What Valley schools plan for today's Walkout Day - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

What Valley schools plan for today's Walkout Day

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As students around the nation prepare to for a day of rallies, walkouts, and protests to showcase solidarity after a deadly school shooting in Florida, schools around the Valley are thinking about how best to allow students to exercise their rights while keeping them safe. 

It's been nearly one month since Nikolas Cruz was arrested outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. investigators say Cruz entered the school and opened fire, leaving 17 people dead. 

In the days immediately following the shooting, high school students across the nation staged protests, calling for gun reform and an increased awareness of school safety issues. 

Then the organizers of the Women's March Youth branch, called EMPOWER, stepped in- beginning a national movement known as National School Walkout Day, scheduled for Wednesday, March 14th at 10 a.m. 

But here in the Valley, the idea has lead to some concerns for school leaders. 

For school districts like Southington Local, the idea of vacating the building at a publicized time, and having students out in the open raises too many red flags. 

"We just felt its in the best interests of the students to not go outdoors at a specific time. We don't have a local police department," said Southington Local Superintendent Rocco Nero. "It just couldn't be monitored properly." 

In other places, students raised concerns about safety. 

In Crestview, Superintendent Matthew Manley says student leadership approached the administration about whether it was a safe idea to be outside at a publicized time.

But using that awareness, Manley says the students were able to plan a day in which they could bring officials in to help students register to vote, law enforcement could give presentations on what's expected of students during an active shooter situation, and they could spend time spreading "moments of kindness". 

That activism is also apparent in planned events in other schools. 

For instance, in Lordstown, students will have the opportunity to write letters to Congress members and state lawmakers. Those letters will then be taken to the Ohio Statehouse by a group of high schoolers. 

At least one school district in the Valley says they're playing it by ear, but they have a plan to keep students safe. 

Lisbon Schools Superintendent Joesph Siefke says they're trying to be proactive. Siefke says they gauged the student's interest, and haven't really found that anyone wanted to participate in the walkout. 

However, Siefke says "if something happens spur of the moment, we'll funnel students into the enclosed courtyard." 

The purpose of that Siefke says, is to allow students to express their emotions, feelings, and needs, while keeping them in a safe, controlled environment. 

The majority of Valley schools that 21 News reached out have said that they are planning some type of display or gathering within the school walls- either in a gymnasium, an auditorium, or within classrooms. 

However, some schools say that students will be permitted to exit the buildings for the walkout. 

In the Youngstown City School District students have partnered with Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past to plan walkouts at East, Chaney, and Youngstown Early College. 

Not only will students be permitted to walk out, but the leaders of Sojourn to the Past have invited teachers, parents, and community members to join in and show solidarity. 

Of all the schools 21 News has reached out to, only two specified that either there were no events planned, or that students could face discipline for attempting to participate4 in such an event. 

Last week, Canfield Local Schools sent a letter to parents noting that students who walk out would be in violation of the student code of conduct and could face disciplinary action. 

A letter sent from Poland Schools on Monday mirrored that sentiment, stating "The expectations for student attendance and conduct during the school day remain as always, including associated consequences. We will continue to maintain order, plan for student safety, and keep teaching and learning as our focus."

A list of the schools that 21 News has reached out to can be found here: 

MAHONING COUNTY:

Austintown: 

The district has planned a Safety Assembly for the middle and high school on Wednesday, March 14th beginning at 10:00 a.m.

Students and staff will practice for an evacuation drill, then meet at a specified area on campus. Once at the meeting point, they will hear from administration and Austintown police about procedures in place surrounding school safety. Students will also use this time to honor the 17 victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

On March 13th and 14th students will be able to donate money, with all proceeds going to a local mental health agency. This decision came directly from our Student Council leadership at AMS and Fitch. Students may donate $1.00 to wear orange in support of the Florida victims on the March 13th and donate $1.00 to wear black for mental health awareness on the March 14th.

Boardman:

Principal Cynthia Fernback says the Boardman High School plans a Legacy Event starting at 9:30 am Wednesday with a student-produced video with an overview of the event.

Students will then practice an emergency lockdown, during which seventeen chimes will be sounded in memory of not only the seventeen lives lost in the Florida shootings but in all school shootings.

The lockdown will be followed by a “Spartan Clap-Out” for members of the safety services.

The event will conclude by 10 am.

Campbell:

Students and staff have organized a walkout at both the high school and elementary-middle school for 17 minutes tomorrow. The schools will have additional security on hand during the walk-outs. 

Canfield: 
The high school is allowing the students to use the auditorium for a 17-minute service.

MCCTC and STEM students that would like to participate in the event are being asked to go to the Joyce Brooks Center in the building for 17 minutes. 

Jackson Milton:
21 News has not received a response to inquiries. 

Poland:
According to a letter from the district, the administration is working with students to find "alternative" means for students exercise their concerns. However, the letter indicates that student attendance will continue as any other day, and students may face "associated consequences". 

Salem:
Students have decided to invite classmates to perform seventeen acts of kindness in memory of those who died in the Florida school shootings.

Struthers: 
School officials are still finalizing plans for any scheduled events. 

West Branch:
21 News is working to see if the school has anything planned. 

Youngstown:
Walkouts will be held at East, Chaney and Early College at 10 AM on March 14, 20018. The school district will have additional security on hand. According to a release: Sojourn to the Past is "asking students, teachers, parents, the YSU community to join us at one of the three locations."

