Dear Parents, Guardians, and Extended Belmont Community:
Over the past two weeks, our nation, community, and students have been managing a number of emotions following the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Recently, a number of students have reached out to the school administration and faculty, expressing their desire to participate in the National School Walkout on March 14, 2018, at 10 am to recognize the victims of this tragedy.
As school leaders, we have a responsibility to help students understand the balance between effective assembly, speech, and protest and what can be interpreted as civil disobedience and disruption. Given that, all acts of political speech and expression can not infringe upon the rights of others. Students who silently participate in a walkout and then return to class and who treat all of their classmates with respect and dignity may exercise their rights in an acceptable manner. I am happy to share that the student organizers have met with me several times and have organized a thoughtful event while at the same time respect the rights of those wishing not to participate.
In meeting with faculty members, staff and students, it has become clear that the goals of Belmont High School students’ participation in the March 14 walkout is based on the following goals: 1) come together as a community to show our support for each other, our school community and 2) honor the memory of the victims who perished in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy. The student organizers have worked with school administration and teachers to plan a respectful walkout and provide action items for those faculty, staff, and students wishing to participate. Some of the action items include – signing a banner of support of the Florida victims and sending it to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school, providing orange ribbons to wear on March 7, signing letters to our Congressional leaders supporting safer schools, and individual commitments to performing 17 acts of kindness. Students will have the choice to participate as in as much or as little as they wish. Classes will continue during the walkout for those students wishing not to participate, and teachers will remain in their classes and have discretion on how to adjust their lessons. Teachers who do not teach during this time will have the option to support and supervise the student walkout.
To provide the safest environment for the student walkout, I have been working with our school resource officer Melissa O’Connor. As a precaution and to ensure this is an exclusive student event, the access road in front of the school and parking lots will be closed before, during and after the walkout. Once the event is over, these areas will reopen. I would like to thank the Belmont Police and Fire departments for their continued commitment to the safety of our faculty, staff, and student.
I encourage parents and guardians to discuss the day’s activities and lessons learned with your child. This is an opportunity in history for not just our students to learn, but for the adults as well.
Thank you for your support.
Mr. Daniel Richards