COLUMBUS — On Tuesday, April 10, eleven Northmont High School students had the opportunity to meet with four members of the Ohio legislature and Governor John Kasich to discuss issues surrounding school safety.
Because of recent issues of school violence throughout the nation, there was a desire among Northmont High School students to be proactive in seeking methods of improving school safety. On February 22 over 50 students attended a 7 a.m. open forum meeting, facilitated by Northmont High School staff and administration. The purpose of the meeting was to express concerns about school safety and begin brainstorming potential solutions.
After spirited conversations, three student-led sub-committees were created: Legislative Action, School Safety, and School Climate. Each committee would go on to meet until a plan was created for the nationwide “walkout day” on March 14. These committees decided not to do a “walkout” but instead, students believed it would be far more productive to stage a “walk-in” in the high school gymnasium.
On March 14, over a thousand students voluntarily walked to the gym where students took a group picture and participated in a student led climate-building activity to emphasize that no student is alone at Northmont High School. With the knowledge teachers attained from prior staff training from the Clayton Police Department, teachers dedicated a portion of each class period to leading conversations in the classroom about what to do in various lockdown scenarios. Finally, students in all Social Studies classes took a nonpartisan survey, created by the Legislative Committee, to measure student attitudes and thoughts on a variety of issues surrounding school safety and school climate.
Thanks to the outreach efforts of Superintendent Tony Thomas, the Legislative Committee secured an opportunity to share the survey results with State Senators Peggy Lehner and Bill Beagle, as well as State Representatives Mike Henne and Jeff Rezabek. After delivering a presentation at the Statehouse, students received an unexpected message from Governor John Kasich, stating that he also wished to speak with the Northmont High School students.
Presented with yet another opportunity to express their concerns about the importance of school safety, students again advocated on behalf of the NHS student body for increased supports to promote student safety. As a symbol of the importance of school safety, students provided the Senators, Representatives, and Governor John Kasich, a framed picture of the March 14 “walk-in” signed by the students of Northmont High School.
The legislators were asked to display the picture in their office to remind them of the importance of finding solutions to improve school safety. Northmont High School students, staff, and administration are extremely appreciative of the legislators’ willingness to listen to student concerns and for communicating current measures the legislators are working on to improve school safety.