Teachers never told to keep students from walking out

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Teachers never told to keep students from walking out

Neha Madhira, Assistant Editor

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On National Walkout Day last Friday, multiple students who walked out at 10 a.m. were strongly suggested by teachers to go back to class or they would be punished, without any clear reasons. There was also confusion about what the plan for students walking out was.

“I haven’t really had this happen as a principal,” principal John Burdett said. “We talked to a lot of students, administrators, counselors, teachers, asking if there was a buzz going on about the walkout. We didn’t feel that there was a movement of that so I didn’t feel the need to address it.”

Burdett also said that nothing was sent out about stopping students from walking out.

“That never came from me,” Burdett said. “We didn’t send anything out to teachers, nothing came from Dr. Drew Watkins, Central Office or the board. None of that ever came from anybody. That was done by those teachers, and if I can find out who those teachers are, then I will talk with them. Let administration take care of discipline.” 

If disciplinary actions had to be taken, administrators would talk to individuals on why they were walking out and students would face consequences like a detention if they were just skipping class. 

“I can’t physically keep you from walking out, so if students wanted to do that, whether it’s a right or not, I’m not stopping them,” Burdett said. “I didn’t see anything organized, there might have been a few leave. Technically, walking out is skipping class. Now, there is an intent for doing that so we would work through that with students, pull them in and ask what they were doing there.”

When students are asked why they are walking out and don’t have a reasonable response or are just wandering around the school, Burdett said that they are better off staying inside.

“When I ask students why they are doing it, and they say that it’s national walkout, ok, but what does that mean to them,” Burdett said. “Are they informed or are they just walking out to walk out? That serves no purpose, because now they are not educated in doing that. If they have educated themselves, and they have a stance on that, fantastic.”

What was planned for the day involving teachers and their students, was the team-bonding activity during fourth period along with a school-wide moment of silence to honor classmates around the nation whose lives had been lost.

“I have a principal’s counsel made up of 15 students across the school, and we did talk about the walkouts,” Burdett said. “We asked ourselves what could we can do to show solidarity as a school for the lives that have been lost and the students that we have lost in Columbine, down in Florida, Sandy Hook. They’re all classmates of our extended family. What could we do here that brings us together as Prosper High School, but also reflects and honors them?”

Burdett said this team-building activity and moment of silence were not to discuss or take a side on gun rights, but to reflect on those who are no longer with us. In the Principal’s Newsletter he sent out after, he also said it coincided with the Relay for Life event Friday night.

“It’s not like, ‘Hey, stop. We are going to protest whatever,’ because you can protest, but there also needs to be a coming together,” Burdett said. “That is what my job is. How can we get more connective with each other, understand one another and work together for solutions such as bringing people together and feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. It could be through the team building, moment of silence, it may be through singing the Alma Mater. We have to provide those opportunities.”