Today students at high schools across America are expected to walk out of classes to protest school violence and stand in solidarity with the students of Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – where 17 students were murdered on Valentine’s Day.
And Manteca Unified School District will be no exception.
But rather than allowing students to simply walk out of class to protest, the district has worked with the students as well as the faculty and the individual school sites to give students the opportunity to still participate without creating disruption or cutting into classroom instruction time.
According to district officials, Manteca Unified will be participating in a nationwide program called “17 Acts of Kindness” – allowing students to spend the 17 minutes that are being highlighted in honor of those who were slain in Parkland, Florida, while remaining on campus.
“As safety is our number one priority and we understand that these may be emotionally charged times, we wanted to encourage conversations at home about the numerous school walkouts protesting school violence in the upcoming weeks or months across the nation,” said Manteca Unified spokesperson Victoria Brunn in a statement. “It is important that all of us continue to work on the issues of school safety, but we are working to do so in ways that minimize disruption to school instruction.
“As a way to support the survivors and victims of the Parkland, Florida school incident we are participating in our local campaign titled 17 Acts of Kindness. Teachers and students in our schools have found ways within the structure of the school day to act in the spirit of kindness while supporting our Character Counts Pillar: Caring at the elementary level.”
In the wake of the school shooting in Florida, Manteca High School generated widespread local news coverage after students responded by placing Post-It notes on the lockers of every single student on campus reminding them that they are important, and that they matter.
In order to allow for students to still retain their voice, but do so without interrupting scheduled class time, the district will be working with school sites to amend schedules to allow the 17-minute block of time to take place during a break period. This concession is only scheduled for the March 14 national student walkout, which will coincide with the one-month anniversary of the school shooting in Florida. The 17-minute period will allow for each of the students that were killed to be honored with a moment of silence or an activity for one minute.
Additional walkout dates, including the one planned for April 20 – in remembrance of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado – will not be treated the same way.
“We want to support the First Amendment rights of our students but want to be clear that the choice to be absent from class will be treated as an unexcused absence and held accountable by our student code of conduct handbook guidelines,” Brunn said in a statement to clarify the district’s position.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.