A Call To Action For Our Nation’s Youth
On Wednesday March 14, Elk Grove students participated in Walkout Wednesday to protest gun violence in schools. Elk Grove students joined students across the United States in a show of solidarity. This event was meant to be a mass protest calling for stricter gun control measures in response to the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. For the majority of Elk Grove students, the walkout had the feeling of a call for action for their generation.
There were nearly 3000 reported protests nationwide, with students from the elementary to college level. In the states of Ohio, Georgia, and Massachusetts, students went to their statehouses to lobby for new gun regulations.
Empower is the organization credited with organizing Wednesday Walkout across the nation. Empower is essentially the youth wing of the Women’s March. The Women’s March brought thousands to our nation’s capital last year. Empower suggested that students should leave class at 10AM local time for 17 minutes and suggested that students demand an assault weapons ban and mandatory background checks for all gun sales. “Our elected officials must do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to this violence,” the group said on its website.
The majority of schools in the Elk Grove Unified School District planned for the 17 minute walkout for their students, with all planned and school sanctioned activities concluding by 10:30AM. Some schools such as Cosumnes Oaks High School had 17 minutes of a scheduled walkout event. Pleasant Grove High School was the only school with school sanctioned activities off campus. Some students chose to walk off their campuses after their school sanctioned events. Students from several schools including Franklin High School and Cosumnes Oaks High School congregated at Bartholomew Park in a pre-arranged event that was not sanctioned by schools. Elk Grove Police were on hand to ensure everyone’s safety. Approximately 150 students showed up at Bartholomew Park. Students from Cosumnes Oaks reportedly showed up at Franklin High School and eventually were asked to leave. They returned to Cosumnes Oaks High School.
This Walkout Wednesday event is one of several protests planned for 2018. The March for Our Lives rally for school safety should draw thousands of youth to the nation’s capital on March 24. On April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, another nation wide walkout is planned.
The Supreme Court has held that students at public schools have a First Amendment right to express their political views but schools also have a right to ensure that learning isn’t disrupted. The American Civil Liberties Union publicly issued the following statement. “Schools can discipline you for missing class. But what they cannot do is discipline you more harshly because of the political nature of or the message behind your action.”
Letter Sent to Cosumnes Oaks High School Parents
Dear Parent or Guardian
Today, COHS organized a planned student activity to provide students with a safe place to express their views about current events regarding school safety. This event took place as planned. However, at the conclusion of the event, approximately 100 students chose to leave the school campus to participate in an unsanctioned student organized event.
Local law enforcement maintained a visible presence for safety and security. School staff followed normal school attendance procedures and will uphold District policies with regard to any school disturbances.
The safety of our students and staff is a top priority at our schools.We are sharing this information with you as part of our ongoing efforts to keep you informed about incidents that affect our campus. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at (916) 683-7670.
Letter Sent To Laguna Creek High School Parents
Dear Parent or Guardian and Staff,
I wanted to share with everyone how proud I was of our students this morning during the National School Walkout Rally. The students from our Social Justice Club did an excellent job preparing for and presenting during the event. We had between 400-500 students participate – see the attached picture below – and they were very respectful and well behaved. When the students were reading the names of those that lost their lives in the Florida shooting, you could have heard a pin drop. Please encourage students to continue to be involved by pre-registering to vote, write letters to their government representatives, and write notes of support to the students, staff, and parents in Parkland, Florida.
Great job Cardinals!
Douglas L. Craig
Statement of Xanthi Pinkerton, Spokeswoman of EGUSD When Asked About EGUSD Planned Activities For Walkout Wednesday
All schools had plans in place to provide students with opportunities to express their First Amendment rights. For younger grades, some schools did teach-ins to discuss people in history who changed the course of events through peaceful protest, some schools had students make posters to focus on school safety and some schools conducted lockdown drills. For the intermediate grades and higher (middle and high schools), school organized activities included poster making, forums, history lessons, writing and in some cases a demonstration walk around the school. Pleasant Grove High School was the only school with a school organized activity where at 10am students walked off campus following their parade route to chant and express their views
At Cosumnes Oaks High School and Franklin High School the school organized events were successful and concluded on campus without incident. Approximately 100 COHS students and around 50 Franklin students chose to leave their campuses following the conclusion of the on campus activities to partake in a student organized event that was not sanctioned by either school. After walking to Bartholomew Sports Park, where the two student groups met, students soon dispersed and many returned to their home school. A smaller group of students remained walking and were redirected from entering the Franklin High School campus. At all times, the walking group of students had District officers and local law enforcement nearby to ensure student safety and to keep order. That group of students marched to City Hall and then returned to their home school by dismissal time.
