MRH students, staff to protest Parkland shooting, joining nationwide walkout

Students and staff in the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, on March 14, are planning response to the school shooting in Parkland, FL. Karen Hall explained in a post to the MRH community on Wednesday.

Hall said no MRH student who exercises the constitutional right to peacefully participate will be reprimanded or made to fear retribution. “Dissent, dialogue, and debate are critical. What better way to inspire and prepare our students as tomorrow’s leaders, scholars, stewards and citizens?” she said.

Schools nationwide are planning walkouts on Wednesday, March 14, at 10 a.m. local time, and last for 17 minutes to honor the lives of the 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Hall’s letter to the MRH community:

MRH Letter to the Community; Parkland Demonstrations

To our students, families, and community partners,

On Valentine’s Day of this year, fear and anxiety once again welled up in the hearts of millions of Americans when a rampaging gunman massacred 17 people, mostly students, at a school in Parkland, Florida.

With that atrocity still fresh on our minds, MRH wants to assure families that our children’s physical and emotional safety is our top priority. We have plans in place at each of our schools to handle emergencies. We work with the Maplewood and Richmond Heights Police and Fire Departments, as well as private crisis response experts, to prepare and practice our safety procedures with students and staff. We ask only that our families listen and respond to their children’s concerns about school safety, as we all strive to allay the fear that would otherwise paralyze us into a state of inaction.

We have arrived at a moment when MRH staff and students alike are moved to protest publicly and loudly to bring about change. Capturing the attention of change agents — such as lawmakers and judges — often demands public displays of outrage. This is why we must not foster a system whereby students are afraid to walk out of their school buildings, link arms, and project their messages loudly and clearly. No MRH student who exercises the constitutional right to peacefully participate in this type of speech will be reprimanded or made to fear retribution. Dissent, dialogue, and debate are critical. What better way to inspire and prepare our students as tomorrow’s leaders, scholars, stewards and citizens?

MRH students across all grade levels will make their statements in a variety of ways on the morning of March 14:

  • At the Elementary School, students will be supplied with a permission slip which ensures that each student who chooses to walk out of class has first had a discussion with family members about the issues surrounding safety in schools. Staff members will ensure the students’ safety both indoors and outdoors during the walkout.
  • At MRH High and Middle Schools, the district is offering students the option to participate and demonstrate their support for the lives lost as well as recognizing the importance of school safety. This is not a pro- or anti-gun rally. So far, we have had two student-led planning meetings in recent weeks and we will have follow-up meetings on Monday and Tuesday.
  • At our Early Childhood Center, where a wholesale walkout would be neither safe nor age-appropriate, students and staff will engage in acts of kindness, an all-school project that takes time and makes space to take care of one other.  ECC has decided to move its event to Friday, March 16th. In the morning they are going to celebrate their learning community through reading together. Second-grade classes are paired with a preschool home space and 1st grade is paired with kindergarten.  In the afternoon, they are going to end the day with a Kindness March.

Please remember that our first responsibility is student supervision and safety. We want to make clear that any student who leaves campus without permission may face consequences. Likewise, any members of the public who come onto campus without permission to join the protests will be asked to leave and perhaps removed by law enforcement.

Thank you,
Karen I. Hall, Superintendent, Maplewood Richmond Heights School District

71 thoughts on “MRH students, staff to protest Parkland shooting, joining nationwide walkout

  1. The MRH statement says: “This is not a pro- or anti-gun rally.”

    Yet the STLToday article today about the protests say they are organized by the Women’s March which is demanding tighter gun control. Which is it?

    “The coordinated school walkouts were loosely organized by Empower, the youth wing of the Women’s March, which brought thousands to Washington, D.C., last year.

