WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY


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Tom Rinearson: “Our students make me proud and give me hope!”

Tom Rinearson
Interim Superintendant of Lincoln County Schools.

From Tom Rinearson, Lincoln County Superintendent of Schools

Our students make me proud and give me hope…

Yesterday we had over 800 students walk out of our schools for 17 minutes to honor the 17 students who died in the Florida shooting and to have their voices heard: schools need to be a safe place for them. These students were from grades 5-12. Students worked with principals to understand District policy and state law around consequences for walking out of school. At one high school, the student leaders were heard telling their peers… “We chose to have our voices heard this way knowing there are consequences. We now need to own those consequences”… in an elementary school, 5th graders, who had heard that high schoolers had consequences asked their principal what their consequences were, because they understood that actions have consequences. The principal gave it back to them and asked what they thought the consequences should be… they jointly chose a detention during lunch. Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony are examples of great people who shared their voices knowing there would be consequences… they shared anyway…

Our students make me proud and give me hope…

We had students choose not to walk out and still shared their voice… some were concerned the national movement was only about gun control and was not truly about the roots causes of school shootings … some looked at the consequences of walking and chose other forums to in which to share their voice …. some did not have an opinion one way or the other. To my knowledge, no student was ridiculed, called a name or disparaged in any way by other students for their beliefs or actions they took. They all came to this day with an underlying belief that schools should be a place where they feel safe…. Adults and people in political power can learn from our students…

Our students make me proud and give me hope…

After watching multiple news outlets last night and seeing the narrow focus, I paused and thought about the message our students were trying to send, whether they walked out or stayed in… Our students honored those who died… our students understood that when speaking up there may be consequences. They spoke up anyway… Our students treated each other with grace and dignity, no matter where they were on the political spectrum… Our Students were beyond the narrow narrative portrayed by the media outlets. They want us to focus on root issues, not to get caught up in one solution…Our students want adults and politicians to stand up with them and come to real solutions… not to alienate each other because of beliefs… Our students rose to the occasion in a way far exceeding what I was seeing at a national level…

My concern now shifts to adults and the next couple of national walkouts coming in April… Parents, community members… Are we going to learn from our students and stand with them, in spite of consequences? Are we going to look at the consequences and decide to share our voice in a different way? Are we not going to treat those with different opinions with grace and dignity? Are we going to demand our politicians take a stand for making schools a place students feel safe? What are we going to do for our students in Lincoln County?

Our Students make me proud and give me hope!

Tom Rinearson Superintendent

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