In protest of gun violence, many students across America will walk out of classrooms at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
The National School Walkout will happen for 17 minutes, which honors the 17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students killed in the Parkland, Florida, shooting.
Those who participate in the protest are also demanding gun reform.
Faculty of Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville, Fort Smith and Greenwood Public High Schools have varying views of The National School Walkout.
Additional security will be added on campus. At 9:55 a.m., participating students will be dismissed to the school's courtyard. The names of the 17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students will be read aloud and afterward, four students will speak, according to Fayetteville High School.
Also, some students have planned a march at 10:20 a.m. to the Washington County Courthouse. The students leading the march have obtained a permit from the City of Fayetteville. It is not a school-sponsored event. Students who leave campus must be checkout with a note signed by a parent or guardian and if not, they will receive an unexcused absence. The note is due by 4 p.m. Tuesday (March 13), a letter written by Fayetteville High School Principal Steve Jacoby states.
According to Rick Schaeffer, communications director at Springdale Public Schools, students Har-Ber High and Springdale High are participating in the walkout. Something they're doing that other schools aren't is, Har-Ber is videoing the vigil and sending it to the students in Florida to show their support. The walkout is voluntary and not every student and teacher will participate.
“It’s (walkout) brief. Very little instructional time will be missed. That was a very important aspect of this. It is an appropriate way to say we’re concerned, and in the Springdale School District our number one concern is school safety and students' safety. I think the students know that and appreciate that," Schaeffer said.
School officials said if students choose to walkout, that they will respect their constitutional rights.
Ashley Siwiec, communications director for Rogers Public Schools said, "Rogers school administrators have been in conversation with students to discuss whether students plan to participate in the National School Walkout. At this time, some student leadership teams have proposed optional gatherings on the school campus to share essays or videos about their opinions or have a period of silence, but none have indicated in advance that they plan to walk out... however, these are not school-sponsored events and no student is required to attend. Staff will monitor any event that happens on campus to ensure student safety."
Board members voted against and discussed the walkout Monday night (March 12). The final vote was in favor, 4-3, to uphold district policy as it’s printed in the student handbook, which means any student who chooses to participate in the walkout at 10 a.m. Wednesday will be given an absent and assigned detention.
Leslee Wright, communications director for Bentonville Schools said, "We recognize the immeasurable loss suffered in Parkland as well as in other towns across the nation. The safety of our students is our top priority and we know the Bentonville Board of Education stands firmly behind us in that commitment. Monday night, after thoughtful discussion, the board voted to uphold school policy regarding unexcused absences and we respect that decision."
Dr. Ginni McDonald, director of secondary education for Fort Smith Public Schools said, "Student voices should be heard and not prohibited."
McDonald recommended that principals, "...use leadership and common sense to support and channel the opportunity for this voice to have a meaningful impact in a safe environment."
Several students, faculty and staff are expected to participate in the walkout.
District leaders said they recognize that students have the right to conduct a political demonstration as long as it is peaceful and not obscene, and students who participate in the political demonstration should be able to do so without fear of being disciplined for their participation.
Greenwood Assistant Superintendent Suzy Wilson said several students, faculty and staff are expected to participate in the walkout, which will be a school assembly. Students who don't want to participate will be required to go to study hall or work on other projects in designated areas of the school. Wilson also said those of the district support students taking action to help others and they encourage students to "stop, look and listen".
The school has an agenda for the walkout. Names of the 17 Parkland students who were killed will first be read, after Greenwood school resource officers and Jim Caudle, campus security director, will be recognized. After those recognitions, school leaders will encourage students to have positive relationships before having a moment of silence. After, students will perform a song.
Those of the district stated, "It is the intent of Greenwood High School to bring our students, staff, and community together for a positive message that promotes unity and a safe school culture."
NOTE: Additional statements and details will be added to this story as they are released.