler.

“Dr. Doran stitched us together and made Wootton a safety net to protect us when we felt like we were falling.” says senior Carly Haynes.

There was no shortage of funny stories.

“His ability to walk through the cafeteria here at Wootton and take french fries from children, and eat those said french fries right in front of those children, was an act of genius because he never packed a lunch,” says Edward Owusu, Principal of Shady Grove Middle School and Master
of Ceremony for the evening.

“In would walk Dr. Doran in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts and flip flops. Boldly suggesting we had missed the dress memo for the meeting. He could get away with such actions because of his charm and James Bond-like suavity,” says Walt Whitman High School Principal Alan Goodwin.

Montgomery County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers had high praise for Doran.

“Michael was in my mind everything that a public school principal should be. Committed, caring, and unapologetic in his belief that every student can achieve at high levels,” Bowers says.

Among the musical tributes during the evening was a lovely acapella rendition of “Danny Boy” sung by three Wootton High graduates.

Near the end of the event, Doran’s son Sam led a reading of a blessing that his father would deliver at graduation ceremonies.

“May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door.”

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

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