UPDATED: Fort Wayne schools plan remembrance events Wednesday in honor of those killed in Feb. 14 Florida school shooting
Wednesday’s national school walkout in memory of the 17 students and staff who died in the Feb. 14 Parkland, Fla., school shooting will be viewed as a learning opportunity in Fort Wayne Community Schools, Superintendent Wendy Robinson told FWCS board of school trustees members during their meeting Monday night.
“We have taken the approach it is an opportunity for kids to have a civics lesson during the day,” Robinson said during the board’s meeting at Grile Administrative Center.
But FWCS wants to ensure all students are safe, so school staff members are encouraging student activities to take place indoors, she said.
After the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the network of organizers for the past two national Women’s March events in Washington, D.C., called for students around the country to walk out of class at 10 a.m. Wednesday and stay out for 17 minutes — one minute for each student and staff member killed.
Wednesday marks the one-month anniversary of the shooting by Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the school.
FWCS high schools and middle schools have organized remembrance events, and an observance possibly may take place at a few elementary schools, Robinson said.
Students have the option to take part in the remembrance event at their school and won’t be forced to participate, Robinson said.
Other local schools also plan events. They include:
• At Canterbury High School, students who wish to can take part in a “17 Minutes of Remembrance” memorial vigil at 9:57 a.m. Wednesday in the school auditorium, a letter to parents said. Students who don’t want to participate will be given an extended, supervised break. Classes will resume at 10:20 a.m.
The vigil will follow the regular chapel service at 9:38 a.m. and a short talk on “repairing the world” at 9:52 a.m. by a faculty member, the letter said.
• At Concordia Lutheran High School, students, parents, teachers and staff will gather at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the front parking lot for a 17-minute Remembrance & Prayer Event, a news release said. The event will include participation by members of the Fort Wayne police and fire departments.
If it is raining, the event will take place in the main gym.
Just before the event, students and faculty will meet for a public awareness assembly featuring a presentation by Fort Wayne Police Capt. Mitchell McKinney, who is the director of the Community Relations Division and a Concordia parent, the news release said.
• In the East Allen County Schools district, a few of the district’s five high schools will hold remembrance events tomorrow, but not all of them, Tamyra Kelly, EACS public information officer, said via email. No middle schools or elementary schools have planned remembrance events, Kelly said.
• The Southwest Allen County Schools district has no events planned at any of its schools, but students from Homestead High School are trying to organize activities with other students from northeast Indiana outside of school, Stacey Fleming, SACS communications director, said via email.
The Homestead students are posting information about plans on @studentvu on Twitter. One of the recent posts encourages students to wear orange on Wednesday in memory of the Parkland, Fla., victims.
SACS parents also received a letter from SACS superintendent Phil Downs saying the school district “respects the rights of students to express themselves and appreciates student voice in drawing attention to issues of school safety.”
But Downs also said the district cannot encourage or support students leaving class during the school day or going to an unsupervised area.
“Students who choose to walk out any day are subject to disciplinary measures as outlined in our schools’ handbooks and include being marked truant from class,” Downs said.
• Bishop Dwenger plans a remembrance event involving 17 minutes of prayerful silence, but the school has decided not to release details to the media until after the event takes place, Julia Brewer, Dwenger communications coordinator, said via email.
• At Northwest Allen County Schools, school district leaders are encouraging a “walkup” rather than a walkout, said Lizette Downey, NACS chief communications officer.
“A letter was to parents last week stating that, while we invite engagement in current events, the walkout creates a safety concern for students who choose to disrupt their classrooms and go outside unsupervised, and that it is considered a truancy should they leave class,” Downey said via email.
“Some students have proactively approached administrators with several ideas, and they are working together to find options that keep students safe yet allows the student voice to be heard,” Downey said.
The idea of the “walkup” is to approach 14 students and three teachers — the number of students and staff killed in the Parkland, Fla., shooting — with a positive message, Downey said. Ideas include interacting with a student who sits alone every day, talking with a troublemaker in a kind manner, and voicing appreciation to teachers and other adults.
“The proactive prevention message resonates with us, and it has been shared with administrators districtwide as an option,” Downey said.