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Mar 6, 2018 2:13 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East End Schools Plan For March 14 Walkout

Eastport South Manor Junior Senior High School. VALERIE GORDON
Mar 6, 2018 4:43 PM

Hundreds of students attending several East End schools are expected to participate in a nationwide walkout during classes on the morning of Wednesday, March 14, to honor the victims of last month’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Students are planning to leave their classrooms at 10 a.m. and stand outside for 17 minutes—one minute for each of the 17 victims of the Valentine’s Day shooting.

In addition to honoring the deceased, the nationwide event is intended to pressure Congress to pass stricter gun legislation.

“Living in East Hampton, it can sometimes feel like we live in a bubble and it’s difficult to see what’s going on around us,” said Nina Gonzalez, a senior at East Hampton High School who intends to join many of her classmates at next week’s walkout, set to take place on the school’s turf field. “But just because we’re not of voting age doesn’t mean our voices can’t be heard.”

“It’s about honoring the people whose lives were lost,” added Angelina Zingariello, a senior at Eastport South Manor Junior-Senior High School, who said she intends to participate in the event on March 14. She and two of her classmates are also now selling silicone wristbands for $3 each that pay tribute to the shooting victims; proceeds will later be donated to the families of the victims, who included 14 students.

“Congress [needs] to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools,” according to The Action Network, an event organization website urging East Hampton High School students to participate in next week’s walkout. “We are not safe at school. We need action.”

In an email response on Monday, East Hampton Superintendent Richard Burns said his district’s Board of Education was scheduled to discuss the walkout at their meeting on the evening of Tuesday, March 6. He then declined to offer any additional information.

The Parkland shooting marked the 30th mass shooting in 2018, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, which tracks shootings in the United States. It is also the worst school shooting since 26 people—20 first-graders and six adults—were murdered in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012.

After learning of the scheduled walkout, many East End school district representatives said they will support students’ right to free speech and protest—and are even working with students to organize the events.

Southampton Schools Superintendent Dr. Nicholas Dyno said he wants to allow students to express themselves in a respectful and organized manner. He said he has been in contact with members of student government and wants them to come up with a formal plan for next week’s walkout.

At the same time, Dr. Dyno warned that those students who break away from the walkout and protest in other ways could face possible punishment if they create a scene.

Eastport South Manor officials are taking a similar approach, according to ESM’s public relations advisor, Sean Rayburn. He said district administrators are working with the student advisory council, who are in charge of facilitating the walkout in an orderly fashion, to not disturb any students who wish to be excluded.

Mr. Rayburn explained that the walkout could last longer than 17 minutes, as students plan to walk around the high school’s track in honor the of the Parkland shooting victims.

He also stated that no disciplinary action would be taken against the students interested in participating in the organized event.

“As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, allowing the students time to express empathy and connection to their peers in Florida, simply taking the time to notice one another. I think it sends a very powerful message to the community,” Eastport South Manor Superintendent Dr. Patrick Brimstein said on Monday. “We really want to help the students understand that we can make a difference.”

In Hampton Bays, Schools Superintendent Lars Clemensen said on Tuesday that administrators are using the upcoming walkout as a “teachable moment,” adding that students will have multiple options on March 14. He explained that they can participate in the 17-minute walkout, write letters to elected officials or students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, or remain in class.

“I don’t see my students as looking for 17 minutes to get out of class—I give them much more credit then that,” Mr. Clemensen said. “The kids see themselves in those kids in Parkland.”

He did note, however, that students who opt to stray from any of the organized events could face potential punishment.

Other school officials said this week that they had not yet decided if they will punish those students who participate. Those students who walk out of class could have an unexcused absence put on their permanent record, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Currently, our principals are meeting with student government representatives to come up with a way to give students a productive outlet that is least disruptive to the school day as possible,” Westhampton Beach Schools Superintendent Michael Radday said on Tuesday.

Still, he declined to say if those students would be punished or not. “There are no final plans yet,” Mr. Radday said.

Fifth through eighth grade students at Springs School in East Hampton have also been working with administrators to coordinate an organized event to honor the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting, according to Superintendent Debra Winter. She noted that at 10 a.m. on March 14, her students will plant daffodils in the School Street school’s courtyard in remembrance. She noted that the event will not be open to public.

Jeff Nichols, principal of the Pierson Middle/High School in Sag Harbor, said he met with members of the district’s student council last week to discuss how students could participate in the walkout—if they so choose. He added that those discussions were set to resume later this week, while also noting that the district could hold some sort of event in the auditorium on the same day.

Michael Miller, principal of Bridgehampton School, told members of his district’s Board of Education last week that he is aware of a planned walkout, adding that students who want to participate will not face disciplinary action. At the same time, he is encouraging his students to participate in a separate planned memorial that is supposed to honor the victims of the Florida school shooting.

Others in the community, such as Alex Kamp of Hampton Bays, do not agree with the walkout.

