Administration supports memorializing shooting victims

AUBURN — Careful to stress it is a time to unite in the wake of a tragedy rather than political advocating, high school administration has said students may take part in next month’s National School Walkout.

On Friday morning, Auburn High School Principal Casey Handfield took to the school’s e-mail and Google Classroom to share his support in the wake of the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.

“Last week’s tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is the latest in a series of mass shootings across the country that have seen innocent people needlessly killed and injured. The reasons for these senseless acts of violence are complicated and it is short-sighted to point to one particular factor as the cause for these events when it is a variety of factors that come together in these situations. However, I think that one thing all of us can agree on is that this has to stop in our schools, in our malls, in nightclubs, in concert venues, in workplaces, and any other place that would be a target for a mass casualty situation,” Handfield wrote.

Referencing the planned National School Walkout on March 14, Handfield told students Auburn High School’s faculty, staff, and administration will “stand with you in your desire to show your support.” He added that administration will make plans to “allow anyone wishing to participate take part in an activity on the field hockey field.” Those students not interested in taking part will not be required to do so. “We are respectful of different feelings and viewpoints and will have an alternate plan in place,” Handfield wrote.

The National School Walkout is slated to take place at 10 a.m. and last for 17 minutes in memory of the 17 lives lost in the shooting.

While Handfield expressed a desire to allow students to express their support for the National School Walkout, he made it clear that participation must be “orderly and respectful.”

“This will not be the place where we advocate about political viewpoints, debate gun laws, or otherwise engage in activity that would take away from what we are trying to accomplish. March 14th is a day to gather as human beings and demonstrate in a united manner these tragedies due to guns is not okay and it has to stop.”

Handfield floated his thoughts of possible ways to take part in the walkout, but noted nothing has been decided at this time as to what will take place and how it may be documented. Students were invited to offer their ideas. He added that conversations with Auburn Superintendent of Schools XYZ will take place in advance of the walkout date.

As reported earlier this week, students, teachers, administrators, and police officials throughout Worcester County have taken, or plan to take, a myriad of steps in the fallout of the tragic school shootings. On Saturday morning, Tantasqua Regional High School Principal Michael Lucas took to Twitter to tell students administration there would work with the Student Council to allow for participation in the National School Walkout.

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