    The group urged students to leave class at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes — one for each victim of the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School— and gave students suggestions of demands to lawmakers for tighter gun control. “

    • I guess I would go with the primary source, which is the school district. I attended the walk out. It was exactly as the district said it would be. The focus was on school safety. If individual students want to take action for or against gun control at a later date, that’s their choice and it has nothing to do with what happened this morning. You are looking for a conspiracy and using a broad media report to support your supposition. There’s nothing to see here. It was exactly what they said it would be, and I’m proud of both the kids who organized the event and those who supported it.

      • For that matter, I’m also proud of the kids who stayed in school and chose not to participate. This was an exercise in Democracy. I actually heard Mr. Dittrich, the middle school principal quietly say to two girls who came outside but were hesitant, “It’s your voice, your choice. You decide.” They didn’t go onto the field, and he clearly had no issue with it.

      • That’s why I did go to the primary source and contacted the school district. I was told there was no association with “Empower” and that STLToday was incorrect. I did not look for conspiracy. I saw a discrepancy and pointed it out. I also called to clarify the discrepancy. Not everyone who points out an obvious discrepancy is a conspiracy theorist…just well read.

        • PB, your 11:10 post, which I was responding to, doesn’t say that. You posted two statements that are in conflict and asked, “Which is it?” I answered you. I’m happy that you are clear on all of this now. Have a great evening.

      • Sorry, but this is “bait-and-switch” reasoning. National organizers for the event expressly state this walkout is about influencing policy makers on gun control. While Karen Hall’s letter is vague, it is clearly a “call to action.” You are attempting to minimize objections by selling “peace” to parents, then maximize impact by pushing “gun control” to policy makers and the media.

        • Your side has always said gun control is having good aim with your gun, so how could you object to something like that?

  2. I just attended the middle school/high school walk out. The student organizers created a very meaningful program. Those who wanted them were given orange ribbons to wear. Some students were handed photos and biographies of the students who were murdered in Parkland. There were 17 empty chairs to honor the dead.

    One of the reasons for public education is to ensure that our country has a electorate that’s educated enough to participate in Democracy and to make an informed vote. I’d give this effort an A+. For those who felt this was political, gun laws were not mentioned. Students who wished to remain inside were respected. No one was forced to participate in the program. This was about honoring slain students and asking that there be no more to mourn.

    • Interested to know how you characterize Krazy Karen’s alarmist call-to-arms as “not political.” How do you suppose a reasonable person is to interpret the following:
      “We have arrived at a moment when MRH staff and students alike are moved to protest publicly and loudly to bring about change. Capturing the attention of change agents — such as lawmakers and judges — often demands public displays of outrage. This is why we must not foster a system whereby students are afraid to walk out of their school buildings, link arms, and project their messages loudly and clearly.”

      • She Kray, If you had ever spent even 5 seconds in the presence of Dr. Hall, you would realize that your gross mischaracterization of her motivations only demonstrates your ignorance of the issue at hand and of the professionals who work in the MRH school district. She is a highly educated and accomplished educator who truly cares about the children in her district. I applaud MRH for creating an environment in which the kids could express themselves with maturity and respect for each other. I would get upset with you about this, but you are obviously just a troll with a keyboard in a van down by the river.

        • Get as upset as you need to; I notice you didn’t address my question though. And what do you have against people living in vans down by the river; are you some sort of elitist that hates the homeless and mentally ill?

  3. South 40, as a student at MRH, I find the title of this article “MRH students, staff to protest Parkland shooting” to be wrong. This WALKOUT is not a protest. We are not trying to make this at all a political statement. We respect everyone’s right to free speech and as a student here, I will be walking out. I am walking out because I want the place I go to 5 days a week, to be safe. And I, as a student, get that right. I also want to memorialize the 17 students and staff in Parkland FL who no longer have the option to speak their voice.

    • Sorry Emma if we have it wrong but according to Karen Hall, the Superintendent, it is a protest and demonstration as stated in her letter to the community. You may be doing it for a different purpose, but it was started by several political organizations as a political protest. I do have a serious question for you and that is, do you not feel safe at MRH? If so why and what can be changed to make you feel safer? Just wanting to get a students view on the safety at MRH. Thanks.

