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Walkout organizers encourage students from all sides to join Friday, share views on school safety

Parent note required for those under 18

Kent Smith, Staff Writer

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Students who are either 18 or have a parent note may attend the school walkout Friday at the amphitheater behind the library. The walkout will be geared toward bringing awareness to safety in schools, and will begin at 10 a.m.

The event, which is held on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine School shooting, will last throughout third period. Students are encouraged to come up with their own speeches and topics for discussion. However, all speakers must first contact junior Stockten Blanco or senior Evan Chilton. Speeches must be short and to the point, containing no inflammatory statements or insults. 

“We’ll have open space for any kind of discussion; anybody that wants to share any opinion they have, they’re welcome to,” Chilton said.  “It doesn’t have to be for any side. It doesn’t matter which side you’re on. What is really important is getting the ideas out there and making sure we are all understanding each other.”

Attendees will receive an unexcused absence and are required to make up any work missed in accordance with district policy. Any students under 18 who attend the event without parent permission will receive two days of ISS. The event and its guidelines are the result of  discussions that took place two weeks ago between school administration and a group of students lead by Blanco and Chilton.

“I deeply appreciate the students having enough faith in me and Celina High School to include us in the discussion to ensure that all parties are safe on that day and a free exchange of expression can take place,” principal David Wilson said, “We have a lot of conflict in our world and sometimes if people can come together, share their ideas, and talk about differences. That is how real change comes about and that is why our students, staff, teachers, parents and community, are the best in Texas.”

“We’ll have open space for any kind of discussion, anybody that wants to share any opinion they have, they’re welcome to. It doesn’t have to be for any side; it doesn’t matter which side you’re on. What is really important is getting the ideas out there and making sure we are all understanding each other.””

— Evan Chilton, 12

The walkout will honor those who have passed in school shootings and encourage students to exercise their First Amendment right, which Wilson has asked everyone to respect.

“We really appreciate that, for not trying to infringe on our message in any way,” Blanco said.  “They are totally making sure we are making a safe platform for this advocacy.”

Geared toward gun control, organizers have also said that they are not out to promote a political agenda, but instead hope students from all backgrounds will feel comfortable taking part in a positive way.

“We are not endorsing any side,” Chilton said. “Of course, we all have our own opinions, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a productive discussion. We can still share our ideas, and that’s really what we are hoping for from other students as well.”

Officials requested students not walk out the front of the building, instead going out a single door into the amphitheatre where administrators feel students will be more protected. Officer Bobby Manson will be on the scene to protect students in event of violence. 

“I know our principals and administration are constantly talking about it, going over and reviewing plans, so I’ve put my faith in them,” algebra teacher Sue Christopher said.

However, Christopher also said she doesn’t approve of students walking out of class and is worried about disrupting the school day.

“I just feel like there could be a more productive way of communicating that as opposed to a walkout,” Christopher said. “There are other ways to do this. I would love to see a round table or organized discussion that comes up with concrete ways that we can feel as a group to make our school safer.”

Sophomore Gage Gibbs also said he disagrees with students walking out, but also acknowledges their right to do so.

“In a school, I’m not sure that walking out of a classroom is the best choice,” sophomore Gage Gibbs said. “If someone wants to go walk out, they can go to Clyde Warren Park and do that. They can participate in the March for Our Lives they had a couple weeks ago, or any day after school.  I just don’t think walking out during school is a good time. But, I think that we have the freedom to say what we want to, and I think it’s great that we can show that.”

 

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Walkout organizers encourage students from all sides to join Friday, share views on school safety