Some students at two Deer Valley Unified School District high schools plan to hold an in-school memorial and demonstration Wednesday, March 14, in support of a nationwide student demonstration against gun violence in schools and in memory of the victims of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting Feb. 14.
Students at Boulder Creek High School and Mountain Ridge High School plan to hold 17-minute memorials, said DVUSD spokesperson Monica Allread. “In both cases, students plan to stay on campus and return to class,” Allread told North Phoenix News.
“We do not know of any other planned walkouts at this time,” she said today. “Student leaders at Barry Goldwater and Sandra Day O’Connor high schools “have not made any plans for a protest or a walkout this week,” she said.
At schools around the country, students plan similar 17-minute walkouts to honor the 17 people killed in the shooting, and also to press for gun reform.
More than 2,800 walkouts are planned, according to Women’s March Youth Empower, a group helping to organize the events. The group’s website encourages students to speak with school administrators to determine safe means of demonstration, which may include congregating in school hallways or gyms, as opposed to leaving campus.
The organization suggests, for safety’s sake, that only students and staff participate in their school walkouts. “If others would like to participate, they can show solidarity by wearing orange and/or walking out of their workplaces to stand with others for 17 minutes,” the group stated.
“We respect our students’ rights for free expression while maintaining a safe environment for students and staff,” DVUSD said in a statement yesterday. “Student leaders at some of our high schools have worked with administrators to develop a plan for a safe and peaceful assembly for students who choose to protest. Our goal in responding to walk-out plans and other forms of peaceful assembly is to keep a focus on teaching and learning.”
The statement continued: “Disorderly conduct or leaving campus is not acceptable and will be handled compassionately but firmly by following the consequences outlined in the Student Right’s & Responsibility Handbook. In addition, DVUSD has enforced and will continue to enforce a zero tolerance policy for weapons or threats. If an investigation reveals that a student has broken these rules, DVUSD will seek the strongest consequences possible for each case.”
Boulder Creek Principal Brittany Sutton issued a similar statement, and added: “Should students choose to partake, they are responsible for any missed work in their classes and must return to class immediately following the 17 minutes. Students are required to remain within the gates of BCHS in the center of campus. Support for supervision, safety, and security will be provided through BCHS administration, security, and MCSO.”