Students in NM, elsewhere plan school safety walkouts
Joy Wang and Meg Hilling
March 14, 2018 08:23 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Students across the country plan to walk out of class Wednesday and stay out 17 minutes to remember the 17 lives taken in the Florida school shooting.
Hundreds of New Mexico students plan to take part. This might put parents in an awkward spot. Do they sign off on their kids walking out of school?
"It's important to look at it not so much as a political process, but as a parent, as a developmental process for your teen," said Dr. Scott Carroll, a psychiatrist at Presbyterian. "So that way they're working out their own feelings and beliefs about things."
As the world continues to change, Carroll said these students will change too.
"This is a very healthy process," he said. "So instead of sort of viewing it from a political lens, seeing it as them starting to engage in the world, start to be more aware and starting to be more in touch with themselves."
The national debate surrounding gun violence and school shootings has grown over the last month, and students are driving that conversation.
"This is a deeply felt issue for students because they're worried about their personal safety," Carroll said. "So even though you may not agree with the point they're making, the point being is if you love your child, you still want to respect and accept their feelings."
It's key to validate their concerns while also warning them protests can become disruptive," Carroll said.
"Once things get a little scary or start getting out of hand, that's probably time to leave ... because you don't want to get caught up in that," he said.
Albuquerque and Santa Fe school districts recognize these protests are happening and say they're supportive of their students. But since this is happening on campus, legal experts say students should also be aware of their rights.
"We realize that they're in pain right now. They want to see change, and it's a beautiful time to see such young people engaging," said Leon Howard, ACLU New Mexico’s legal director.
But with protests can come consequences. The ACLU said students should do some homework before walking.
"They should know the consequences and read their school handbook or the district policies, what penalties can be for missing class for a short period of time," Howard said.
Legally, walking out shouldn't be treated any harsher than skipping class for the same amount of time.
"Peaceful protest is always protected. It's the very core of people's constitutional rights,” said Peter Kierst, a senior lecturer and undergraduate Advisor at UNM’s Department of Political Science.
The protest can't get out of hand or become disruptive. Those who don't want to be a part of it have to be able to go about their day too.
"The right to engage in protest at school is more limited because the school also has another function and the other people have their rights, that also needs to be protected and respected," Kierst said.
Here are some of the walkouts and other events planned:
SANDIA HS: A joint effort between student leaders and administration. Students will be forming an S for "safety" on soccer field (visuals opportunity), and those participating are being asked to wear maroon in support of Douglas HS.
JEFFERSON MS: The school is planning to walkout at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes.
ELDORADO HS: The school is planning to walkout at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes. More than 150 students are expected to attend.
ORTIZ MS: At 2 p.m. students will dismiss by grade level onto the field. The entire school community will unite in a circle. Students are expected to observe a moment of silence to acknowledge each individual that passed away in the Parkland, FL school shooting.
SANTA FE HS: Students have the option of walking out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. for a peaceful demonstration. Participants will send off balloons to remember the victims from Florida and Aztec. Students will also have sidewalk chalk to write words for peace on our walkways. The whole event should last about 30 minutes.
CESAR CHAVEZ ES: Students will be creating a mural during their assigned recess times.
AZTEC, N.M. – While many high schools throughout the country are preparing for walkouts to occur Wednesday in response to gun violence, Aztec High School is preparing for a "walk-up."
The students will head out to the front of the school to honor the 21 students that have lost their lives in school shootings since December. Following a moment of silence, the students will launch a campaign centered on pledging to commit 21 acts of kindness.
"If we want to make a change, we have full opportunity to do that," said Kirk Carpenter, the Aztec School District superintendent.
Students will also be encouraged to write letters to lawmakers.
"Nothing is more powerful than a student’s voice especially a student’s voice that has had such a tragedy happen at their school," Carpenter said. "If they have concerns about safety and other issues, they need to write those and send them to senators."
They aren't the only high school taking this approach. Bloomfield, Farmington, Kirtland Central and Durango high schools are just a few of the Four Corners schools where students and staff are also planning on taking similar action.
"So if you want to be part of a change, don't complain, do something about it," Carpenter said.
Student council members are helping organize it all.
"Again, we are not telling them what to write, we are not telling them what to do," Carpenter said. "We are giving them suggestions, but it is hard to argue with kindness and it is hard to argue with paying tribute in a respectful way."
Joy Wang and Meg Hilling
Updated: March 14, 2018 08:23 AM
Created: March 13, 2018 05:30 PM
Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved