NORTH STONINGTON — Staff at Wheeler High School have planned for several scenarios ahead of a national student walkout set for Wednesday morning.
Media reports have generally called the walkout a chance for students to memorialize the 17 victims of the Parkland, Fla., high school shootings. Fourteen high school students were killed Feb. 14 by a gunman inside the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
It’s also been touted as a call to action by students, who are demanding stronger measures to increase school safety.
“Faculty have prepared for multiple scenarios and met in small groups to plan,” Principal Kristen St. Germain said.
One wildcard is the weather: A two-hour snow-related delay to the start of classes, St. Germain said, would put the start of the day at 9:20, or just 40 minutes before the planned 10 a.m. start of the walkout. That will require a shuffling of the day’s schedule.
Teachers also are trying to get a sense of how many students intend to participate in the 17-minute event.
“We have yet to have students approach us about wanting to take part in the walkout,” St. Germain said Monday. “It’s not that they’re not aware of it. But with several snow days and disruptions already, a lot of them are busy catching up, and there hasn’t been a lot of time to talk about it.”
The school will allow students the choice to participate. An announcement will be broadcast at 10 a.m. noting its start and a moment of remembrance, specifically for the Parkland victims.
High school students wishing to take part will then proceed to the school’s media center, while middle school students will go to the cafeteria, St. Germain said.
Teachers will accompany the students and a resident state trooper will be on hand as well to ensure security.
Following its conclusion, students will go to fourth-period classes. If there’s a weather delay, they’ll go to their advisory groups.
Students who don’t participate will stay in their classrooms with a staff member.
A letter was sent to parents later Monday explaining the planned event, which the school agreed to sponsor.
“By sponsoring the event, students will not face disciplinary consequences if they participate, as long as they follow the rules in place regarding the security of the event,” St. Germain said in the letter.
The school counseling office will be available throughout the day for students who need additional time to process the events, St. Germain said.
Also, the school will host what it calls a Mix It Up Lunch, “encouraging students to make new friends and open themselves up to new friendships and positive relationships with others,” St. Germain said.