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Meridian students walk out

Corryn Brock, Reporter

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Eighteen Meridian High School students walked out of the school building at 10:00 a.m. on March 14, to the baseball field to honor the lives lost during the February 14 Parkland shooting.

Christine Cutler
Walkout 2018. Students gather on the baseball field after walking out of their 3rd hour class to honor the lives lost in the Feb. 14 Parkland shooting. Sophomore, Madeline Klinger says honoring those who were killed is important because “we go to school too and there is always a possibility of that happening to us. We would want to be remembered too.”

The idea of the National School Walkout came after the Feb 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Schools from all over the country participated in several ways, with various consequences. The Meridian Walkout went from 10:00 a.m. to 10:17, one minute for each of the lives lost during the Feb. 14 shooting. Senior Jake Deetz says, “These poor kids lost their lives and it’s only fair that we honor and show respect in this way.”

Students walked out of their classrooms and were directed to the baseball field by principal Mr. Hurelbrink (who had sent a letter to parents/students the night before), Superintendent Brue, and an officer from the Macon County Sheriff’s Office. Deetz says, “I decided to walk out because this was the final straw for me. I hate going to school worrying if I’ll survive or if I may be put in a dangerous situation.”

Hurelbrink assures safety is a top priority at Meridian, “Our district has, and continues to, review, revise, and implement safety precautions for the protection of students and staff.” He adds, “Never do we want students, teachers, and support staff to feel our school is not a safe place for them.

The students were met on the field by a concerned community member, Christine Cutler.  She says she felt compelled to join the students because “they needed moral support for being brave.” Deetz read the names of those who died in Parkland, the group had a moment of silence and ended with a prayer led by Meridian freshman Crystal Sheumaker.

In the statement released by Hurelbrink and Brue, they explain that no student would be kept from participating but they would need to “maintain a safe and orderly school.”  Students who participated in the walkout received an unexcused absence, following the guidelines set forth in the Meridian High School Handbook, which states, “Unexcused absences or tardies (even with parental consent) occur when a student is absent without a valid reason. Missing school due to reasons considered avoidable (examples include, but are not limited to, oversleeping, babysitting, skip days, etc)…Students who are tardy are not afforded the opportunity to make up any work missed or turned in, for a grade.” This applied only to the seventeen minutes that students were out of the building.

Seniors who participated will bypass their chance to not take finals this spring, again in accordance with school policy. “Any unexcused absence, regardless of the length, will disqualify a student from this [senior finals] exemption.” The senior finals exemption is customarily offered to seniors who maintain a “B” academic average for the semester in the class and meet the attendance criteria of not missing more than three days in the semester.

Deetz claims, “I accepted the punishment because this is something important, and to me, taking the finals is worth honoring these kids who tragically lost their lives.”

Hurelbrink concludes, “Today, more than ever, our responsibility as school administrators to protect and safeguard our students is of the highest concern.  Safety for all is something we put a premium on and we will continue to be proactive in our approach.”

 

 

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Meridian students walk out