School Shooting in Florida Leads to Nationwide Student Action

Abington High School Students Prepare for Walkout


Allison MacLeod

Empty hallway of Abington High School

Alison Santosuosso, Staff Writer

On February 14, Valentines Day, 17 students and teachers lost their lives in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.

In response to this event, which sadly is no longer shocking, students across the country are planning to take action on March 14, the one-month anniversary of the tragic event. Many schools will be participating in a voluntary school walk out for 17 minutes to honor the lives that were horribly taken.

Over February vacation, the Abington High School principal, Dr. Sullivan, and assistant principal, Ms. Louko, along with many principals from other schools across the state attended an active shooter training called ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate). This program was planned since the fall. According to the ALICE website, it is a program “dedicated to promoting proactive strategies to improve the chances of survival during an active shooter event.” After the training, Dr. Sullivan met with the Abington Police Department to learn how to implement ALICE training at the high school.

Dr. Sullivan exchanged emails with other principals around whether or not they should allow their students to participate in the March 14 walkout. Dr. Sullivan said “there was some talk of not allowing [the walkout] to happen.” Many principals stated that there would be consequences if students participated in the walkout.

Pullquote Photo

…this is about First Amendment Rights, not Second Amendment Rights.

— Dr. Teresa Sullivan

As well as being the high school principal, Dr. Sullivan is also a history teacher. She “really saw [the proposed walkout] as a teachable moment.” Her responsibility is to “keep kids safe” and she wants people to “feel comfortable in their own school.” In other words, this walkout is something students should feel safe doing, and Dr. Sullivan is trying her best to make that happen.

During a meeting with student leaders on February 28, students discussed what they thought would be a good course of action. Some ideas students proposed were a memorial for the school shooting victims, a silent walk, a mission statement, wearing orange on March 14, releasing 17 balloons, a moment of silence, and other ideas.

Dr. Sullivan wants students and parents to know that “this is about First Amendment Rights (freedom of speech), not Second Amendment Rights (the right to bear arms).” Although some people are protesting the use of guns, the students at Abington High School are protesting for their safety. Before going to school in the morning, students shouldn’t have to worry about all the school shootings that have occurred, and once in school they shouldn’t have to be suspicious of their peers or worry about their safety.

One other outcome of the student leader meetings was that students will be allowed to purchase orange wristbands with the hashtag #NeverAgain to show that if everyone comes together as a community, there is hope that this will never happen again. These wristbands will be sold for $1.00 and all proceeds will be donated to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. This shows that students are sticking together and those at Abington High School stand with the Parkland students.

On March 6, Abington School Superintendent Peter Schafer sent an email that read: “On Tuesday, March 13, at 6:30 PM, in the Seminar Room at the Middle/High School there will be a panel discussion entitled ‘Helping Families Feel Safer About Their Children in School.’ The panel will include Superintendent Peter Schafer, Chief David Majenski of the Abington Police Department, a Mental Health Professional, and High School Principal Dr. Teresa Sullivan.  The format will begin with short presentations to be followed by a Q & A session. Parents and guardians of students of all ages are welcome.”

Update: On Friday, Mar 9, Dr. Sullivan, Mrs. Louko, and student leaders met with all students in the auditorium to outline the upcoming events. More information was sent home to parents. And posted to constant contact on the high school’s website. Here is a link.