A national debate is set to make itself felt in one school in East Jefferson County, as Chimacum High School students plan to take part in a nationwide school walkout March 14.
As of Tuesday, administrators at Port Townsend High School said they had not heard whether their students were to be involved in the nationwide school walkout.
The walkout is to begin at 10 a.m., Wednesday, March 14 to honor the 17 people who died as a result of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, Feb. 14.
Chimacum High School (CHS) students plan to walk out that day.
CHS junior Aurora Plunkett, one of four students organizing the walkout at her school, explained that their goal is not only to honor the 17 who died in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, but also to spread awareness in the local community about “what we can do to make our schools more safe.”
Plunkett elaborated that the overall movement has been organized by the National Women’s March, but clarified that the event in Chimacum is not a march, but a walkout.
“At 10 a.m., we will quietly remove ourselves from our classrooms, and stand outside of our high school doors,” Plunkett said. “The first 18 minutes will be silent, to honor those who died in the recent Florida shooting, then until 10:30 a.m., it will become a non-silent protest, because we believe we should be heard.”
Plunkett reported that she expects the protest to include speakers, and participants are invited to bring signs.
“This is not just a high school issue,” Plunkett said. “We want to see all of our schools safe. Many teachers have voiced the wish that they could do more, but they still support us. Adults are invited to come and learn more about what we want. Most of the students at Chimacum High School are participating.”
Plunkett and her fellow student organizers have coordinated the event with CHS’s principal, Brian MacKenzie.
“I thanked them for the advance notice, as it allows us to plan appropriate supervision to keep everyone safe,” MacKenzie said. “While, as a public school, we cannot endorse the political content of any particular demonstration, we do encourage students to exercise free speech constructively, to articulate well-reasoned positions on civic issues. For this reason – and in gratitude for the advance notice – we will not enforce disciplinary consequences for this particular walkout, assuming it is orderly, appropriate and hews to the times indicated.”
Quilcene School Principal Sean Moss told The Leader that he’s heard “very little” about a walkout by his own students, but he’s nonetheless “fully aware of what has been going on elsewhere” and has met with his staff about this issue.
“If a walkout were to occur, our top priority would be to ensure that students act in a safe and respectful manner,” Moss said. “We also look at walkouts through the lens of education, as a way to continue the conversation about civic responsibilities and stress the importance of taking part in constructive dialogue.”
Alex Heilig, dean of students for PTHS, said school staff had reached out to members of student government about what plans they may have for a walkout.
“We have not heard back from them,” Heilig said Monday. “We are in talks with our students about what may happen … I know students are interested,” he said.
– Reporter Chris Tucker contributed to this story.