Thousands of Butler County students are expected to participate in events today as part of Wednesday’s National Walk Out efforts to commemorate the deaths of 17 students who died from gunfire at a Parkland, Fla. high school.
Scheduled for 10 a.m. at schools across America, the events vary widely locally depending on school districts and individual schools with almost all lasting less than a half hour. Some involve short ceremonies inside of schools while others include students stepping outside.
At Fairfield High School, students will have the option of going to the school gym for a short ceremony – including a minute of silence – while 17 pairs of sneakers will be positioned on the basketball court as symbols of the slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students.
It will last for 17 minutes, said Fairfield district spokeswoman Gina Gentry-Fletcher.
“We are trying to avoid as much disruption as possible for the students,” said Gentry-Fletcher.
At Middletown High School, students have been working with school administrators and teacher leaders to arrange their event, said district spokeswoman Elizabeth Beadle.
“Students have organized a peaceful demonstration for the National Walk Out to our Wade E. Miller Arena,” she said, referring to the high school’s new gym.
“Each of the 17 people who lost their lives in the the tragic school shooting will be honored and remembered with their photo, biography, and 17 minutes of silence,” she said.
At Hamilton High School, students coordinated with building administrators to create their event, which will be held outside, said district spokeswoman Joni Copas.
“Students have notified the school’s administration of their intent to organize a walkout to show sympathy for the students who died in Florida, show support for their families, and encourage students to treat each other with respect and dignity,” said Copas.
“We support our students’ First Amendment rights to freedom of expression and we have worked with the students to provide a safe way to exercise their rights with little disruption to the school day,” she said.
In Monroe, one school principal is taking a different approach and trying to go further than student protests.
“My belief is that Monroe Junior High School’s response should be something different,” Joe Ward, principal at Monroe Junior High School, wrote in a message sent to school families on Tuesday.
“I will not stand in the way of students who choose to exercise their right to protest, but I want to offer everyone an alternative. Instead of fixating our attention outside our school, we will shift our focus inside onto one another. Starting on March 14, and continuing until we leave for Spring Break on March 23, I am challenging every one of our students to meet 17 new classmates and find at least one meaningful thing in common with them.”