Ottawa and Streator high schools have set up their plans for National School Walkout demonstrations Wednesday, March 14.
On that day, which is one month after the Parkland, Fla, school shooting, students across the country will take part in a walkout for 17 minutes to remember the 17 people killed.
Ottawa Assistant Principal Jeff DeWalt said administrators worked with three student leadership groups — Student Council, Character Counts and doChange Peer Mentors — to come up with a meaningful demonstration. The groups decided on a "walk-in."
"We're having it for two reasons: a little more organization and safety," DeWalt said. "Also we want students to know they are responsible for the safety of the building. They are the eyes and ears of the building and if they see or hear something unusual they have a responsibility to report it."
Orange and red ribbons will be distributed at the demonstration, orange for the movement and red for Ottawa's school color, along with a card with phone numbers and emails so students can report threats without having to come into the school's office.
The program will include a short video presentation, a moment of silence, a reading of the names of the 17 people killed in the shooting and short speeches by some students.
The demonstration will occur during homeroom around 10 a.m. in Kingman Gym.
"I think it's really going to take off here," DeWalt said. "We have some students working on a video and posters to distribute on social media. We're really thinking this is going to turn into a really big deal. We've really tried to give students ownership of this."
Streator encourages 'walk up'
Students will be given the opportunity to walk out between 10 and 10:17 a.m. Wednesday, March 14, according to a letter issued by Matt Seaton, Streator High School superintendent. Security will be provided for the demonstration and school officials will determine the final location for the walkout.
"Any student who chooses to participate in this walkout will not be subject to attendance or discipline violations," Seaton said in his letter. "However, if you do not report to the designated location, or leave earlier than 10 or are out of class longer than the 17 minutes, please understand that the discipline and attendance policies will be enforced."
Seaton suggested a "walk up" project as another possibility "to show support for safe schools."
"Take time to 'walk up' to others who sit alone at lunch or quietly by themselves and say 'hi' and ask how they are doing," Seaton said. "Take some time to 'walk up' to others and show kindness. You may be surprised at the reaction you receive and what you may have in common with those whom with you normally do not speak."