Online letter to the editor, March 9, 2018

Mar 09, 2018

An open letter to RSU 3 Leadership

We write today as parents of a Mount View High School ninth-grader.

We very much appreciated the email from Superintendent Austin recently that clarified, ahead of time, the district's intention to observe students' rights to protest on March 14th during the National School Walkout.

We see the next few school days as a unique and important window of opportunity in our high school that should not be missed. This is a chance to explore citizenship, a chance to participate in a national discussion, and a chance for our young adults to engage in difficult conversations.

However, we believe that this kind of "either-or" choice might be quite socially challenging to some students. Most high school students want to make and keep friends.  We worry that this kind of public choice could deepen divides within the school community.  We think that all of us adults can help students see that this Walkout is not a referendum on guns but rather, as stated in the information on the organizing website, a call to "end gun violence."

We believe respectful dialogue serves our students and our communities. We encourage all of the MVHS faculty and staff to provide time and space for questions, opinions and be willing to insist on civility through disagreements.

Our hope is that every student will have the opportunity to write, listen and/or speak about their own opinion around gun violence so that when the walkout happens on Wednesday the 14th, they will all have had some preparation, conviction and more confidence in their decision to sit tight or stand up.

In summary, we hope that:

  • Teachers and parents will talk about and/or ask their students to write about the Walkout prior to Wednesday the 14th,
  • Teachers, parents and administrators will remind students that the walkout mission is to "end gun violence" and NOT a referendum on gun ownership,
  • Teachers, parents and administrators will remind students that friends can disagree and still be friends.
  • Thank you very much for your tireless and difficult work on behalf of so many families in our region.

Sincerely,

Polly Shyka and Prentice Grassi

Freedom

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