OLDHAM COUNTY, Ky. (WHAS11) - A national walkout is planned for Wednesday morning to honor the victims of the Florida high school shooting. In response to that request, schools across the country and in Kentuckiana are supporting the event or offering other options. That includes Oldham County.
There are dozens of different alternatives for the three-high school. District leaders said they want students to feel free to fully express themselves, but their priority is making sure that's done in a safe environment.
"It's all about safety. We just don't think it's a good idea to advertise to the entire world that 1300 students are going to be standing out in the parking lot at exactly 10 a.m. on March 14,” Oldham Co. Schools Director of Communications Lori McDowell said. “I think that we had more pushback from parents than we did students, but the superintendent from the very beginning hasn’t wavered. This is about school safety. This is about what’s best for kids.”
The district is focusing on the number 19 instead of 17 to include the victims killed in the Marshall County school shooting.
"To remember those two so close to home was very important. So, we decided to make it 19 reasons, 19 minutes,” McDowell said.
Each school has a separate agenda, but they all carry the same theme.
"It was very important for the principals when we first started talking about this to have that student voice heard,” McDowell said.
Both North Oldham and Oldham County will hold Q&A sessions with their school resource officers.
"If students have questions about why do we do this or why don't we do this, then they'll be able to ask that,” McDowell said.
North and South Oldham are putting a spin on speed dating with the revised speed meeting.
"Meeting 19 new people that you normally wouldn't interact with at school, saying hello to them, learning something about them, saying something positive to them,” McDowell said. "We want to show inclusion and just really kind of address that mental health aspect."
Students can also register to vote and write letters to lawmakers and families of the shooting victims.
"We're kind of addressing every little aspect, and students can choose to participate in one area, two areas, or no areas. They're welcome to stay in class if they want as well,” McDowell said.
If students still want to go to a protest at another location, Oldham County will excuse the absence as long as a parent fills out an Educational Enhancement Opportunity Form. Above all, the district thinks this is just beginning and hopes this empowers students far past their time in school.
"This isn't going to go away. This isn't an issue that should go away. School safety is our number one concern, and it's nice to see students standing up for that, and we certainly expect this to continue,” McDowell said.