      • Mike, thank you for the question. I do feel safe at MRH. But there still are some room for improvement. Like how if an intruder comes into the building, we are taught to stay down, hide and be quiet. But, that is not the best option in my opinion. More than 1,000 people have been killed due to mass shootings since August 1st, 1966. With this news, I as a student at MRH, do not know what to do in the situation of a shooter coming into the room. I think we, as a school, should be more informed and more aware about what to do in that situation. I also think, that a simple solution can be done very easily is to lock all the doors in the classrooms. The doors would be locked from the outside but not on the inside. This way students can still function in their school environment. This can save time and lives.

        • Thanks for the reply and the good points you have. Maybe you students should all make your concerns know to the administration so they can address them. Maybe the students should have a “walk-in” at a school board meeting or the admin building and demand action on your concerns instead of the walkout that doesn’t let your concerns be heard but pushes someone else’s agenda. Thanks again for you reply and concerns.

  4. Clearly this strikes a deep cord with many people – myself included. I am NOT in support of this event and would be happy to share my reasons why with anyone over beer. However, if you are passionate about this event I would encourage you to do the following things. 1) Take a deep a breath – we need civility in these issues. All of us love our kids and community. Name calling, baiting, and knee jerk reactions will not make our community better for anyone. 2) Find someone who agrees with you and discuss the matter as emotionally as you need to 3) Find someone who disagrees with you and have an honest and respectful conversation. 4) Respectfully reach out to your school board, principle, superintendent, etc. and talk, then listen. These people have a lot of responsibility and pressure. I don’t agree with them all the time, but I do support the fact that they are sacrificing and serving our community. If none of the above help. Get engage. Become a leader in the MRH community (there are PLENTY of opportunities).

    • Dear Mr. Terelmes, I would love to discuss this over a beer with you. I truly enjoy a good cold beer combined with a great discussion with a sane, logical human being. I think we might all find your statement, “All of us love our kids and community” to be a true one; and a good starting point for a discussion. Thank you for your comments.

      • Patty-Let’s do it! I’ll be at the Muddled Pig Wednesday 3/21 at 8PM. I’m ok with others joining as well if you don’t mind. As long as it’s not too many people and, of course, everyone is respectful. I’ll be at the bar…with a red flower in my lapel (ha-just kidding). Look forward to it!

        • Mr Terelmes, I will try and make it as well on 3/21. Wednesday’s are usually tough. Arguing online has no value. Let’s create a inviting environment in which to discuss.

          • With all due respect, the time of middle-aged folks like us solving the world’s problems over a beer at the pub are over. Instead of being upset over the kids protesting, we should be upset that they feel the need to protest at all. Our kids are fed up with being murdered in their schools and on the streets, and those in charge have utterly failed them. The time of the political dinosaurs is coming to an end. We are entering a new political age of action, not talk. The interviews I saw with the high schoolers yesterday during the demonstrations showed a level of thoughtfulness and maturity that should shame every adult in elected office. Enjoy your pints, but they are as irrelevant as a middle-aged white guy with an opinion.

  5. Good lord. Reading some of the comments here has given me a better understanding of the beginnings of some of the violence in our society. It’s sickening.

  6. Nothing but political motivated.
    Why did my superintendent Karen Hall lie to me?

    We demand that Congress enact an immediate resolution declaring gun violence a public health crisis and dedicating federal funding to research solutions and implement violence intervention programs. We demand Congress recognize all forms of gun violence, including violence committed by police.


    Banning Assault Weapons & High Capacity Magazines / S. 2095

    Expanding Background Checks to All Gun Sales / S 2009

    Passing Gun Violence Restraining Order Law / H.R. 2598 / S. 1212

    Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act / S.1856 / H.R. 1556

  7. Well said mike: If the school was truly concerned about school safety they wouldn’t just let me in, open the door, during school hours without asking me over the speaker who I am and what I need.
    Until proven otherwise I do believe this is organized by the Democratic Party , it is a political statement, using elementary kids as pawns for their agenda, a current Stab at the local govt, 2nd admendment right, & the NRA. For most it’s just fun and games and as far as I’m concerned it’s just teaching the kids to hop on the newest trend as a way to get out of responsibilities. I do see it as teachers using our elementary kids to make their statement and I am not ok with it at all. I do think people should take this more serious.

