Students in American Canyon participated in the national walkout on March 14, but remained on their campuses where officials provided them with time and options for expressing their feelings about recent violent events, both locally and in Florida.
Both American Canyon High School and American Canyon Middle School stopped classes around 10 a.m. to allow students to gather and share their reactions to the mass shooting at Parkland High School that left 17 people dead.
ACMS Principal Dan Scudero said his school adjusted their plans following last week’s shooting at the Yountville Veterans Home, sensing the proximity of that tragedy coupled with Parkland High’s required a different approach for his students.
“Originally we were going to have just a moment of silence to honor the 17 kids” in Florida,” said Scudero on Wednesday. “But when the Yountville situation happened, I thought they were going to want to take some action.”
Action was translated into written messages that students were encouraged to write out on 3x5 cards and share with others in school and by posting them on social media.
“Middle school students don’t know yet how to exercise their voice,” said Scudero. “So we wanted to find an applied and safe way to exercise a positive voice, whatever their message was — we didn’t give them a message, it was their message” to share.
Students left their classrooms at 10 a.m. for 30 minutes and gathered outside on school grounds to read what they wrote. Scudero and staff monitored things and made sure no one left campus.
The school held a moment of silence, and Scudero read off the names of the 17 people killed in Florida with help from a student, Angelina Driscoll.
Driscoll took it upon herself to make a large poster with the names, ages and some biographical information about each of the Parkland victims. The poster was then hung up in the school library for visitors to see, along with many of the 3x5 cards that students penned.
At the bottom of her poster, Driscoll wrote: “Violence is not the answer. Show love. Spread love. Share love.”
Other students had similar messages of positivity written on their 3x5 cards. Some were brief, such as “students deserve to be safe at school” or “every child deserves to live and learn and love #enough” or “never give up hope.”
Several students filled up their cards with longer messages.
A seventh grader named Erica wrote: If you know someone thinking of hurting themselves or others, speak up “because preventing lives from being taken matters more than the opinions or actions, [or] prejudices of others.”
Another student wrote: “Darkness can not drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
One student drew pictures of children crying, with all of them sharing the same thought balloon that read: “How could we have stopped this.”
Some turned to the Bible for their message. One card read: “My salvation and my honour depend on god, he is my mighty rock, my refuge” Psalms 62:7.
At American Canyon High School, officials stopped classes so students could gather in the gym for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 Parkland victims.
“A large majority of our students attended,” said Office Manager Patricia Slate, while the remainder stayed in classrooms for instructional time.
The school sent support staff and administration officials into the gym for any students who wanted to talk about recent events of violence.
No one left the school, according to Slate.
“We had our campus SRO [school resource officer] as well as campus supervisors patrolling the front” of the school, said Slate, “and they reported that there were no students who walked off campus.”