‘Walk-in’ to raise awareness for school safety is March 14

Southmoreland High School students will join other high school students across the nation Wednesday by having a “walk-in” in memory of the 17 students killed Feb. 14 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The event will be used to raise awareness of the importance of school safety, said principal Mr. Dan Krofcheck.

“A group of students formed a planning committee and informed (superintendent) Dr. (John) Molnar and me that students were planning a walk-out,” Mr. Krofcheck said Tuesday. “We assembled a team of administrators, teachers and security personnel to meet with them, set parameters, and help in any way we could.  We believe students have a first amendment right to speak out about events such as this, but we also understand that we are ultimately responsible for the orderly operation of the school and for student safety.”

Junior Dakota Coffman said the walk-in will occur at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 14. Coffman, who worked with Southmoreland administrators to organize the walk-in, said the day will mark the one month anniversary of the Parkland shooting. The walk-in is to last 17 minutes in memory of the 17 students who were slain and will occur in the commons area of the high school.

Coffman said nine high school students met Monday with superintendent Dr. John Molnar, principal Mr. Dan Krofcheck, assistant principal Mrs. Tracey Kuchar and school police officer Mr. Greg Keefer, to discuss the walk-in, called “Walk-in for a Reason.”

The event is meant to be in support of the importance of school safety.

Mr. Krofcheck said students will not be permitted to leave the building for safety reasons but will be permitted to gather in the commons area for a 17-minute of silence in memory of the 17 Parkland shooting victims.

Mr. Krofcheck released the following statement:

“The plan is that students from the committee will be distributing pieces of masking tape on which students who wish to do so can write their reasons for being part of the ‘walk-out.’  They will then tape their mouths shut, if they so choose, for 17 minutes of silence.  At the end of 17 minutes the pieces of tape will be placed onto a large poster.  I’m not sure what the plan is for the poster, local display or sent to Stoneman Douglas.  The poster that they created to promote the March 14 event includes references to Columbine, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Franklin Regional, and one other school.

“Our main parameter was that the event be a ‘walk-in’ as opposed to a walk-out.  We were concerned about student safety, counter-demonstrators who are not part of our school community, etc.  The student committee had already considered that option, so the event will be held in the commons/café/auditorium vestibule area. Students will not be permitted to leave the building during the event.

“Student participation is voluntary.  Students students who choose not to participate will remain in their scheduled classrooms.  If students want to attend, they should inform their teachers. This is purely voluntary; we cannot make the students attend.”

Southmoreland administration and faculty members have been supportive of the idea of a walk-in.

“I support anything my students are passionate about,” said Mrs. Jenna Hixson, language arts teacher.

“I’m very impressed that our student body is organizing a protest here,” said history teacher Ms. Jennifer Tacconi. “I’m proud that they want to be so involved.”

“I’m so very proud of our students. If I were at any other school, this would not be happening or at least as organized as it is,” said assistant principal Mrs. Tracey Kuchar.

Coffman said a national event is in the planning stages for April 20. Students will have an opportunity to learn how to register to vote and write to members of the Senate and Congress to voice concerns school safety and school violence.

Additional information will be released at a later time, Coffman said.


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