Approximately 200 students walkout Participants marked with unexcused absences after 17 minutes outside CN CN \§ 03 By MAYA BROWN Students huddled in circles, holding signs with messages like \Enough is enough\ and \One student is worth more than all the guns on earth.\ Freeport High School students wore orange and yellow on National School Walkout on March 14 to show their sup- port to the victims of the Parkland, Fla. school shooting. As the names of the Stoneman Douglas High School victims were read over the loudspeaker inside the building, approximately 200 students chose to walk out. The students who walked out were directed to the football field in the rear of the building, where they remained silent in the cold, from 9:55 a.m. to 10:17 a.m. Standing in solidarity away from the school's 2000 plus students, they honored the 17 lives lost in the Parkland shooting. \I participated in the walkout because I believe in doing more and making a change,\ said Kira Brizill, Freeport High School senior. \If we stand united, the government will notice and do something.\ Freeport Public Schools superinten- dent, Dr. Kishore Kuncham, on behalf of the Freeport Public Schools, sent a letter to all parents. In the letter, he detailed the school district's plans to continue to implement safety protocols and ongoing safety training for all. Kuncham also said the school board would review emergency preparedness plans. \Freeport Public Schools has safety protocols in place ongoing partnerships with both the Village of Freeport Police Department and the Nassau County Police Department,\ Kuncham said in the letter. According to Kuncham, in light of the horrific tragedy in Parkland, Fla., he understands the importance of sharing emergency planning procedures with par- ents to ensure student and staff safety Last week, Kuncham spoke to the Her- JUNIOR, LEAH HOCHMAN, left and senior, Michelle Luongo, right, held hand-made signs to spread awareness. Photos by Maya Brown/Herald aid regarding school safety. He shared the public safety plans are readily avail- able on the school district's website. Building safety plans are not available for the public to review, however, for security reasons. Kuncham said that by law the board is required to review and submit safety plans to the state. The plans are coordi- nated with the police, fire, and other offi- cials and agencies in the village, county and state. \Our schools are safe,\ Kuncham said. Still, a tragedy like Parkland so often prompts deeper reflection.\ Freeport students joined dozens of Nassau County students in spite of some schools forbidding participation or threat- ening students with suspension. SENIORS, KIRA BRIZILL, Nia Mathews and Kayla Sewer consoled each other during the National School Walk Out on March 14. Although some schools allowed the walk- out and even provided extra security that day, Freeport students were marked with an unexcused absence after walking back inside the school. A small consequence incomparable to someone voicing their beliefs and sup- porting a national movement, Student Government member and participant of the walkout Miranda Urena says. The walkout for the students Was meaningful for students like Urena who shared she believed everyone should have the right to be free from violence and fear in their own community \We want to join together as a commu- nity to have a moment of silence, out of respect and support for those who lost their lives,\ Urena said. \Ultimately pre- vention begins with us and the action we take to achieve it.\ Meanwhile, inside the school, students who did not participate in the Walk Out participated in a moment of silence and wrote letters to local politicians and to the families of the victims. \The district does not condone walk- outs,\ said Joseph Mille, principal at FHS. \Students need to be aware that being an activist comes with consequences and repercussions. [If they need to under- stand that if they] have to stand up for something, [they] will have to face any repercussions.\ The conversations about school safety have been a hot topic for FHS students. Soon after the shooting in Parkland, there were some received school threats on social media school, leading to a frenzy of confusion and fear. \Students generally feel safe in our school environment but due to recent events, some have had mixed feelings,\ said Urena. In order to raise awareness and calm student fears, Mille held an assembly on social media and students' rights. He reflected on the impact social media can have on both an individual and the school community. \Our students look up to us [adminis- trators] for support, safety and love,\ Mille said. \I think all of those compo- nents are important. FHS is one of the safest spaces in Freeport, and students feel comfortable and know they are sup- ported.\ Mille also stressed the importance of students feeling comfortable and safe at school. The administration, according to Kuncham and Mille, as a whole believes safety and communication are important in establishing better relationships with the faculty, students and parents. \Hopefully they're [the school district] proactive in shoring up building security and addressing these issues in age-appro- priate assemblies and classroom discus- sions,\ said Senior Michael Desir. \This shows the turning of a new corner for the way the district will handle these kinds of tricky situations in the future.\ Mille's message to his students was also reiterated in another letter from Kun- cham to parents and guardians. \In addi- tion to the physical safety and well-being of our students, we are concerned with their online safety and the use of social media,\ said Kuncham. The safety of Freeport's students extends to social media, as students should know their rights in and away from school, according to school officials. An initiative the school continues to implement throughout the district. Maya Brown is a senior at Freeport High School and an intern at the Freeport Herald Leader. Nadya Nataly contributed to this story.