Walking or talking, rights on full display

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Some area high school students are going to enjoy an exercise in civic participation today.

With blessings from Stan Olson, Coeur d’Alene schools superintendent, today’s brief walkout will also constitute steps toward maturity and citizenship.

“We recognize their rights to peaceful assembly and free expression, and to advocate for causes that are important to them,” Olson wrote in a letter to parents in the district.

Olson emphasized the need for orderly conduct, warning that anything beyond peaceful assembly on campus will be dealt with through disciplinary action. Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to that.

In contrast, they’re doing things a bit differently at Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy, which has built a reputation on doing things differently. Charter is a college prep public school that is uncompromising in its focus on education first. Charter students wear uniforms; they can’t use smartphones during school. And pound for pound, they produce more major scholarship winners than any of their local peers.

In a letter to Charter parents last week, Principal Dan Nicklay said his students will talk, not walk. During study lab today, students have the option of attending a forum on gun violence in schools, featuring student speakers with a ride range of views on related subjects.

Following the forum, students may then comment in an online forum moderated by their peers.

Talk. Not walk.

“This will not be a political rally or a “protest,” but a respectful exchange of ideas on a difficult issue,” Nicklay wrote. “The Academy was founded with this type of discussion at the core of our philosophy.”

Nicklay also indicated that students may wear orange shirts or ribbons today to show solidarity, with a student group offering ribbons to any student who wants to wear one.

“Because it happens during Study Lab, it will not impact teaching and learning. Because it is not a ‘walk out,’ it will not present any unnecessary risks to our students,” he wrote.

The Press applauds the student-organized walkout efforts within the school district and agrees with Superintendent Olson that this lesson in assembly and advocacy is the exercise of several rights Americans should hold dear.

And the approach by Charter? That’s an A+. Here’s to both groups learning a lot today.

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