UAHS students stage walkout following shooting at Parkland, Florida high school

By Katherine Dominek, ’19

“Scott Beigel, 35; Alyssa Alhadeff, 14; Martin Duque Anguiano, 14,” the names of the 17 victims of the United States’ most recent mass school shooting spoke volumes over the hushed crowd of over 300 UAHS students during a walkout that occurred in the front courtyard on Feb. 21. The words of the organizers, juniors Clare Driscoll and Dylan Carlson Sirvent, pierced deeper than the brisk wind and rain that presided over the assembly.

“School should not be a place of fear. [It’s] a place to learn, to make friends and to build a community. Teachers and students now have to wrestle with the daily hypotheticals of what they would do in the event of a shooting. No community is immune to this, not even UA,” Carlson Sirvent said during a speech preceding a moment of silence.

The walkout was held to show solidarity with the survivors of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The suspect, former student Nikolas Cruz, 19, is being held on 17 counts of premeditated murder.

At the walkout, a single message, written on the back of what seemed to be a pizza box, rose above the sea of teen heads: “When our lives were in danger, you didn’t tell us, the newspaper did; two weeks later!”

The sign referenced a case published in the Upper Arlington ThisWeek Community News police beat. On Feb. 2, a student carried a concealed weapon onto school grounds; he allegedly had it in his backpack.

In response to the Florida shooting and community initiatives, the UA School District held a town hall meeting Feb. 26 in the UAHS auditorium to discuss safety. Superintendent Paul Imhoff, UA Police Chief Tracy Hahn and UA Fire Chief Lyn Nofziger answered audience questions relating to both current and future safety procedures.

Imhoff weighed in on the current debate regarding training teachers to use and carry firearms. “Arming teachers—I would have to say never,” he said.

The overarching theme of the night was that “everything is on the table” regarding safety. From the entrance and exit systems to the tradition of open lunches and study halls at the high school, students, guardians and faculty members should expect to see changes in the near future. Imhoff promised that the district will hold an annual safety forum as policies evolve.

While the meeting was called to provide a sense of transparency between the school district and community members, some questions remain unanswered.

The district is still unsure of what changes will occur as a safety audit is currently being performed across the various schools.

Details on the Feb. 2 arrest of the male juvenile will also not be released as the district and the UAPD declared the situation to be non-threatening. Imhoff and Hahn stated that parents and students will only be notified in the instance of a threat.