Mohave Valley Jr. High students held a walk-out today in opposition to gun violence in public schools in conjunction of the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting incident.
The event was student-planned and driven. The students were conscientious enough to speak with the school’s administration regarding consequences of such an action, as well as the logistics of an event should it happen. Mr. Troidl and Mrs. Hansen made it abundantly clear that student safety was of greatest concern, meaning any type of gathering needed to be controlled and in a safe and secure environment.
At 10 am, approximately 300 students walked out of class during the last 10 minutes of second period. Anticipating the possible action, staff was positioned in the hallways and the door leading into the courtyard, and ushered students into the gymnasium where students could gather in a safe and controlled environment.
Once inside, after a few minutes with no action, the administration addressed the students, confirming that their action needed to be about more than just getting out of class, and confirmed that the action was indeed to protest gun violence in our schools. From there, discussion continued, asking students to brainstorm possible solutions with those around them, followed by a time of sharing out about 20 possibilities. Students were asked to remember that while their peers may have different solutions, even some that they may personally disagree with, it was important not to be judgmental of those suggestions but rather to listen, keeping in mind the end goal rather than the solutions. Students were reminded that their safety was always the district’s end goal, and explained several initiatives that both the district and governor were proposing to help insure that safety.
After approximately 15 minutes, students were asked to return to class. The whole incident lasted less than 20 minutes.
From the administration’s point of view, this was a positive experience for all involved. Knowing this aged student’s desire to make a statement regardless of the means, it was refreshing to see that students were orderly, compliant, and seemed to engage in meaningful discussion. Even unpopular solutions (like requiring clear backpacks) were met with respect. At the same time, it is important to know that students knew they were responsible for the work they missed; students were neither shunned nor required to participate, as approximately 100 students remained in class for one reason or another.