LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Students at McCutcheon High School will be participating in a nationwide school walkout and TSC administrators say they are taking a "neutral stance."
In light of the Florida school shooting on Feb. 14, a group of students are planning a peaceful walk-out to remember the 17 students killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Zoe Edwards is a sophomore at McCutcheon. She and her friends are raising their voices about school safety since the Florida shooting.
"There needs to be a change in what's going on so this doesn't happen again," said Edwards.
"I feel safe, yes," said junior Heidi Shisler. "But we all worry. We all are concerned."
Junior Audrey Eros also echoed her friend's statements.
"Saying 'I'm going to stand up for this,' can be risky, But it's now or never."
At 10 a.m. on March 14, the students plan to walk out of class for 17 minutes; one minute for each of the victims who died in the Florida school shooting.
"We are going to go outside or into the gym," said Edwards. "We will have a moment of silence and name the victims one-by-one"
The students gathered statements on why they are participating from many of their other classmates. They hope other Tippecanoe County schools will join them in participating on March 14.
The students want to work with administrators ahead of the walkout. News 18 asked TSC Superintendent Dr. Scott Hanback if the schools would be okay with the walkout and allow the students to participate freely.
"We are taking more of a neutral stance on that," said Hanback. "I don't know if we are necessarily encouraging that, but we want to be engaged and informed. A walkout or a protest can be a safety concern in and of itself."
"Events like these allow for excellent teaching moments for our schools," said Hanback. "Our staff is listening on where the students might be coming from and asking probing questions. 'What law would you be protesting?' 'Are these walkouts in honor or in remembrance of the fallen?'
One of the major issues the students are wanting to address is why the front doors are not locked at their school.
In 17 of the 19 TSC schools, the front door is locked and guests are required to be buzzed into the main entrance by the front office.
That is not the case at Harrison and McCutcheon High Schools. A parent volunteer works a kiosk and helps manage traffic.
"The policy is that all doors are locked except for the main entrance," said Hanback. "Through our upcoming renovation projects, that's something that has been on our radar. Our high schools are coming up to the time where they will be getting some serious renovations."
"You shouldn't be able to just walk in a front door of a school," said Edwards.
Dr. Hanback said he is pleased with the school's efforts to keep students safe and screen guests. He brought up a recent encounter where the district's building and grounds director was at one of the schools and was stopped multiple times because he was unfamiliar.
"Someone questioned who he was and didn't see his badge," said Hanback. "He commented he was very appreciative that someone stopped him and asked what his business was in the school."
Dr. Hanback wants the students to know, he is listening.
"If we listen, we can learn a lot from our students. School safety is a community-wide concern. We cannot do this alone. If kids can't feel safe at school, then their learning is severely inhibited."
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