ROCHELLE — Rochelle Township High School students began their Monday with notes of encouragement posted on lockers and outside the classrooms.
Each day this week students will have the opportunity to participate in activities that spread positivity and kindness, and at the same time honoring the lives lost in the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting.
Following Monday’s sprinkling of Post-It notes around the school, Tuesday students will sport unity bracelets and on Wednesday students are encouraged to wear red, the color signifying Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. They are also encouraged to talk to, smile at, or make friends with 17 people — representing the number of lives taken.
Thursday brings positive social media posts and Hand-in-Hand prints while Friday everyone is encouraged to wear the RTHS school colors and perform random acts of kindness as part of “One Hub, One Family day.”
The “Week of Us,” is an alternative to the nationwide call for high school students and teachers across the country to walk out of classes on Wednesday, March 14 — a movement sparked by the recent school violence.
In a statement released Monday, RTHS Supt. Jason Harper said that while “our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and families of recent school shootings, we believe a student walk out creates both a substantial disruption to the learning environment and creates a safety and security risk for students.”
Organizers Teddi Hacaga and Sarena Abdallah said the weeklong event is meant to demonstrate the power of coming together.
“Although we focus on unity for a week, we hope these activities will continue past March 16,” Hacaga said.
Abdallah added, “Alone we can only do so little. Together we can do so much.”
Superintendents put out message to parents, community
Jason Harper, RTHS:
There is a national social media movement underway for students and staff to protest the most recent school violence and push for increased gun control. There are a few events scheduled over the next couple of months, including March 14 and April 20. Organizers are asking students and teachers to walk out of the classroom for an extended period of time.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and families of recent school shootings; however, we believe a student walk out creates both a substantial disruption to the learning environment and creates a safety and security risk for students. RTHS will stay safe and focused on learning by remaining in school. We will not participate in the national walk out protests. Students and teachers who participate in such a walk out will receive appropriate consequences for the situation.
At the same time, the RTHS administration wants students to know their voices are heard and should feel empowered to help create meaningful change. The RTHS administration has provided students with the opportunity to plan an entire week of activities as part of the “Week of Us” initiative led by students. Please take a few minutes to see the WTVO Channel 17 news story from last Friday afternoon.
RTHS has dedicated an entire week to honoring lives lost due to violence and to bettering our own school climate.
As always, our goal is to provide a welcoming learning environment while keeping our students and staff safe and secure. We are proud of the ongoing efforts to keep a safe learning environment and we appreciate everyone’s partnership in making this a reality.
If you have any questions or concerns about this, please contact the school at 815-562-4161.
Todd Prusator, elementary district:
For March 14 there has been organized a national school walkout by the Woman’s March’s EMPOWER group. The walkout is scheduled for 10 a.m. on March 14. This walkout supports changes in gun control.
Since this is a politically based activity, the district does not take a specific stand on the issue itself. The district does not support or endorse student or teacher walkouts for any political or personal reasons as it creates a disruption to the educational process. This applies even if the student has parental permission to walk out.
Therefore any student or teacher that engages in a walkout will receive a disciplinary consequence for walking out as it will cause a disruption to the educational environment and established procedures.
The district understands that people may have different views on this topic and respect the right for people to have positions on each side of the issue. If any student wishes to actively participate in a personal or organized position, the student should discuss with the building principal their intent and anticipated actions to fully understand what is acceptable and consider options to voice personal positions that would not violate school procedures or result in disciplinary consequences.
If you have any questions, call 815-562-6363