Rallies for gun safety laws in the wake of the Florida school shooting are spreading across the nation and reaching the Peninsula, as local students are planning to join the movement advocating for more stringent firearm regulations.

Students along the Peninsula are expecting to stage 17-minute rallies Wednesday, March 14, honoring the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida last month.

The events uniformly scheduled for 10 a.m. across the United States pose challenges for local educators who wish to nourish the passion of an engaged student body while also balancing an obligation to educate and maintain order.

Districts serving high schoolers — the community most called to action — are taking different approaches to the planned rally day. Supervised protests, discussions addressing gun violence and voting registration are among the events planned by school officials seeking to channel the energy in a constructive fashion.

Administrators in the Sequoia and San Mateo Union High School districts along with the South San Francisco Unified School District collectively expect students to stay on campus during the rallies though.

Kevin Skelly, superintendent of the San Mateo Union High School District, appreciated the willingness of his students to work within the parameters set by officials while expressing themselves.

“There’s a sense of we don’t want this to happen. We feel outrage and pain and we want to make sure our voices are heard. And I hear the same thing from our staff. They are in the line of fire too. There’s a sense of urgency that I think everyone understands,” he said.

Sean Priest, principal of Sequoia High School in Redwood City, addressed the challenges posed to educators in a prepared statement.

“Although we are not sanctioning any student walkout at Sequoia, we have elected as a school to embrace this unique moment as an opportunity to educate and empower our country’s future leaders by maintaining a safe space and modeling civic engagement,” she said.

The events are planned one month after Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 students at the Florida campus with an AR-15 he purchased legally after passing a background check, despite a history of mental health issues.

The tragedy gave way to a national dialogue surrounding gun control issues, as federal lawmakers are facing increased pressure to consider more stringent regulations, particularly on high-powered weapons such as the one Cruz used.

Leading the charge on the national stage are Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who survived the shooting and are hoping to prevent a similar attack at another campus.

Hillsdale High School senior Kyle Guanzon acknowledged he and his friends feel empowered through the political push from Florida high schoolers.

“When we saw those students, it made us inspired to be more active around the community,” said Guanzon, the district’s director of student communication. “What they are doing is really impactful and we want to do the same thing.”

In solidarity with the shooting victims and gun control advocates, Guanzon said San Mateo Union High School District sites are planning to stage lie-in protests. Participants will gather in a public space like a school’s front steps or football field, dressed in white, and lie on the ground while reciting the names of the shooting victims for the duration of the 17-minute protest.

In the South San Francisco Unified School District, high school students will host campus gatherings as well, then turn their focus to educational events built around political advocacy and civic engagement, according to a statement from Superintendent Shawnterra Moore.

Guanzon said ralliers at his campus intend to raise awareness about the importance of school safety to the student community, while simultaneously advocating for new laws designed to make it more difficult to purchase guns and accessories commonly used in mass shootings.

“It’s been happening so many times and the government hasn’t done anything, so I guess now is the right time to do something because nothing will change if no one gets angry,” he said.

Officials are attempting to direct some of that political passion into action, as administrators are encouraging those eligible to register to vote. The San Mateo Union High School District Board of Trustees agreed Friday, March 23, should be a day when voting rights will be emphasized, and students interested in registering will be presented such an opportunity in their history, economics and government class. Sequoia Union High School District officials are planning similar events as well.

Skelly said his district is aiming to register 4,000 students who, if they take action at the ballot box, stand to make an impact on their community.

“If our district does that, and other districts do too, you are starting to have an effect if those kids come out and vote,” he said.

The registration session is planned one day prior to another march fighting school violence, when local students are planning to participate in community events along the Peninsula before joining a larger rally in San Francisco.

While much of the energy surrounding the issue comes from high school students, officials at the lower levels are preparing for student action as well.

Joan Rosas, superintendent of the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District, said in an email educators will encourage students to take action in an age-appropriate fashion.

“We are taking our lead from the students and providing developmentally appropriate opportunities on campus to explore ways in which they can make a difference,” she said. “At the elementary level, this may include activities where students express kindness to one another and at the middle school level students may want to write letters to local elected officials.”

Recognizing that the intersection of political activism and education can be challenging to address, Skelly said the path for officials is made easier by the students.

“We have some of the greatest kids in the world. It’s really easy to work with them, because they get it,” he said.

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(5) comments

LittleFoot

Shall not be infringed means exactly that. The Constitution trumps any contrived law these liberals and RINOS put on the books.

vincent wei

Here was the first shocker — California ranks dead last when it comes to the percentage of the total population holding a high school diploma....Getting Back to the Education Summit...SM Daily Journal 3/12/2018

vincent wei

The Red Guards fancied themselves as new revolutionary rebels pledged to eliminating all remnants of the old culture in China..... as well as schoolteachers and school officials...Several hundred thousand people died in the course of these persecutions.....

Dan

Fact: Every one of these shooters since Colorado were on psych drugs! Gee, where is the one common denominator?

Gene Ralno

There's a nut with ill-gotten firearms somewhere out there, planning 15 minutes of fame. A problem is the kids hear only one side of the issue, the public school side. It's a distraction. To leftist democrats inciting kids, I’d say for God’s sake, stop protesting and protect them. Even those indoctrinated by public schools know that since 1950, only one percent of the mass shootings have occurred where citizens are allowed to defend themselves. And in Europe, every mass shooting occurred where guns are banned.

Most didn't have to watch the Parkland news to know two things. The shooter was angry or deranged and nobody returned fire. But a difference this time was we didn’t immediately hear the usual chant, "grab the guns, grab the guns, I hate Trump." On the other hand, a number of rational students asked about armed security. For decades, many like myself have written and called on public school policy makers to provide physical protection at least as effective as is provided for politicians and parades.

The days of hearing only from leftist democrats who repeatedly howl for another conversation, grab the guns and make new laws, paused for a moment. Some hoped the political insanity against guns had softened and they'd actually protect the kids. But student hysteria soon was roused again by big media. It was louder than ever and even moved the president to consider raising the qualifying age, prohibiting bump stocks and allowing teachers to arm themselves. Only allowing armed teachers has merit.

Machine guns disappeared from private hands shortly after the 1934 National Firearms Act. But looking at the data, just a few years later, in the ‘60s, school shootings increased dramatically. Only a few years later, during Obama’s eight years, school shooting fatalities totaled 44 percent of all the school shootings in the entire 20th century. In spite of all this data and the fact that school shootings remain extremely rare, stopping them now is worth our greatest effort.

When cooler heads prevail, we’ll realize how easy the permanent solution is. First, marshal superior force. Secondly, strike down the enemy at the gate. That’s all. It’s a simple strategy. Angry or deranged killers will be stopped or find more vulnerable victims. Senior government officials will be famous for ending school shootings. And leftists will earn their votes from inciting hysteria at other undefended places. Failure this time will prove the leftists only wish to tighten the government grip.

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