Students at Shawnee Mission high schools will leave their buildings around 10 a.m. this morning as part of efforts organized for National Walkout Day, commemorating the anniversary of the Columbine killings in 1999 and calling for reforms to stop future school shootings.
Building officials have worked with students at the high schools to coordinate demonstrations that can be carried out on district property, and modified class schedules to reduce the disruption to the school day.
“While these events are not endorsed by the school or staff, we respect the way our students have approached this opportunity by collaborating with their school administrators to create a mutually agreed-upon plan,” the district said in a statement. “These students have expressed their desire to honor the 17 people who lost their lives in the Parkland, Florida shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. They also have a desire to show solidarity to support safe schools across the nation.”
The school board issued a statement on the planned walk outs as well:
The Shawnee Mission Board of Education supports students as they exercise their right to “free speech” in civil and nondisruptive ways. As always it is the district’s top priority to keep our students and staff safe.
While student organizers at the schools have agreed to keep their message focused on a desire to improve school safety, it appears to have been a tricky balance, with some student leaders in recent days indicating they felt administrators had tried to control the message.
Shawnee Mission schools aren’t the only ones where students have organized walkouts. Blue Valley students have organized walkout events across the district during the school day as well, with a district-wide gathering set for 4 p.m. at the Church of the Resurrection.
Several Johnson County students have been involved in a multi-school event that will take place at Hyde Park in Kansas City, Mo., and will include students from Pembroke Hill, Bishop Miege and other metro schools.