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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Students in Fort Thomas Experience Productive, Peaceful Walkouts

Students walked out of classrooms nationwide today to protest gun violence and call for new gun control measures.

In Fort Thomas Independent Schools, students have personalized the meaning of this day in a way that promotes inclusion and friendliness amongst the student body. Around 300 students at the high school locked arms in solidarity.

A soft fluttering of snow began moments before the event, which began at 10 a.m. and lasted for 17 minutes to memorialize the 17 victims massacred on February 14 at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The snow was met with a quiet calmness in front of Highlands High School and a peaceful and positive event was occurring  around back, as many students left class to honor shooting victims and protest violence.

Students locked arms in solidarity as they listened to other students speak.
Highlands High School Principal, Jeff Schneider, met with students and administrators. He communicated to students and parents their school's intentions and followed through with that plan today.

Students who wanted to participate were excused to observe a moment of silence, which was followed by the students speaking about changes they feel can be made to improve the school climate. Students were supervised by faculty and the Fort Thomas Police also had a presence.

All the students were back in class by 10:20.

Today at 10:02 a.m. at Highlands High School. A peaceful blanket of snow seemed to muffle outside noise. FTM file. 
"Our school has taken the appropriate measures to ensure this will be a safe and productive demonstration.  Included below is a brief description of the event that will take place," he wrote. "We are hoping that students can identify productive changes that can easily be implemented at HHS as well as other schools.  We are asking our students to truly make Highlands a better place than it already is."

At Highlands Middle School, an event was not planned, but school officials gave students the opportunity to participate in a "walk-in".

An email from the school to parents described what that was.

"Students were allowed to visit the cafeteria as a supportive space for those 17 minutes.  We had about 300 students come to the cafeteria to sit in solidarity.  We had a three minute moment of reflection, table discussions around why those chose to come down today and what actions they could undertake to going forward to connect with others and continue to make a difference.  Prior to ending they joined hands to recognize that together they are stronger and can be difference makers.

Everyone was great, the kids did a great job and teachers were there for support.  Everyone returned to class as expected.  The kids were really fantastic and I'm very proud of how they conducted themselves."

At Moyer Elementary a fourth grade student made a sign and planted 17 pinwheels in front of the school to honor the 17 victims. Ten-year-old, Harrison Schultz, stood outside of the school, with his father, Brian, watching.

He said that he didn't want those victims to be forgotten.

"My sign says 'Never Again' because I don't want to have to worry about being shot at schools again. It makes me sad that kids are being shot in a place like this, I think about it all the time," he said.

His father said that once he heard about the walkout, he asked his parents if he could participate.

"We were hesitant at first to allow him to do it but we talked about it as a family and told him that if he wanted to do it, that it would be appropriate to talk with the school administration to ask if it would be okay. They were very accommodating, as they always are, as long as we followed the protocol of signing him out," he said.

"We are extremely proud of him."

Superintendent, Dr. Karen Cheser, said she was proud of how her students reacted.

"We want to empower our students and we will continue to spread the positive messages that they discussed today. It's so important to reach every student and make them feel like they are a valuable part of our school and community," she said. "Our job is to prepare them for our global marketplace and by giving them the opportunity to work through this collaboratively, they learn global leadership skills." 

1 comment:

  1. My wife and I moved to Ft. Thomas with our two daughters (4 and 1) just under a year ago. A big reason for our decision was because of the reputation of the school district. Reading an article like this just reaffirms that we made the right decision. I am looking forward to our girls attending school in this district. Thank you for taking steps in assuring the safety of the students in this situation. Kudos!