Reading schools plan for participation in national walkout

Event set for 10 a.m. Wednesday

READING, Pa. - Students across the country are expected to walk out of their classrooms Wednesday morning to protest gun violence.

The National School Walkout is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in every time zone and last for 17 minutes -- a minute for each life lost in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14.

In a statement on its website, the Reading School District on Tuesday detailed its plans for students and staff to participate in the event:

"After consulting with our building principals and REA (Reading Education Association) leadership, as well as gathering ideas from our student leaders, Reading School District has determined building-based approaches that will continue to give voice to student advocacy while at the same time ensuring the safety of all concerned."

Reading High School
RHS students plan to gather in the school's hallways and either link arms or stand shoulder-to-shoulder for 17 minutes. During that time, several student leaders, including the senior class president, will use the school's speaker system to share their thoughts about the impact of gun violence. Students who do not want to gather in the hallways will remain in their classrooms.

Reading Intermediate High School
RIHS students will hold a peace march, walking around the Citadel's perimeter for 17 minutes. Students who don't want to participate will remain in the school's gymnasium.

Northwest and Southwest middle schools
Both schools will observe a moment of silence, followed by classroom activities, such as 17 ways to increase the peace in schools (brainstorming ideas for stopping violence), making 17 thank-you cards or writing kind messages, saying "hi" to 17 people they don't know, and making posters and signs that can be displayed around the schools.

Northeast Middle School
Staff and students will gather in the school's gymnasium to form a heart with the number 17 inside. Students will be asked to wear specific colors to create the heart design.

Southern Middle School
Staff and students will wear burgundy and observe 17 minutes of silence.

Elementary schools
After careful consideration, the district said it determined that a moment of silence is not developmentally appropriate for the students' ages. The school day will continue as normal, however, teachers may use teachable moments if students mention the event.

District teachers
Teachers plan to recognize the day by wearing orange, which is the national symbol of solidarity in the movement to stop gun violence.

Wednesday's walkout will be followed by a nationwide "March for Our Lives" event on March 24.

Organizers are calling on children and their families to take to the streets of the nation's capital and in cities across the country to demand that their lives and safety become a priority.

The March for Our Lives event in Reading is set for 12:30 p.m. on March 24 at Rose Garden Road and Constitution Boulevard in City Park.

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