SYRACUSE — A national school walk-out day is planned for Wednesday, March 14, exactly one month after the school shootings Feb. 14 in Parkland, Fla. For 10 minutes across each time zone, the intent is to remember the victims of the Florida shootings and to demand stronger government actions against gun violence, as well as tougher gun control laws.
It will be the first of three planned days, also including a march on Washington, D.C., Saturday, March 24, and another school walk-out day April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.
School districts across the country have taken different approaches to the walk-out days. Some have taken a tougher stance and promised to suspend students who walk out, but others are taking a softer approach.
At Wawasee High School, principal Kim Nguyen said he was approached by some students about the walk-out, but instead a walk-in is being planned for Friday, March 23, where those students will meet with others in the spectator gymnasium for 15-20 minutes during their Warrior Time shortly after 10 a.m. They will do so in remembrance of those who have lost their lives in school shootings.
Dr. Tom Edington, Wawasee Community School Corporation superintendent, said nothing else has been planned at other Wawasee schools in conjunction with the walk-out days, though Wawasee Middle School did receive one phone call from someone asking about it.
He said “teachers need to teach and students need to learn” rather than creating a disruptive situation by walking out of a school building. “We are responsible for the students (during the school day), their conduct and their education,” he noted.
Edington added it is important to maintain a controlled educational environment but it is also important students can feel they are able to express their opinions. “Outside of the school day, there are other options for doing so,” he added.
He said it is fortunate students approached Nguyen first, rather than doing something on their own. “It is nice we are in a situation where things can be worked out,” he said, noting administrators want to work with students first.
In the event some students still decide to walk out rather than choosing the option provided, “administrators will take care of it,” he said, and do what is reasonable, given the situation.