CLARK, NJ — Students at Arthur L. Johnson High School are participating in a student-driven assembly on March 14 the one-month anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida according to a letter from school principal Jennifer Feeley.
The Women’s March Youth Empower is encouraging students, teachers, parents and allies across the country to walk out of schools in support of new gun control-related legislation during the #ENOUGH event.
The nationwide walkout is planned for 10 a.m. across all time zones. Participants are asked to leave their classrooms for 17 minutes, which represents one minute for each person who died in Parkland, FL, on Valentine’s Day last week.
According to a letter from ALJ’s principal Jennifer Feeley the students at ALJ decided not to walk out of the school but to hold the event inside the school as an assembly instead. “Students have decided to assemble in the school building for their own safety during their activity periods three and four for 17 minutes,” said Feeley.
The letter did warn of ramifications if students gathered or walked out at other times. “If students walk out of the building or choose to assemble during a different time than the scheduled event, disciplinary action will occur,” said Feeley.
The letter from Feeley was sent to parents and guardians via email. It was not met with agreement in all cases. “I’m guessing the schools greatly influenced the design of this event. I can’t believe the students chose to hold an assembly instead of going outside. There is a reason the event is calling for students to walk out of their schools. It’s supposed to be a protest and make a statement to leaders. I think these kids were told it’s inside or nothing,” said one parent that requested not to be identified.
Superintendent Ed Grande supported the idea of ALJ students getting involved in this civic movement and spoke about the decision not to back an outdoor event. "Mrs. Feeley, the ALJ Principal, worked with the students to provide a means for them to assemble while maintaining the ever important need for strong school security. We chose not to support a gathering outside of the building at a set time due to the safety risks associated with such an approach," said Grande.
Feeley’s letter continued to explain that no instructional time would be lost during this time since the school has a built-in activity period which allows for this event in the regularly scheduled day.
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Editor's note: This story was edited after initial publication to include a quote from Superintendent Ed Grande.