District response to national school walkout

The Schuylerville Central School District had a small group of students participate in the national school walkout on Wednesday, March 14. Overall, 38 high school and two middle school students chose to participate by organizing in the auditorium and vestibule, as part of a student-district arranged plan. A handful of students chose to leave the building to protest.

“It is always encouraging when students have a passion for a cause and see the importance of becoming involved in issues that will impact their future,” said James Ducharme, High School Principal. “However, as a district, we must stand by our Student Code of Conduct to ensure the safety of all of our students and remain consistent in discipline.”

The district made the auditorium and vestibule available to students after a high school student approached administration with the request on Monday, March 12. Students were not prevented or encouraged to participate, but the district did offer a place for students to take part, without the security risk of students leaving the building. High school students who chose to gather in the auditorium took part in a student-led conversation, beginning with a reading of the names of the 17 victims of the Parkland, Florida shooting.

Students who chose to participate will face a consequence for leaving class without an excused note, as per the Student Code of Conduct. The consequence will involve an open roundtable for students and staff to discuss reactions and feelings toward the events at Stoneman Douglas High School and school safety. Students who did not participate in the walkout are also invited to attend. Administrators asked students who will be attending the discussion to generate topics of interest.

The roundtable discussion is just one of several activities Ducharme, along with Middle School Principal Mary Kate Elsworth have organized over the past few weeks in their schools to give students an opportunity to meaningfully show their compassion for what happened in Florida and voice their concerns. Both schools also held a moment of silence on March 14 for the victims of the Florida shooting.

“Our proactive approach has resulted in great discussions between students and staff about safety and security and has opened the doors for future talks,” said Elsworth. “We want to support our students as they find ways to voice their concerns, but we also must do our part to ensure their safety while they are in our care.”

The district plans to continue holding roundtable discussions for the remainder of the school year.