    • This event is organized by the women’s march organizers, Brady campaign, planned parenthood, every town for gun safety funded by Michael Bloomberg- for the love of God people do some research. Vox, times, USA Today. It took me five minutes to find that info out and I’m in the middle of the freaking ocean. As far as I’m concerned the mrh education system just lied to me.

      • Women’s March organizers, who are setting up the school walkout, said in a statement. “Parents have the …..
        Both the events will focus on calling Congress to act on gun violence.

    • I am one of the students who walked out. One of the youngest actually, I am 14. The same age as 7 of the victims. I was not making a political statement, simply showing some respect for people who died. I was not being a pawn, I was making my own choice for my own reasons. I am glad I had the chance to mourn and honor the lives lost surrounded by the people of my community who care about me. I am very lucky to live where I live and to go to the school that I go to.

  8. Thank you MRH for using my tax dollars to not only teach my children, but demonstrate the appropriate way to make a statement about school safety (or to choose not too). This a critical part of our political system – we must be able stand up and say we want better or that we disagree without fear of retribution. The idea is simple: I protest or demonstrate for something I believe in (school safety, women’s rights, environmental issue, save the whales, whatever), you get to agree or disagree. If enough people agree with me then we get change. If not, I still get to be free and continue my life without threat of prison or retribution. This is must-learn curriculum as far as I am concerned. This is truly how societies (and their governments) evolve.

  9. Beth and Cindy
    Don’t fall into the trap of arguing with Mike.
    He is really irrelevant in this situation and his posts on 40 south really amount to nothing. He is just egging you guys on. His arguments and statements cannot change the facts and the real truth here. He will have to vote the school board out really to make the biggest impact and I’m doubtful that will happen because they have strengthened our community.
    Good luck Mike and good night.

  10. The entire exercise is a feel good moment and will achieve little if anything. School safety is a law enforcement matter and until local police departments stand up and claim responsibility for the safety of school children we’ll continue to see these types of attacks. Liberal school boards and educators won’t address the issue because they won’t admit the answer is armed security and they’re against firearms for any reason.

    • The answer to mass shootings is not simply armed security. School safety is so much more than law enforcement. And many people criticize protests for their seeming meaninglessness, until the change comes. Empowering our kids to engage in the world they have inherited from us and to advocate for what matters to them is a good thing. I’m proud of our MRH district leaders and our principals.

      • Don’t worry Mike, if your bank gets robbed while you’re there chances are a customer with a CCW will jump in and confront the criminal while you hide behind a desk soiling your britches.

        • I feel sorry for Doug, having to moderate these comments.
          1. Most bank robberies are accomplished by the robber slipping a note to a teller and calmly walking out of the bank. Life isn’t like the movies.
          2. If I decide to hide and soil myself, it will be because I’m hiding from the mostly untrained CCW holder that decides to be a hero.
          3. As a CCW holder, recently retired Soldier (34 years) and a 24 year police officer, I know better than to jump into a situation that could result in needless death or injury to bystanders. Give the bad guy the money and let the cops and the FBI track him down.
          4. Your childish comments are going to get us both a stern email from Doug.

    • Well said Stephanie.
      Mr. Completely- School safety is a matter for ALL of us. Don’t try to dump responsibly on the police. Have you put any thought into how much it would cost to put armed security into every school? It’s not as simple as saying “One school = one cop”.

      • Great Mike…. who should protect a school from criminals if not a trained officer with a firearm? The school cook with a spatula? Janitor with a broom? I mean really after your little demonstration someone still needs to protect the kids cause you won’t.