Mr. Kamp, a gun advocate who says his son will be attending the Eastport South Manor Junior-Senior High School in the fall, also said he thinks all schools should have armed guards in them.

It’s “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard [of],” Mr. Kamp said on Monday, after learning about the upcoming walkout. “You [want to] stop this type of shooting? Put trained, armed guards in schools.

“Everyone blames guns for these shootings,” he continued. “I’ve never heard of a drunk driving accident blamed on the car—the driver is blamed. I’ve never heard a terrorist bombing blamed on the bomb—the terrorist is blamed. But for some reason, [Nikolas Jacob] Cruz shoots up a school, and nobody blames him—it was the gun. Makes absolutely no sense.”

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I hope they allow adults to walk with them.
By tenn tom (199), remsenburg on Mar 7, 18 7:46 AM
"After learning of the scheduled walkout, many East End school district representatives said they will support students’ right to free speech and protest"

Which raises the question: when does civil disobedience become civil obedience?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (3867), HAMPTON BAYS on Mar 7, 18 8:03 AM
no it does not raise this question.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (554), southampton on Mar 7, 18 9:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
Let's talk about it Soup.

Isn't a school walkout supposed to be a form of civil disobedience? In other words, a refusal to conform to the rules with the intent of bringing attention and promoting change?

If it's a demonstration in cooperation with the administration and within the rules they outline it certainly isn't civil disobedience.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (3867), HAMPTON BAYS on Mar 7, 18 9:46 AM
1 member liked this comment
Not a protest, walkout, just HONOR the victims. Do it nice, peaceful and organized.
Mental health is the problem, do worry about the labels...
By knitter (1434), Southampton on Mar 7, 18 9:40 AM
#TimesUp for the NRA and the GOP
By johnj (877), Westhampton on Mar 7, 18 10:01 AM
2 members liked this comment
Honor the victims in a walk AFTER school. DO NOT turn this into a political forum for gun control using children. Society is split enough over politics - now you want to split our children too? How do you think the kids feel who do not agree with the anti-gun propoganda tha the school administrations are allowing. ON MY TAX DOLLARS !!!!!
By Taz (478), East Quogue on Mar 7, 18 10:13 AM
1 member liked this comment
I'm also resistant to the idea that administrators should condone this action, even in a downsized format that does not disturb any students who wish to be excluded.

An endorsement by the administration essentially promotes the students' underlying protest and pressures their less-receptive peers into conforming.

The students who want to walkout for whatever reasons they choose should bear the consequences of their actions.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (3867), HAMPTON BAYS on Mar 7, 18 10:26 AM
4 members liked this comment
It is the students who are organizing this action and no one is being forced to participate.
By tenn tom (199), remsenburg on Mar 7, 18 2:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
This is politically motivated and should not be done during school hours. A quote from article above:
“Congress [needs] to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools,” according to The Action Network, an event organization website urging East Hampton High School students to participate in next week’s walkout. “We are not safe at school. We need action.”
See cmac comment below!
By Taz (478), East Quogue on Mar 7, 18 3:03 PM
This entire article is about how the schools are preparing for the walkout. The simple answer is "by coordinating with the students."

No one will be forced to participate, but the school administrators are cooperating with and planning to accommodate the students who choose to demonstrate.

Are the protests asking for Congress to act in general, or for Congress to act in a particular way? I wonder if the schools will enforce a "content-neutral protest" policy or open themselves ...more
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (3867), HAMPTON BAYS on Mar 7, 18 3:04 PM
Let the students who want to demonstrate do it on their own time, not on school time paid for by my tax dollars. Then those who don't want to participate can go home. We all know kids will go out to get out of class time - and the attendance will make it appear more populat than it is. POLITICAL. "Tweet thoughts" Really????
By Taz (478), East Quogue on Mar 7, 18 3:12 PM
Nothing political about not wanting to die.
By johnj (877), Westhampton on Mar 7, 18 3:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
That's a gross over-simplification, John. You are well aware that the political issue is how do we achieve not dying while still protecting 2nd amendment rights.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (3867), HAMPTON BAYS on Mar 7, 18 3:56 PM
I don't think the kids (not to mention the staff and faculty) whose lives are at stake give a rat's behind about the 2nd amendment tbh.
By johnj (877), Westhampton on Mar 8, 18 10:06 AM
1 member liked this comment
Coincidentally, many of them do. The Parkland students as a group in particular have sought to separate the political question of gun control from their preeminent and existential concern about school safety.

I understand that's a lot of nuance to swallow, but it's easy if you chew.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (3867), HAMPTON BAYS on Mar 8, 18 10:12 AM
According to NYSSBA (New York State School Boards Association) legal, it would be ill advised for school districts to support this walkout as “school districts have no express authority to engage in political activities.”

