Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School in East Elmhurst, Queens, has officially become the first school in the country to pilot a new science education module designed to teach middle and high school students about infectious diseases with a special focus on sepsis.

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 and praised by Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, and Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Rory Staunton of Sunnyside, Queens, N.Y., was 12 years old when he died of sepsis after scraping his arm playing basketball at school in 2012. A number of the McClancy Memorial H.S. students knew Rory through local basketball competitions and growing up together in the neighborhood. Rory’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.

Ann Smith, a biology and environmental science teacher at McClancy Memorial H.S., began developing the module after attending Rory’s funeral mass, which had many of her own students in attendance.

“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,” said Smith.

She found that the school science curricula did not include sepsis, even though it is both common and deadly, killing over 250,000 Americans in each year.

The module meets Common Core Standards for Science and Technical Subjects, AP Biology Curriculum Framework, Centers for Disease Control National Health Education Standards, National Standards for Civics and Government, and NextGen Science Standards. The sepsis module has been reviewed and supported by Dr. Martin Dorfler, Senior Vice President of Clinical Strategy and Development, North Shore-LIJ Health System.

“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,” said Rory’s mother, Orlaith Staunton.

About The Rory Staunton Foundation

The Rory Staunton Foundation seeks to ensure that no other young person or adult dies of sepsis because of lack of recognition of the deadly symptoms by the medical community and responsible authorities and to serve as a major information source for the public on signs of sepsis. For more information, visit