Principal's Page

From: Principal Sargalski 
Subject: JFK Parkland Support Plan

JFK Students and Families,

As you know, there are students around the country organizing events to both pay tribute to the victims of the Parkland tragedy and draw attention to school safety issues. As educators, we understand the importance of supporting students in these difficult moments. We also want to support their development as active and responsible citizens, and we have a duty to nurture an environment where students feel comfortable expressing a variety of opinions.  While we would never want to stifle the voices of our students, we have a responsibility to ensure student safety.  My most important job is to keep our students safe. A publicized walkout raises concerns with students leaving campus or people from outside of our school community being present with our children. For this reason, administration cannot endorse a situation where students are walking out of the building.  Such a walkout is unsafe and may put students in danger.

Building administration, Central Office, and local town officials have been in talks about how to address these conflicting concerns.  I have been meeting with JFK student leaders to identify a safe student-supported alternative to a walkout.  The student leaders agreed that the original goal of the March 14th event was to pay tribute to the victims of Parkland, and that the goal of the April 20th event was to draw attention to issues impacting school safety. We have come to a collective agreement on how to honor the students’ wishes to pay tribute to the Parkland victims and express their concerns about school safety.  While we are still working out the details for April, our current plan for March 14thinvolves the following:

  • Under no circumstances should teachers influence or require students to participate in any of the activities below.
  • Wednesday will be Red, White & Blue day (wear red, white and blue) to show our JFK community spirit and strength, while honoring the victims of Parkland, Florida.  
  • Donate a $1 to wear a hat. The money raised will be donated to the Parkland School District.
  • During morning announcements student leaders will encourage all students to participate in the “#whatsyour17” movement.  This is a movement to honor the victims by doing positive things for others that will impact the climate at JFK.  Examples include: smile at 17 people, say a kind word to 17 people, offer 17 people a compliment, “high five” 17 people, etc.
  • At 10:00 a.m. student leaders will read the names of the 17 victims of the Parkland tragedy and then hold a school-wide 17 seconds of silence to pay tribute to these victims.
  • For the rest of the week, students will also be encouraged to do 17 kind deeds for other students and adults in the building. This may take additional days to complete.
  • Students in Art classes will have an opportunity to make supportive cards that will be sent to Parkland High School.
  • Our Social Studies Department will be highlighting historical figures that lead peaceful protests to change what they saw as unjust in society. Additionally, Social Studies teachers will be offering students an opportunity to share their thoughts on the “#whatsyour17” movement.

We recognize that some students, despite the prospect of consequences, may still choose to walk out of the building, and we are planning accordingly.   We hope this alternative will deter our students from engaging in any unsafe behavior while providing them a safe opportunity to express themselves.  

Respectfully yours,

Steven Sargalski

Principal, JFK Middle School