DeKALB – With students in DeKalb and Sycamore set to participate in Wednesday’s national walkout, the consensus from area administrators is that students should feel supported in their actions – one way or the other.
Students from both school districts will gather at 10 a.m. to participate in a 17-minute moment of silence to honor the lives lost in Parkland, Florida, and try to promote a change in gun laws.
DeKalb School District 428 Superintendent Jamie Craven said the administration is neither encouraging nor discouraging students’ participation, but principals at DeKalb High School, Huntley Middle School and Clinton Rosette Middle School have met with student organizers to go over what they expect Wednesday.
“We talked to our kids about this being a peaceful, respectful process, and we respect the fact that our students have a voice,” Craven said. “This is an opportunity for their collective voice to be heard, and we respect the right for students to advocate for causes important to them.”
DeKalb parents also received emails outlining procedures for the walkout, Craven said.
“In order to maintain and plan to keep a safe environment, I have met with a few students who are planning on participating and asked that they be respectful and orderly as they leave and re-enter the building through the front courtyard,” Clinton Rosette Principal Tim Vincent said in an email to parents. “We have planned an added staff presence in the hallways, as well as in the front entrance of the building.”
The email also said classes will continue as scheduled during the day, and no student will be forced to participate.
Sycamore School District 427 Superintendent Kathy Countryman said a similar email was sent out to Sycamore High School parents to go over the purpose of the walkouts.
“[Students] have indicated this walkout will be respectful in memory of the lives lost due to school shooting tragedies,” the email read. “We have stressed to the students the walkout is to be nonpolitical in nature, but does give them the ability to demonstrate freedom of expression and activism to exact change in our school community and society.”
“It is important for students to understand their abilities as they look to be future leaders,” Countryman said. “We want [students] to have that opportunity.”
Not all area school districts are expected to participate in the walkout, however. Genoa-Kingston School District 424 Superintendent Brent O’Daniell said he is not expecting a walkout Wednesday, but staff will coordinate with students for an April 20 event in response to gun violence.
“The way I understand it is that the kids are not interested in protesting,” O’Daniell said. “They are interested in recognizing the lives of those who were lost in Parkland or in dealing with any form of school violence over the last few months.”