NRHS students participate in National High School Walkout
Over 100 New Richmond High School students took part in a quiet, nonviolent and respectful walkout event on Friday, April 20, as part of the National High School Walkout, which took place across the country.
"The walkout was a pretty fluid situation. We had talks with people from both sides of the conversation. Because of that, we were working on the details of the walkout until we sent out the letter to the parents (on April 19)," said district administrator Patrick Olson. "We had the whole thing vetted all the way up from the students to the school board. We want to be respectful to everyone, which is part of why we set strict parameters for the walkout."
The students took part in the walkout from 10-10:17 a.m., at which time they silently formed a circle under the high school's flagpole out of respect for the 17 victims who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Feb. 14. The reason for choosing this date: April 20 is the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting in Colorado.
"The high school administration did a really good job of handling the walkout and everything that came with it. The staff sat down with students from both sides to make sure we were listening to everyone," Olson said. "There were students on both sides of the conversation, who were for and against having a walkout. We see the walkout as a way to educate our students."
School staff, along with a pair of New Richmond police officers, sectioned off the drop-off/pick-up loop in front of the school and supervised the walkout to ensure everyone's safety.
"As a district, we know that some students may wish to participate in this activity as a remembrance of the victims in Parkland, to protest gun violence, or to promote school safety. We value the voice of our students and their desire to make their schools and community safer," Olson and school principal Tom Wissink said in their letter to parents.
According to the letter, although students were allowed to leave their classes and assemble in front of the school, teachers continued with their classroom instruction as planned, as the instructional day was not altered to accommodate the students who chose to walkout. At 10:17 a.m. all students returned to their classes, where attendance was taken. Students who did not return to class were marked absent. Students that chose to participate and miss class were responsible for any work or tests missed, with no extra time given for makeups.