TRUMBULL COUNTY:

Brookfield: 

Students and administration have organized a walk-in. Students will be reporting to the high school gymnasium and will observe 17 minutes of silence during which one name will be read per minute to recognize the victims in Parkland. The students have also been asked to wear Parkland school colors in solidarity with those students. 

Girard:
Girard having assembly inside the school where students can talk about gun violence or safety issues.

"It's an initiative where students will be pledging 17 ways in honor of those victims from Parkland, Florida, 17 ways that each individual at Girard H.S. is able to make a difference in our own school community. That is something that excites our students and our staff," according to Girard Principal, William Ryser.

Howland Local School District:
At Howland High School, students have decided to gather in the front hall of the high school for 17 minutes to bring awareness to violence in schools.  A statement on the district's website says students will not be penalized academically or have attendance impacted for participation as long as conducted in a peaceful and appropriate manner.  

Hubbard Exempted Village School District:
At Hubbard High School, students will gather in the auditorium at 10 a.m. for an assembly that is being organized by the student council. There will be a total of 17 speakers (14 students, 3 adults), who will light 17 candles as students say a line representing the lives of each person lost in the Florida shooting.  Hubbard's police chief, mayor, and safety director have been invited by student council to attend.
 
At Hubbard Middle School, students will honor the victims of the Florida shooting by having "Honor 17" Day. Students will be asked to complete 17 acts of kindness to honor of the victims. 


Liberty Local School District:
Students at Liberty High School have decided to hold a candlelight ceremony to honor the 17 victims of the Florida shooting. It will start at 10 a.m. at the high school auditorium.  Each minute, a Liberty student will read the name of one of the 17 victims, provide brief words for reflection and burn a candle in memory of each victim. 


Lordstown Local School District:
Students have chosen to paint the school's spirit rock orange as a nod to school safety.  On the stone, they have plans to write 'Stand with Stoneman' and each victim's name. Students will have the opportunity to write letters to states legislators about issues that are important to them.  Students have requested to participate in roundtable discussions on school safety, mental health services, etc. The first roundtable will begin at 7:45 a.m. The students will also be pausing for 17 seconds of silence during each period of school.  At 10 a.m., students who wish to be part of the walkout will line the parking lot side of the building as students from Lordstown go to Columbus to deliver letters directly to legislators at the statehouse.

McDonald:
Superintendent Kevin O'Connell says student council planned event in the high school gym, where they'll discuss social issues like kindness and anti-bullying.


Niles City School District
Niles McKinley High School's National Honor Society is organizing 17 minutes of silence.  National Honor Society members will (via the PA) share names and information about each one of the people killed in Florida. National Honor Society has asked that students remain in their classrooms and use the time to reflect. Students are also encouraging one another to wear orange on the day to promote safety in schools.


Southington Local: 
Superintendent Rocco Nero says they've met with kids and have decided to take part in 17 moments of silence, which will be observed during high school lunch time. 

Warren: 
21 News has not received a response to inquiries. 


COLUMBIANA COUNTY:

Columbiana:
Officials say student government representatives have planned indoor events to take place in the gymnasium. Students will be permitted to share remembrances, have "quiet corners", and other events. 

Crestview:
Superintendent Matthew Manley says that the students have planned assembly in the "Nonviolence Assembly". He said the high school student council approached the principal and actually said that they didn't feel like it was a safe idea to be outside at a publicized time. He said so the student council put together the agenda for the nonviolence assembly. He said they're focusing on voter registration for students who are or will be 18, they're having the police department make a presentation, and they're going to be signing the Sandy Hook Promise pledge. He said in the lower levels (K-8), they've been focusing all year on their Kindness campaign, so on Wednesday, they will take 17 minutes for students to carry out acts of kindness. 

East Liverpool:
21 News has not received a response to inquiries. 


East Palestine:
An administrative meeting is being held Tuesday to finalize and discuss plans for any events. 

Lisbon:
Superintendent Joseph Siefke says the school is trying to be proactive, but students leaders haven't really said anything- doesn't seem to be much interest. They are not prohibiting it, but if something happens spur of the moment, they'll funnel students into an enclosed courtyard. 

Salem:

According to Salem Jr./Sr. High School Principal Sean Kirkland, it was announced to students on Tuesday that after talking with representatives of the 9th through 12th-grade student council, students have decided to invite classmates to perform seventeen acts of kindness in memory of those who died in the Florida school shootings.

Southern Local: 
Superintendent John Wilson says they have planned to take kids to the gym for a 17 minute period of silence. Says it feels safer. 


MERCER COUNTY: 

Farrell:
21 News has not received a response to inquiries. 

Greenville:
Superintendent Mark Ferrara says a student-led tribute will be held. Ferrara says students will have the chance to "walkout" into the hallways, and moments of silence will be observed inside the classrooms. Ferrara says students will not be permitted to exit the building. 

Grove City:
Students will be given the opportunity to take part in 17 seconds of silence in the classroom. 

Hermitage (Hickory HS):
21 News has not received a response to inquiries. 

Mercer:
21 News has not received a response to inquiries. 

Reynolds: 
21 News has not received a response to inquiries. 

Sharon:
Students have planned a march around the school. Weather dependent, students will be permitted to walk on the school track, however, given the forecast for inclement weather, plans are also being made for an inside march. Following the march classrooms will hold discussions on diversity, mental health, and other relevant conversations. 

Sharpsville:  
Student leaders are hosting an assembly in the gymnasium in which student speakers will be permitted to speak on relevant issues. 

Of the schools that 21 News has talked to, every one has said that all events are voluntary, and students will not be required to participate. 

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