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IPS students, staff prepare for national school walkout

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A student-led effort to push for school safety will be visible in Indianapolis Wednesday. Many Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) students are planning to participate in the national school walkout event, scheduled to happen around the nation at 10 a.m.

The movement comes in the wake of the Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead. The walkouts are planned for the one-month anniversary of the violent incident.

Plans for these demonstrations vary from district to district. For IPS, leaders at schools participating in the event have designated specific areas for students to gather under the supervision of staff.

Students at Shortridge High School have been busy coordinating their own demonstration. Student body president Madeline Anderson and freshman DeJanae Harges have been part of that effort.

“This is really important to me because of the students that had their voices taken away because they were shot,” Anderson said.

“Hearing the stories about the recent shootings, I noticed I was really passionate about issues going on,” Harges said.

While neighboring districts are requiring students to remain inside school buildings, the Shortridge students who choose to participate will be marching out to the football field.

“It’s seventeen minutes of silence,” Harges said.

Each minute dedicated to a life lost. Every student will be carrying signs with phrases like “I’m marching …” and “I’m silent for…” filled out with their personal answers.

“We wanted to be very poignant about our message,” Anderson said. “We didn’t want people to think we were just walking out of class because we don’t want to be in class.”

IPS spokesperson Carrie Cline Black said the district always encourages students to use their voices and be able to exercise their right to share what’s important to them. Leadership from schools will work to inform parents, in advance, about what will be allowed Wednesday.

“We will not punish any student that participates in tomorrow’s walkouts as long as they follow the rules set forth by the schools,” Cline Black said.

Indianapolis Public Schools will all operate by the same guidelines:

  • All walkouts are student-led.
  • Students have the option to participate in the walkout.
  • Students who decide to participate in the walkout will not be punished as long as they follow the rules set by the school.
  • There will be supervision outside for those who choose to participate in the walkout.
  • Participating schools have chosen a designated, safe location on campus for students to gather.
  • There will be supervision inside for those who choose not to participate in the walkout.
  • Parents are being notified of their child’s options and the safety plans in place.

IPS leaders say safety is a top priority. So, staff will be supervising the students who demonstrate.

“IPS respects and supports the right of our students to peacefully advocate for causes that are important to them,” said Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee. “I have talked with our student advisory council about appropriate and creative ways to do so while at school. As our students express themselves, we will ensure that maintaining a safe environment remains paramount.”