St. Croix Central High School students will be among students across the country who will walk out of school on Wednesday, March 14, in support of the 17 slain Florida high school students and to draw attention to the need for change that will better safeguard their schools.
"This is not a political event. This is about the safety of all our schools and the latest 17 victims," said SCC HS principal Kurt Soderberg. "It is an individual choice to participate or not participate. We support their right to gather peacefully."
According to Soderberg, students and staff will be allowed to quietly get up and leave the building at 9:55 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14. They will gather in silence by the school's flagpole.
"We will remain there from 10 a.m. to 10:17 a.m., in honor of the 17 victims," Soderberg said. "At 10:17 a.m. students and staff will return to their normal day."
The New Richmond and Somerset school districts will be on spring break from Monday, March 12, through Friday, March 16, so neither district will be in session on March 14, which is the day of the national Women's March day. Three different national actions have been announced, including the Women's March Youth Empower walkout on March 14, March for Our Lives on March 24 and National School Walkout Day on April 20. The April 20 date falls on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting in Colorado in 1999.
"Although we will be on break on that day, we have certainly discussed the topic with our staff and students," said New Richmond District Administrator Patrick Olson. "We have students on both sides of the conversation about whether or not we should do something. Some students are not in agreement with it and some are just wondering what they can do to support their fellow students."
According to Somerset High School principal Shannon Donnelly, her students have voiced their desire to participate in the March for Our Lives event in St. Paul on March 24.
"The school board and district are very supportive of the fact that our students want to use their voice to make change in regards to school safety," Donnelly said. "We have provided a bus for the event and any student, parent, community member that wants to attend the event is welcome to join and they can contact me for further information."
The Safe-Way Bus Company has donated a bus to the school district so they can attend the march in St. Paul.
"We have had several students express their points of view at our recent board meetings and they have done a nice job and been very articulate in expressing their views," said Somerset Superintendent Dr. Mark Bezek. "We are happy to provide our students with an avenue to voice their opinions, which is especially important in times like this."
Bezek also mentioned that the Somerset School District will be reviewing its current safety protocols and plans in order to make sure its students are as safe as possible.
"We have a plan to increase the security of the buildings in our district. We are planning on taking a step back and reevaluating how we think about our security," Bezek said.