Like students at schools across the country, students at four of Highland County’s five public schools on Wednesday participated in some form or another in a “walkout” as part of a planned nationwide protest against gun violence.
The walkout was to start at 10 a.m. and last for 17 minutes in observance of the 17 students and staff members who were massacred Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Like schools from coast to coast, four of the five Highland County schools each handled the walkout a little differently.
Lynchburg-Clay’s Brett Justice was the only superintendent in the county that did not return calls seeking comment.
Following is a look at what happened at each of the other four schools, according to the superintendents:
Bright Local – Superintendent Ted Downing said administrators talked with students beforehand to see if they wanted to do anything, but no ideas were offered.
Downing said two junior high girls left the building Wednesday and walked around it a couple times, but came back inside and went to back to class when they were asked.
He said the girls would not face disciplinary action.
“There did not seem to be any major interest to our student body either way, so we just had a normal educational day,” Downing said. “If the kids had wanted to do something and had come to us, we would have worked something out, but that didn’t happen.”
Fairfield – Superintendent Bill Garrett said seven high school students walked outside at 10 a.m. and that a principal went with them. He said the students observed 17 minutes of silence, and that they would not be disciplined.
He said the district did some educational activities in classrooms to the let the students know what happened in Florida and what the Fairfield schools are doing to keep students safe.
“We tried to make it an educational experience for the kids to let them know what’s going on,” Garrett said.
Greenfield – Superintendent Joe Wills said the high school principal started talking with students a couple weeks ago to see if they could come up with ideas about what to do Wednesday. He said it was decided to have a letter writing campaign, and that at 10 a.m. any student that wanted to was allowed to go to the high school gym and write a letter to any elected official, expressing their ideas and opinions on school violence.
Wells said a little more than 60 students reported to the gym.
He said there were some other students who wanted to do their own thing and left their classrooms at 10 a.m., but they ended up going to the gym or back to their classrooms when they were confronted.
Hillsboro – Superintendent Tim Davis said that at 10 a.m. the student council president said a few words to students, and the school observed a moment of silence. He said the senior class president also talked to the students about a public safety forum the school had planned later in the evening.
Davis said that approximately 35 students in grades 6-12 walked out of their classes at 10 a.m. and gathered in front of the high school building. He said they came back in after 17 minutes. He said the names of the students were documented as they re-entered the building.
Hillsboro students had been told before Wednesday that they were not supposed to leave classes at 10 a.m., and that they would be considered to be skipping class and insubordinate if they did.
Davis said Wednesday night that the school was still considering what to do with the students who walked out.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.