BRISTOL - One month after the Parkland, Florida school shooting, Bristolâ€™s high schools will be staging a â€śSchool Walk-In,â€ť however students at some area schools will be staging their own walk-outs.
On Feb. 14, a 19-year-old former student opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, killing 17 people and wounding 16 more. It was the latest in a series of mass shootings in schools, and other locations in the United States, in recent years, which included the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting which killed 26 students and educators.
Various groups around the country are planning walkouts to protest government inaction against school shootings on March 14. The Connecticut Education Association is promoting the idea of â€śWalk-Ins for Safe Schoolsâ€ť that day.
Instead of getting into the politics of gun control that day, â€śa group of students have come together to make the day about supporting each other and remembering those lost in all the school shootings,â€ť said Madison Fostervold, a Bristol Eastern High School senior, told the Board of Education. She is a student representative to the board.
â€śSo March 14 at our school is going to be a day in school where the concerns of students are heard while still keeping the safety and integrity of our school intact,â€ť she said.
Superintendent Susan Moreau said she is pleased the two high schools are planning for the â€śwalk-insâ€ť that day.
â€śThere will be a letter going home to parents to explain the program during the time,â€ť she said. â€śItâ€™s at 10 oâ€™clock for 17 minutes. Students will be meeting with their advisors, coming together as a school community, and reminding one another to look for the best in each other, to be a positive influence, to speak and act with kindness - actions that are so imperative in todayâ€™s world.â€ť
â€śOur school principals will be communicating their specific plans with families in the coming week,â€ť Moreau continued. â€śItâ€™s very important that you understand that this plan is in no way a protest either for or against the Second Amendment.â€ť
Julianna Larue, also a BEHS senior, said she is trying to organize a student walk-out at 10 a.m. to the track.
â€śStudents have the option of walking out or doing whatever the school has planned inside, but the school and the principal are not telling us to not walk out,â€ť she said. â€śEveryone can peacefully protest and remember all 17 lives lost.â€ť
The students planning to protest donâ€™t have specific demands,â€ť Larue said. â€śWe just want to show Bristol that the future generation is going to make changes in this world.â€ť
Plainville Superintendent Maureen Brummett said she is anticipating a student walk-out on March 14 for 17 minutes to honor the 17 people killed in Parkland.
It will be student-led, and the kids donâ€™t have to participate if they donâ€™t want to, she said.
Southington Superintendent Tim Connellan said that when some of his students expressed an interest in participating with the walk-out, he was faced with a choice and opted to help facilitate the protest in a safe manner.
â€śWe talked with students and worked with them,â€ť he said. â€śWe realized we could have tried to stop them, which wouldnâ€™t work, or we could ignore it and let the students do what they wanted, which was also a bad choice too.â€ť
So the students who participate will be walking out of the building for 17 minutes, with no speeches, no placards, and no media or visitors allowed, Connellan said. Only students and staff will be able to participate. The Southington Police Department has agreed to be on the site to help make sure everyone involved is safe.
â€śThis will not be a political event,â€ť he said. â€śIt is being done to memorialize those lost in the Parkland shooting. They are going outside for 17 minutes because of the 17 students that were killed.â€ť
In addition to March 14, some school groups nationally are planning marches for school safety in Washington, D.C. and Hartford on Saturday, March 24; and a National High School Walkout on Friday, April 20, which falls during April vacation for some area schools.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.