This Wednesday, March 14, marks one month since the horrific events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Students throughout the nation have worked together to plan a nationwide school walkout to voice their concerns about the conditions that allowed this tragedy to happen and as an opportunity to memorialize those who were killed or injured.
I’ve been informed of an event that has been planned by the Arts Academy in the Woods Student Union. They have created an event page https://www.actionnetwork.org/event_campaigns/enough-national-school-walkout and written the following letter to describe their concerns.
On March 14th, students at Arts Academy will be staging a walkout in support of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. We are saddened and scared by recent events and have decided to walk out of class in solidarity with students around the nation. At 10am, we will walk out for seventeen minutes in remembrance of those killed in Parkland and to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods. During those minutes, we will gather in the field behind Arts Academy and students will share their stories. We would love for as many students as possible to participate. Students can also wear orange to show solidarity.
Thank you very much,
The Arts Academy in the Woods Student Union
I’ve discussed this concern with members of our staff. We are in agreement that we feel very strongly that there should be a clear and consistent message from the adults in our community. We encourage and appreciate that our students are actively engaged in their civic lives and we will support their plan to take a stand against violence in schools.
Those participating are encouraged to wear orange – the color used by many who support gun control – and Arts Academy students have organized an opportunity for students to get orange ribbons at school on Wednesday morning. (I would also recommend checking the weather forecast. It looks like it will be chilly on Wednesday.)
No student will face disciplinary action for participating in a peaceful walkout. We are confident that our students will hold themselves to high standards and follow the established code of conduct.
Parents do not need to call their students out or report absences if students leave their classrooms for the scheduled 17 minute walkout.
There is a designated time, manner, and place for the walkout. These designations are not done to curb student voice, but to ensure school safety and maintain the learning environment.
For the safety of the students, campus will be closed during the 17 minute walkout. If you need to sign in/out a student unrelated to the walkout please consider doing it before 10:00 am or after 10:17 am.
We do encourage parents to ask their student(s) if they plan on participating in the March 14th walk-out, and reiterate the expectations for conduct during the student-led walkout.
The right to join with fellow citizens in protest or peaceful assembly is critical to a functioning democracy and at the core of the First Amendment. As participation in this event implies agreement with the organizers, no student or staff member will be obligated to participate in this event. Staff and students who are not comfortable participating in the walkout for any reason, should report to the choir room for the duration of the walkout. Mrs. Vidal has volunteered to stay in her room since she is currently very pregnant and may have a difficult time getting out to the field in a timely manner.
I encourage all of our community member to be respectful and supportive of each other, but I also expect that some of us will be somber and reflective while some of us will be nervous, anxious, confused, or unsure of how to act in that moment. We will do our best to support each other through whatever that day brings.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to let me know.
Michael Mitchell Ed.D.
Arts Academy in the Woods