All schools followed normal attendance procedures and, like every day, upheld District policies. If disciplinary action was called for during the day, school administrators would have taken appropriate action. Student disciplinary information is confidential.
Our school administrators, staff and students acted with empathy to honor the lives lost to gun violence at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, their conversations focused on humanity, many groups came together and were respectful of each other’s views, students’ voices were valued, important lessons were taught and learning continued. All the while, our District’s Safety and Security Department and local law enforcement partners were visible throughout the District and kept watch to ensure student safety.
Statement of Xanthi Pinkerton, Spokeswoman of EGUSD When Asked About EGUSD’s Position Regarding Students Protesting Gun Violence & EGUSD Efforts To Make Elk Grove Schools Safer
Elk Grove Unified supports and values all student voices. After the tragedy of Sandy Hook, fencing was installed at all EGUSD schools including middle and high schools. Since that time, ongoing review, maintenance and repairs have been taking place on door locks and exit/entrance protocols. The District has plans to invest an additional $20 million on security cameras per Measure M and the Master Facilities Plan. When tragic events occur they also offer lessons in how we can improve our own safety precautions. District staff is reviewing and evaluating ways to improve current safety measure, procedures and protocols. At this time, EGUSD schools have secure perimeters, a common practice of one entry point into the school with a check-in/put identification process and school resource officers in all nine regions supported by campus security, District safety and security personnel and local law enforcement partnerships.
Video Credit: Gary Davis
Statement from Rachel Baird, English Teacher At Cosumnes Oaks High School
The school’s intent was for students to walk out for only 17 minutes, but many of our students wanted to make a grander statement by having an actual walkout as intended by the nation-wide organizers. The school resource officers did an excellent job ensuring the safety of the students as they respectfully marched in protest down Whitelock and chanted messages for their cause. Their choice of marching to BSP was co-organized by students at Franklin who had planned to meet them there. I agree that they were mislead and wrong when they headed to Franklin’s campus, but they’re young and new at this and aren’t fully versed in the boundaries of what is acceptable in a protest. They did not cause any damage to property or cars and were being monitored by law enforcement the entire time. When they were told to leave Franklin they then peacefully returned to BSP where students spoke uplifting messages about using their voice to encourage change as well as living the change themselves. They weren’t just attempting to get out of school, as the majority of them walked back to campus in the pouring rain and attended their later classes. These are students who have done their research, are wanting change, and are willing to accept the consequences to make it happen. They are inspiring and strong. They are our future.
Statement from Bobbie Singh-Allen of Elk Grove Unified School District Board
I’m proud to support all students including my boys who are participating in the National School Walkout. They are protesting #GunViolence and standing in solidarity to remember the 17 students gunned down in #StonemanDouglasHighSchool. Having gone through a school lockdown last week, my sons experienced a frightening ordeal wondering if there was a shooter on campus. It’s terrible knowing these kids have grown up all to familiar with mass shootings, especially in schools. I’m inspired by these students who are owning their voice.
Empowering Our Youth
In general, the majority of Elk Grove youth seem to be of a similar mindset in that they simply wish to be able to go to school without having to worry about gun violence. For the generation that has grown up with lockdown drills, the youth of Elk Grove are party to a new movement for change. Naturally, this is catalyzed by the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida in February. Unlike previous generations, this current generation of youth is faced with justified fear. After the Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a series of copycat shootings and incidents occurred where students brought guns to school. Cosumnes Oaks High School and Elizabeth Pinkerton Middle school recently had an incident where both campuses were placed on lockdown. However, no weapon was found.
Washington, lawmakers, and the NRA, will have difficulty stamping out calls for gun control this time. Let us keep in mind that we hear about shootings in schools and schools on lockdown on a daily basis. The amount of school shootings and the number of lockdowns in schools in the United States has increased since the Florida high school shooting in February. Even if you look at Elk Grove and Sacramento, we are no exception. That fact is frightening. Youth across the nation and in Elk Grove know that we all have the Right To Bear Arms. However, they also seem to recognize that if systems aren’t put in place for gun control or better background checks, then we will be prioritizing the Right To Bear Arms over an individual’s right to live. The cost is too great.
We must lift up the youth of Elk Grove as they strive to stay safe and as they deal with real fears regarding gun violence. As they go through their daily lives, we can proceed cautiously and gently guide our youth to make correct decisions. We all have the Right to Free Speech and the Right to Peaceful Assembly. By inspiring our youth, and encouraging them to use their voices for positive changes, we can all lift up our community of Elk Grove and our nation as a whole.
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