Local students will participate in Walk Out on Wednesday; Mayor Durkan will host Town Hall at Sealth on Thursday
The shooting in Parkland Florida has led to a broad national discussion of gun control but this time, it's being led by young people. That's a key difference and is affecting not only the potential legislation but the attitudes of parents of school age students. Local students at Sealth High School will take part in a 17 minute walk out on Wednesday, part of a national event called ENOUGH: National School Walkout, remaining silent for one minute for each student who died. They are calling on elected officials to pass a ban on assault weapons, prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines and close background check loopholes. Officers from the BSU, GSA, MeChLa and Key Club united to organize the walkout.
In a memo sent to teachers and staff at Sealth it was advised that "students who choose to participate in this national walkout will report to second period and leave by 9:50 to walk to the football field. Students will lock arms in unity and observe 17 minutes of silence. Students will return to second period following a student leader speech about the moment.
Student leaders will distribute orange ribbons to be worn in support of the #neveragain movement and students are requested to wear black."
Ten days later, on March 24, many of these same students will take part in March For Our Lives a national effort to call attention and demand action on school shootings.
Schools in our area listed as taking part:
- Salmon Bay School K-8
- Ballard High School
- Greenwood School
- Chief Sealth International High School
- South Seattle College
- Evergreen High School
- Denny International Middle School
- Sylvester Middle School
Madison Middle School or West Seattle High School, Evergreen High had not announced any plans to take part in the protest.
Staff won't take part- Mayor Durkan holding Town Hall on topic Thursday
In a letter to staff, Sealth Principal noted that staff are not permitted to participate in the walk out but urged them to take part in a Town Hall with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan being held Thursday evening starting at 6:30pm.
"Whereas I share the sentiment of the walk-out, it is my duty to remind you all that as SPS employees, we cannot walk out, nor are we to help students develop a plan to walkout. Any event of this kind must be student-initiated, student-planned and student-implemented. As students, they can make a personal choice to walk-out. However, as employees, we do not have a choice. We have to continue the focus on instruction during class time.
With that said, know that the administration acknowledges the students’ rights to express their opinions. The students organizing the event have approached me with their plans and we have agreed on the timeline and process. We will support them fully as they empower themselves by coming together around a subject they care deeply about. We will also ensure their safety while they do so. Along with our security staff, we plan to be out at the field to ensure the safety of the students. If you have a planning period during 2nd and would like to help, please let me know. The police will also be there so they can provide a visible presence and direct traffic as needed.
It is very important to have conversation and action around school safety. I encourage you all to attend the Town Hall conversation on Thursday right here at CSIHS with Mayor Durkin. This event is moderated by news personalities form KING 5 and KUOW. It starts at 6:30. Encourage your students to show up and voice their opinions and ideas directly to the mayor."
Aïda Fraser-Hammer, Principal
Chief Sealth International High School
Highline Public Schools says security policies are in place
Speaking for Highline Public Schools Catherine Carbone Rogers said, "This is organized by students -- it is not a school or district-sponsored activity. If students do not return to class, they will receive an unexcused absence unless excused by a parent/guardian.
Our security staff and school staff will continue to do lockdown drills, as we always have, to prepare for an emergency. We currently have a campus security officer, a school security officer who is armed, and an School Resource Officer, who is an armed commissioned police officer on each of our comprehensive high school campuses. We have emergency plans for all schools. We are holding a series of safety meetings across the district to share our emergency procedures with parents and hear their concerns."
I am proud of our young students and they are in my thoughts!
I hope West Seattle High is involved in this.