        • Mr. C- Here’s a link for you. From the article- But there is no evidence to show that expanding law enforcement by adding SROs actually results in safer schools says Marc Schindler, head of the Justice Policy Institute.

          “In fact, the data really shows otherwise — that this is largely a failed approach in devoting a significant amount of resources but not getting the outcome in school safety that we are all looking for.”

          Placing an SRO in every school is just a way to make people “feel safer”. It doesn’t actually make the students and staff safer.

          • There’s no evidence that the armed guard at my bank stops a bank robbery either but it hasen’t been robbed. Go figure.

            • Huh. None of the different branches of my bank that I use have armed guards. By your logic, not having an armed guard prevents bank robberies, too.

    • Both Columbine and the Parkland school had armed guards, and look how those turned out. So why do we think arming teachers would work out any better?

    • School safety is not a liberal or conservative issue. Firearms have no place in schools and assault weapons have no place in society with the exception of the military.

  11. I am much more concerned that the President and Secretary of Education are slashing money for student loans, student aid, etc.. They have no heart or soul or interest in the future of our country. MRH administration, teachers and students have made a thoughtful plan enabling students to show solidarity about the safety of their schools. Their desire to participate is not mandated; should the leaders of our country (whom we are also paying with our tax dollars) follow through with attempts to decimate the opportunity for students to attend higher education without taking on a crushing burden, our Constitution will be worthless.

    • You don’t really expect anything positive from DeVos, our Secretary of Education, co you? She was raised in private schools, has only worked with private schools, and knows NOTHING about public school education! Typical of many of Trump’s appointees!

  12. Another thing Beth, the school states that this isn’t a pro or anti gun thing. If the school was truly concerned about school safety they wouldn’t just let me in, open the door, during school hours without asking me over the speaker who I am and what I need. They just expect you to walk to the office and sign in.

    • You’re total lack of understanding of what is going on here is hilarious. Boohoo, muh taxes bein’ spent and I don’t like it.

    • Mike, is that the actual security policy at MRH? If so, that needs to be seriously reconsidered. I’m an IT contractor and haven’t seen a school without cameras and a buzzer system in at least 10 years.

      As sad as it is, with all the wackjobs out there nowadays there really is no excuse to not have a school building locked at all times.

      • Yes it is Rudy. They have the school locked but all you have to do is ring the buzzer and they let you in, no questions asked.

  13. I’m happy my children can participate in the protest. These kids are changing our world. Thank you, MRH, for allowing my children to participate in this once in a lifetime protest. They will carry this experience with them throughout their lives and the time spent outside the classroom on that fine day will be much more impactful than classroom activities. MRH is the best!

  14. Wow Cindy, so thats your response to people with different views. Maybe your the problem. 40 plus years im Maplewood so don’t tell me to move too.

  15. As an MRH parent, I think the district’s statement is thoughtful and appropriate, and that the administration is handling this quite well. They are not advocating a position beyond wanting safe schools. They are not using students as political pawns. They are allowing the kids to express themselves peacefully without fear of punishment.

  16. So my tax dollars are paying for this? I don’t think that this “walk-out” during school hours, while staff are working on my dime, as a good use of resources. I also don’t think that it is right for the MRH District to use my children as pawns in their political statement.

      • My family has lived in this town since the 30’s and for you to be so ignorant in your response shows what type of person you are. I have lived here for 40 years myself and you are NOT BETTER than me. Your ignorant response proves it.

    • Mike, no political statement being made. Students and staff are expressing their dissent towards gun violence in schools. If that is “too political” for you then maybe you should check yourself and ask yourself why you would be opposed to this student expression.

      • Let’s get one thing straight Beth, I am not opposed to students expressing themselves but don’t do it on my dime. I would be fired if I were to do that on company time. No matter what you say it is a political statement and I don’t appreciate my tax dollars going to support it, do it on the weekend or after school. My kids should not be used as pawns for someone else’s opinion.

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