Schools Ready for Walkouts on Wednesday

As students across the country plan walkouts on Wednesday to mark the one-month anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., schools on the South Fork are preparing, as well.

Students from the Hayground and Bridgehampton Schools will have a joint walkout, and the Springs School will have a district-sanctioned event to memorialize the lives lost in Florida and assure students that safety is a top priority.

At East Hampton High School, while the walkout is not school-sponsored, administrators have rearranged the day's schedule so that students who wish to participate can do so without missing class. And at the East Hampton Middle School, the principal, Charles Soriano, has offered parents the option of signing their children out themselves, if participation is important to them.

Adam Fine, the East Hampton High School principal, has been working with student leaders to plan and prepare for the student walkout.

"Coordination with students is key," said Mr. Fine. "I support their right to participate and to express themselves, but my number-one concern is for their safety."

East Hampton High School has a student population of approximately 900, though not all are expected to take part in the walkout. 

Mr. Fine said he would have adequate coverage both inside and outside the building to prepare for any eventuality, and that there would be a police presence at the high school that day. "Not because I expect a problem," he said, "but because I want everyone safe. We want to make sure it is a positive experience."

"There's been a lot of back and forth about their ideas," Mr. Fine said. "All have been simple and in good taste. They've proposed making signs bearing the names of the lives that were lost, and possibly standing in some sort of formation. Right now we’re thinking the football field would be the best location. We will probably have a photographer there."

"If you feel (strongly) that your child needs to participate in a walkout experience, and that the lessons learned would outweigh his or her attending class, please follow our regular school procedures and sign them out of school, wherein you will assume direct supervision for your own child," Mr. Soriano wrote in an email to middle school parents. "For example, a handful of parents signed their daughters out for the Women's March in Washington, D.C., which I think was a wonderful opportunity for those youngsters who were socially and emotionally ready to handle such an experience — under the watchful eyes of their parents. You know your child best."