Midway ISD: Students participating in walkout in remembrance of Florida victims won't be sanctioned

Posted: 2:21 PM, Mar 13, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-25 01:31:30Z

Midway High School students are planning to walk out of their classrooms for 17 minutes to remember the 17 victims of the Florida shooting on Feb. 14. 

Midway Senior Avi Patel who helped form the committee who organized the event said at least 75 students are expected to attend.

"I wanted to be part of this national movement to help send a message to Congress and policymakers that students won't have this anymore. That we are fearing to go to school, to get an education. And we don't want that fear." Patel said.

The walkout, which is part of a national movement, aims to honor the victims and advocate for gun control reform.

"When I heard about what happened in Parkland, I was in awe. I was completely shocked that another shooting had happened in the United States of America and that nothing was done by Congress," Patel said.

Midway Junior Emily Kate Mosley who also helped organize the committee spearheading the effort said it allows lawmakers to know students are watching their actions.

"Whether we can vote today or vote tomorrow or vote in five years, we are still listening to what they're doing and paying attention to what's going on in Congress," Mosley said.

The co-founder of the McLennan High School Democrats said the walkout aims to start the conversation but it is not the only action the group plans to take moving forward.

"We don't want to walk out and sit there. We plan to walk out and call senators, and walk out and raise awareness and this is just the first step," Mosley said.

Patel is hoping to start a program at Midway High school called "We Dine Together," which involves approaching students who are lonely at lunch and sitting with them.

Mosley said they have talked to the administrators about developing programs that make students with mental health issues feel comfortable approaching administrators. 

Midway ISD recently sent a letter to parents letting them know about the event, which they say will not be sanctioned by the administration. The district said that they also have events planned in the classrooms for the students who will not be participating in the walkout.

Below you can find the letter sent to parents by the Midway ISD administration: 

Good afternoon, Midway students and families,

Tomorrow marks one month from the Parkland, Florida tragedy that has affected all of us in the school community.  Midway High School will pause for a brief moment of silence in the classrooms and read aloud the names of the lives lost at 10:00 a.m.   We will then have students spend just a few minutes of their morning completing a Midway High School campus safety survey in their 3rd period class.  We are collecting insight and reflection from our students in regards to our specific campus safety protocols and procedures.  We encourage our students to give us honest feedback after we take a few moments and recognize the lives lost in Florida.

Recently, I have been in conversations with several students that have planned a student walkout in correlation with national efforts promoted through social media.  Our top priority is to support the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students while at the same time maintaining a safe and orderly learning environment.  Although the walkout is student-led and not Midway-sanctioned, we respect our students having the opportunity to share their voice in light of recent events in Florida. 

Please know students can contact me or any school administrator at any time.  I highly encourage you to talk to your child(ren) about how they may be feeling about the recent events that happened in Florida and the importance of expressing their thoughts appropriately at school.  It’s important to emphasize that disorderly conduct that disrupts school operations is not acceptable and will be handled compassionately but firmly in accordance with the Code of Student Conduct.  

Thank you for your cooperation as partners in the education of your child(ren).  At Midway High School, we do not take this responsibility lightly.    

Some Midway middle school students are also planning to take part in the walkout. Middle school principal Dr. Herb Cox advised students not to participate in the 17-minute moment of silence.

"I would encourage you not to walk out of school tomorrow. If these plans are known outside of our school, I'm not sure who all might be aware of our student body planning on being out in the courtyard at a particular time tomorrow. You need to remember, your safety and security are extremely important to me as your principal," Midway Middle School Principal Dr. Herb Cox said.

He is proposing students remain inside instead as he makes an announcement on the intercom at 8:05 a.m. Cox said he would ask the student body to stand in silence and read the 17 names of the victims, which will be followed by a 90-second moment of silence. In addition, he plans to ask students to be seated while he tells them about the safety protocols at Midway.

He plans to have posters and cards for students to sign that will later be sent to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Two students from Tennyson Middle School are organizing a gathering at the school's football field. 

"Students who leave school to participate will be counted absent, and that absence would be unexcused. We would encourage students thinking about participating to talk with their parents about that and for students and parents to make that decision together. Parents and students with questions about the specific consequences of unexcused absences should contact their campus principal or consult the Waco ISD Student Code of Conduct," Waco ISD spokesman Kyle DeBeer said.

The walkout is expected to take place at 10 a.m.

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