CMHS Students Implore Safety at “Walk-in” Vigil

Students at Calais Middle High School participated in a walk-in event on Thursday, March 15th to recognize the 17 fallen students and teachers of the Parkland shooting and to express their concerns about school safety. (Photos courtesy of Sandie Wong)

By Lura Jackson

 

With mass shootings at high schools around the nation becoming increasingly commonplace and threats of violence emerging in local schools – including Calais Middle High School itself – the students of CMHS organized a “walk-in” event to honor the 17 students and teachers killed during the February 14th shooting in Florida and to express their concerns about the need for safety in schools. While originally scheduled for Wednesday, March 14th, the event was held a day later on account of heavy snow closing the school.

The walk-in was intended to be held in concert with nationwide events organized by students, some of which included walk-outs that led to disciplinary action on the part of the school. Rather than staging a walk-out protest, the CHS Student Council and JMG worked with the school to coordinate the walk-in.

During the walk-in, students that wished to participate assembled together in the gymnasium. Those that did not wish to participate were given the option to do so in a separate space. Student Hannah Alley sang “Shine”, a song that was written by the Drama Club of Stoneman Douglas High School in memory of their fallen friends. Leah Calder then read a poem written by a student from Parkland. A period of silence was observed for 17 minutes, one for each victim of the Parkland shooting. Afterwards, students were encouraged to speak about their concerns and to ask questions to the school administration that was present.

“From my perspective, the walk-in went very well,” said student Dylan Carrier. “It was informative for both students and staff in the sense that us students feel our voices were heard and that administration will be working to better secure our school by using concerns from community members, parents, staff, and students.”

While many associate similar student-led events with protests against guns, the walk-in was not meant to specifically challenge guns but rather to focus on the need to review safety protocols and to ensure everything possible is being done to prevent violence on campus. “This walk-in was not meant to be a referendum on guns or any other political stance,” Superintendent Ron Jenkins said. “It was meant to be a beginning to share emotions and move toward solutions that will make our school stronger.”

The school administration and students continue to discuss methods of improving school safety, and everyone is invited to be a part of the conversation. “I would encourage students and parents of our community to attend future school committee meetings to discuss and review local school safety issues,” said school committee member Tom Robb.

Students at Calais Middle High School participated in a walk-in event on Thursday, March 15th to recognize the 17 fallen students and teachers of the Parkland shooting and to express their concerns about school safety. (Photos courtesy of Sandie Wong)