On March 14, thousands of American students marked the tragic deaths of those killed in Parkland, Florida by walking out of their classrooms. The 17-minute demonstration began at 10:00 am and each minute represented one victim of the shooting. As in many schools across our country, important discussions took place at New School High about how to respond. In the days leading up to the demonstration there was information shared in Morning Meeting. The discussion continued in Mr. Sikkenga’s social studies classes, with many suggestions given by the students.
It was decided that if students chose to participate in a silent walk to coordinate with the nationwide demonstrations they would be permitted to do so without disciplinary action. Students who did not choose to participate could remain together in the Big Room. As always, in talks with the students our staff emphasized the importance of respecting the choices of others. We stressed that while we may diverge in our views about how our nation should address gun violence, we all mourn the innocent lives that have been lost.
On March 14, approximately half of our students walked in silence around the school building and half stayed in. I want you to know that I am very proud of our students for their thoughtful responses. Throughout the day, the calm atmosphere that is so characteristic of our school remained constant. My sense is that our students have strong feelings about things; at the same time they place great value on the relationships they have created at school. It is my hope that they will continue to grow as citizens who are committed to deeply held beliefs as well as to peaceful and productive dialogue.