Also, “school districts must apply their policies in a neutral manner and should not risk being charged with engaging in acts of viewpoint discrimination related to their imposing discipline on students in the future who may wish to support some other ...more
By cmac (141), East Quogue on Mar 7, 18 10:40 AM
One wonders if a pro-gun student-led protest to honor the Parkland victims and to ask for gun-free school zones to be repealed would be similarly received by administration.
Mar 7, 18 11:30 AM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
It should be noted that we're speaking in general terms. The administrations at ESM, EH, HB and SH did not necessarily have the same reactions or degree of support.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (3867), HAMPTON BAYS on Mar 7, 18 11:30 AM
2 members liked this comment
Fortunately these free thinking kids appear to care more about honoring their peers who were murdered by an individual wielding and AR-15 than getting detention, your politics, or the NYSBA.

Go Kids!
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (554), southampton on Mar 7, 18 4:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yes, do it during school hours, otherwise it would interfere with after school activities - we wouldn't want the kids to miss band practice.
By HB Proud (870), Hampton Bays on Mar 7, 18 4:48 PM
The national walk-out organizers have clearly stated that their goal is to draw attention to the lack of common sense gun laws, and the inaction of politicians to protect children in this country. Local students either don't understand this or have chosen to walk-out for their own reasons.
Mr. Kamp's statements are typical of the modern day NRA.
“I’ve never heard of a drunk driving accident blamed on the car—the driver is blamed. I’ve never heard a terrorist bombing ...more
By Arnold Timer (302), Sag Harbor on Mar 7, 18 6:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
These poor kids parroting hollow platitudes and empty rhetoric. They are so brainwashed by liberal ignorance they don’t even know what they are protesting or why they are participating.
By localEH (317), East Hampton on Mar 7, 18 10:45 PM
And this is where the administration opens themselves up to criticism.

Instead of the kids engaging in civil disobedience they're going along with the school-coordinated activity which cheapens the whole walkout, if it can even be called that.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (3867), HAMPTON BAYS on Mar 7, 18 10:51 PM
"liberal ignorance". Now that's a good one
By johnj (877), Westhampton on Mar 8, 18 3:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
This is why my children now go to private school; East Hampton is a joke.
By Preliator Lives (294), Obamavillie on Mar 8, 18 8:18 AM
1 member liked this comment
It's a troubling idea.

While I have not doubt that the students are genuinely upset, and have turned to to the walkout demonstration as the means of most effectively expressing their concern, it's still mob behavior. Would the administrations cooperate with SMALLER groups of students (protesting, for example, inaction on DREAMERS, wind farms, sexual battery)?

Clearly, the administrations are trying to finesse the situation because it's going to happen anyway, no matter what ...more
By highhatsize (3699), East Quogue on Mar 8, 18 9:14 AM
2 members liked this comment
I think schools who don't change any policies outwardly but exercise leniency internally will have the smoothest sailing.

In any event, universities left and right are telling their applicants that participation in these walkouts will not be held against them by admissions.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (3867), HAMPTON BAYS on Mar 8, 18 9:19 AM
What right universities????
By Taz (478), East Quogue on Mar 8, 18 10:58 AM
Lower-case right. As in, the direction.

Although after some quick reading, universities in conservative-leaning states like Missouri, Wisconsin, and Kentuky have signed on, not that I think you'd necessarily describe them as "conservative."
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (3867), HAMPTON BAYS on Mar 8, 18 11:04 AM
SHS doesn't punish any students, they sweep it under the rug. You never hear what happens...
Peaceful gathering to honor the 17.
By knitter (1434), Southampton on Mar 9, 18 10:36 AM
The school administration must put on their big boy pants and deal with these issues with courage. Instead, they cowardly cater to student’s political agendas. If students gets hurt as a result of the walk out rally, it will come back to haunt the administration for not taking action to prevent it.
By pigroast (66), East Quogue on Mar 9, 18 10:55 AM
In 2018 is a student more likely to get hurt participating in a peaceful protest or by an active shooter I ask you? Take all the time you need to answer.
By johnj (877), Westhampton on Mar 9, 18 1:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
Much more likely to be killed by alcohol. Let's ban it. Oh yeah, that works.
By dnice (2340), Hampton Bays on Mar 12, 18 7:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
Or, you know, raise the legal age, like they did with alcohol. It saved lives. It's a fact. Google it.
By johnj (877), Westhampton on Mar 16, 18 9:51 AM
1 member liked this comment
It would be enlightening if the Press had a reporter there during the walkout to interview the students and ask each interviewee to specifically explain what they are walking about, no talking points but an in depth explanation. Could they articulate their rationale for their behavior?
By bigfresh (3674), north sea on Mar 12, 18 7:45 PM
Very proud of these kids for standing up against the Republican death machine.
By johnj (877), Westhampton on Mar 14, 18 9:20 AM
Hampton Bays Rotary, Autumn Evening by the Sea, Joyce Oakland, Oaklands Restaurant