Harrison will offer students support

CADIZ — Nearly a month after a devastating school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, students nationwide are working to help find a solution that will stop gun violence. On Wednesday, students are planning walkouts across the country in remembrance of the attack, and one local district said Tuesday it supports its students if they decide to participate.

Ken Parker, principal at Harrison Hills High School, said though there hasn’t been a lot of interest expressed in participating in the larger walkout, they support students who might choose to participate.

He said one student talked to him about the possibility of a walkout, but there hasn’t been too much talk about it in the student body. He did say that he has talked with teachers in the building, and has discussed making he demonstration a teachable moment if more students plan on participating.

“We wouldn’t force anyone to do it, but if someone wanted to, we’re receptive to it,” Parker said, noting that it is hard to plan for the possibility when officials don’t know how many students might plan on walking out. He added that if more students did participate, teachers would work with them to make it a learning experience and a positive experience. He said that he didn’t foresee the walkout being a problem as long as students participating stayed on school property, and observed the reason for the walkout in a respectful manner.

“We’re all in agreement that we need some kind of control,” Parker said. “It should be a positive experience, it’s kids banding together in solidarity.”

The walkout is planned to take place in schools nationwide from 10 a.m. until 10:17 a.m. on Wednesday, in memory of the 17 students who lost their lives in the attack on Stoneman Douglas High School.

In Belmont County, Union Local Superintendent Ben Porter said Tuesday that he knew of no plans among students to participate in the national walkout. At River High School, staff there said there are no plans to do a walk-out on Wednesday for gun violence.

Students across the nation have been participating in demonstrations, trying to get lawmakers to take action on gun control on local, state and national levels. But the first large-scale, coordinated national demonstration is planned for Wednesday when organizers of the Women’s March have called for a 17-minute walkout, one minute for each of the 17 students and staff members killed in Florida.

The announcement has left some middle and high schools across the country scrambling to figure out how they would respond if their students chose to participate.

In Needville, Texas, near Houston, Superintendent Curtis Rhodes was castigated on social media after he warned that students who leave class would be suspended for three days, even if they get parental permission.“SHAME, SHAME, SHAME ON YOU,” wrote one woman. In Garretson, South Dakota, administrators canceled a student walkout planned for April 20 after a Facebook posting about the plan drew more than 300 negative comments from adults. And in Arizona, dozens of students at Ingleside Middle School, near Phoenix, were given one-day suspensions after they left campus on Feb. 27.

Staff Writers Robert DeFrank and Miranda Sebroski contributed to this report.