Local schools prepare for student protests next week - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Local schools prepare for student protests next week

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Students across the country are continuing to lead marches and protests against current gun laws. A National School Walkout is planned for March 14, 2018, and schools across the Central Coast already have a plan in place that will let students make their voices heard.
"We do have a lot of passionate students that do have a lot of strong opinions," said Kimberly McGrath, San Luis Coastal Unified School District Assistant Superintendent. "At our middle schools and high schools especially, we've heard from students that they're organizing different rallies and different ways to bring students together."

While SLCUSD remains neutral on political topics, McGrath says students are free to take a stance. 

"We actually applaud the students for finding ways for the students to respectfully engage in that discourse," she explained.

McGrath says the events planned for March 14 are student-lead, with school administrators working with students to plan how the day is run.

Other districts have taken a more hands-on approach by scheduling time for students to make their voices heard.

Lucia Mar Unified School District has set aside time beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, and in a statement said, "Our school principals have worked with students, including student leaders to ensure this time is constructive and meaningful to students." 

That includes the students of Arroyo Grande High School. According to a flyer given to KSBY, students are encouraged to fill the quad at 9:50 a.m. An "organized demonstration with speakers and live music will promptly commence at 10 a.m. ... and will last 17 minutes, one for each life lost in Parkland, Florida."

Both San Luis Coastal and Lucia Mar encourage students to stay on campus, citing safety concerns, but they aren't stopping the March 14 demonstrations. 

There are two more national demonstration days planned. The first, "March For Our Lives," is on March 24. Local districts KSBY spoke with have no issues with students taking part in the day's events as it falls on a Saturday and does not interfere with school. The second is on April 20 and coincides with the anniversary of the Columbine High School mass shooting. That demonstration encourages students to leave school for the full day. Administrators of Central Coast school districts say they'd rather have students stay in school and have their voices heard through on-campus demonstrations.

Santa Maria junior high schools told KSBY that staff and administrators "are going to take time for students to write letters to students in Florida, and then post public letters and signs on the schools' fence. Students will also write essays about how they feel school safety should improve..."

Paso Robles School District sent KSBY this statement:
"We have partnered with local law enforcement to address potential safety concerns and our site administration has collaborated with students and staff to create a positive learning experience.
Student leadership groups, clubs, faculty, and administrators have worked together to plan events and activities for next week that help educate students about issues such as social media effects, safety protocols, and bullying prevention.
Our students have a powerful voice that can impact change and it is our duty as educators to support our students in a safe format as they grapple with the events that have occurred.  We are excited to witness the collaborative work of student and staff leaders in providing such a format that speaks to safety and the value of positive relationships with the school community."

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