Kalispell Public Schools to participate in March 14 walkouts

A student walkout in Bozeman on March 2nd. Judith Retana/KTVM.jpg

At schools nationwide student walkouts are being planned for March 14 under the #Enough movement. The walkouts follow last month's Florida school shooting that claimed the lives of 17 people.

Hundreds of students in Montana have participated in walkouts since the shooting, with walkouts organized in Missoula on February 21st and in Bozeman on March 2nd.

This week students at Kalispell's two public high schools are planning to participate through several school-organized events aimed at honoring the lives of those lost in Florida.

"I think it's important to not ignore the voice of our students," said Kalispell Public Schools Superintendent Mark Flatau. “These young people are, in some cases, literally months away from entering the world -- the real world of public dialogue, of discussion on both local and national issues."

Flatau said school administrators at both Glacier High School and Flathead High School sent emails last week to parents in order to be transparent about the students’ plans.

Glacier High School will have a brief and voluntary walkout for a memorial commemorating the lives that were lost. Regular school attendance rules will apply after the 17-minute walkout.

At Flathead High School, Principal Michele Paine wrote the following in an email to parents:

“We have been monitoring student interest and concern over the recent school shooting in Florida on February 14. Although our student body has expressed deep sadness over this tragedy, no one has stepped forward to rally around any type of protest activity on March 14.”

Currently the plan at Flathead High School is to show a video commemorating the students in Parkland, Florida.

School administrators say any further student activity will happen outside of school hours.

Flatau says school administrators have held meetings with the student body and have not received any indication the students plan to advocate for gun control. However, he added he has no control over what their message ends up being.

"Can I predict what any student is going to do? No, I can't, that's the challenge of educating and managing nearly 5,900 students every day in Kalispell," he said.

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