In response to the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018 and the 17 casualties that came with it, students around the nation are taking action with national school walkouts April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting. Timber Creek students intend to participate, spreading awareness for school safety, with the support of Keller ISD administration.
The walkout is taking place on Friday, April 20 at 10 a.m. and will last for 17 minutes, one minute for every life lost at Stoneman Douglas. According to Timber Creek’s Walkout coordinator, Nevaeh Sotelo, all participants will walk out calmly when the clock strikes ten, and meet at the main entrance. The walkout will continue to a march, which will end at the sidewalk off of Timberland Boulevard. Sotelo also says signs are welcome, but not required.
“I feel like the walkout is such a powerful way to get out a clear message that people, students especially, will not tolerate the inaction towards gun violence any longer,” said Sotelo.
While there has been talk around whether or not students will be penalized for the walkout, principal Donald Bartlett assured there will be no repercussions as long as the walkout goes as planned.
“I believe it is your right as students…It’s about student safety,” Bartlett explained. “I have no problem with it whatsoever.”
Though with Bartlett’s primary concern being student safety, he worries about a counter-protest. While he advocates for students having a voice, he wishes for complete safety for Creek attendees on both sides of the political spectrum.
“I’ll have a plan for [Keller ISD Administration] protecting both us and our freedom of speech,” Bartlett told Talon last week.
A letter released to Talon detailed how Bartlett will be communicating with parents about the walkout:
Excerpt from the letter
“In anticipation of the National Student Walkout Day on April 20, 2018, I want to make you aware that the District is not changing any of its procedures or instructional plans, as the Walkout is a student-led, student initiative. If you need to dismiss your child early for any reason that day please remain up front and have your student meet you in the office.
Our preference is to have a normal school day with uninterrupted instruction, but our students have already indicated they plan to walk out. They have also indicated they will be present when class starts, peacefully leave and return to class after the 17-minute Walkout.
Classroom instruction will continue and teachers will not change any previously scheduled activities. Students are not being encouraged by the District either to participate or not to participate. While we will not violate students’ right to assemble, if the Walkout occurs we will manage it in the safest way possible by designating an area outside on school property where students may safely assemble.
This exercise of free speech and assembly is different from an incident that disrupts the learning environment, which is subject to the code of conduct. Students who disrupt class in any way or do not return to class will be disciplined just as they would on any other given school day.
Again, in Keller ISD, student safety is our top priority. If you have questions regarding this or any other matter, please do not hesitate to call our office at 817-744-2300.”
Upon being asked if there will be any suspensions as result of the walkout, Bartlett said “absolutely not.” Although, if there are any threats to students, he assured there will be absolute consequences.
Other than response to threats, the only other repercussion a walkout participant will face, is a marked absence from class, but this is only if the student wishes to leave for the remainder of the day. For students wishing to leave for 17 minutes, then return back to class, there will be no repercussions as long as they leave their classes respectfully.
“I would like our young folks to be doing it for the right reasons, that’s all I’m asking.” Bartlett concluded. “We never want any of us to lose our lives in this building. That is not what a school is for.”