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    Whittier Students Promote School Community
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    School poster at Whittier with words "Peace and love in these halls. We are all in this together"

    Whittier Elementary Comes Together to Promote School Community

    Students in Seattle and across the country are rising a collective voice in national student-led demonstrations against gun violence and school safety. On March 14, many Seattle students honored the lives lost at Douglas High School in the recent Parkland, Florida school shooting and demonstrated support for school and student safety.

    But not all students, families and staff share the same vision for what that demonstration should look like.

    At Whittier Elementary, the school staff and families came together to plan a school-day observance that showed support for their school community and enabled students to add their voice to the national conversation.

    “It was important to us, as a community, to show our support for Douglas High School and to show our support for the importance of school safety,” said Principal Melissa Schweitzer.

    Principal Schweitzer and Jason Sciarrone Whittier assistant principal, led staff, families and PTA volunteers to organize the March 14 school activity.

    The school staff sent several communications to families and school community to discuss plans and collect feedback. The result of the community engagement was a school event that stressed the importance of a welcoming, inclusive and peaceful community at Whittier.

    “Overwhelmingly the feedback from families was thank you for being so thoughtful and appropriate!” said Assistant Principal Sciarrone.

    “From a parent perspective, many families support age-appropriate discussions of current events in school, which can be challenging material for our youngest students. In this case, Whittier staff arranged thoughtful activities that emphasized school as a safe place for kids,” said Amy Bryan, Whittier PTA member and legislative chair. “We are grateful that Whittier staff engaged with our children on this important topic.” 

    On March 14, the school spent 17 minutes engaged in activities that gave students the opportunity to creatively express their sense of belonging and identity in their school community and demonstrate support for the day of student-led action.

    The students participated in distinct activities based on grade level. Kindergarten through 2nd grade students remained in their classrooms and engaged in activities centered around safe conflict resolution, developing positive relationships and RULER, a social-emotional literacy curriculum designed to promote emotional literacy.

    The older students in grades 3 through 5 participated in the morning’s activities by rotating through three activity stations, where they drew inspirational messages on the playground with chalk, used finger paint to add their hand prints to a large poster that is hung in the school’s hallway and wrote postcards. A video was produced of the day's activities and will be shared with the Douglas High School principal.

    Whittier is one example of how Seattle Public Schools is using community engagement to foster positive relationships and partnerships in schools so that all students succeed.

    In collaboration with our students, families, city emergency responders, community partners and staff, Seattle Public Schools is actively working to ensure our school communities are safe and inclusive for every student.

    The school board has invited families to join our district at 10 a.m. on March 24, 2018, for the March for Our Lives Rally at Cal Anderson Park.

    Read more about RULER curriculum at Seattle Public Schools.

    Read more about the School Board resolution on school safety.

    You can watch the video the school staff and community created that captures the day's event.

    Photos from the school event.

    Student paint hand prints on the school poster
    A student displays his hands with paint
    Students write peace on the playground with chalk
    Student made poster that says "Helping + Friendship = Kindness"