British novelist C. S. Lewis said “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”
The Student Walk Out is over, the cameras are gone, and the “tweets” will soon be turning to the next “trending topic” of the day. What remains is the important question, what’s next?
What will the thousands of students across the country now do as we continue to search for a solution to keep students safe and make sure there is no longer a need for seventeen minute walk outs?
The students who gathered in gymnasiums and football fields, who read the names of the victims, who chanted and proclaimed “no more”, must now be ready to do the hard work. Their day to day actions, the things they do when no one is watching, can have the biggest impact on creating a safe school environment.
It all starts with making the time to go out of your way, leave your comfort zone, and take the first step to connect with someone in your school who may not have any connections. Students need to be “Up-Standers”, to speak out when they see behavior, whether in person or online, that intimidates, isolates, or belittles other people. Most importantly, if someone is having problems, shares violent or threatening thoughts, or just seems to need someone to talk to, they need to be able to share that information with a trusted adult who can help.
It’s easy to gather and chant, to make generic demands for change, or even place blame on a faceless entity. However, it’s much harder to take personal responsibility for our actions, to work with others and compromise in order to bring about real solutions that balance preparedness with prevention.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
The nationally organized student walkout may have been the big splash that started a wave in motion but it may take a collection of unnoticed drops that creates the real ocean of change.
In closing, I am very proud of our students and am honored to serve as Superintendent of this great district. I know that our students will continue to make a difference each and every day. I am very optimistic about our future due to the awesome work that is being done by our staff, parents, Board of Education, community members and our students.