Security Assembly Held in Wake of Tragedy


Principal Christopher Kavcak speaking at a security forum in response to student protest. (Photo by Kirsten Dorman)

Alex Schwalb and Kirsten Dorman

As an alternative to the nationwide student walkout, Warren Hills administrators offered an assembly for students who wanted to attend.

Prior to the event, Principal Christopher Kavcak sent out a letter recognizing students’ rights to having a voice, civic participation, and engagement in civil discourse.

“My primary focus is to maintain a safe environment for you and you will be encouraged to remain inside the building. I understand some will make the decision to exit the building,” Kavcak wrote.

The letter emphasized that students would be punished solely for leaving the building, not for protesting, and the importance of mutual respect.

“Regardless of your decision to participate or not, you are reminded to be respectful of all students, as our school has a diverse student body,” wrote Kavcak. “The political message behind the walkout could easily divide us, however, this is a time to come together and strengthen our school community.”

The assembly lasted 17 minutes, as did the walkout, to commemorate each of the 17 victims who had lost their lives in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting.

Kavcak, accompanied by School Resource Officer James Faulborn, opened the assembly by listing the names of each victim of the shooting, as well as a short description of them, followed by a moment of silence.

Afterward, students were invited to ask questions or voice concerns surrounding school safety.

One student raised his hand: senior Kieran Bonsignore.

“I don’t know if I speak for everyone here but, personally, I am adamant to speak because we are respecting people who lost their lives. I want to confirm with the administration that they’re with us in this, that regardless of political views our voice is still heard,” said Bonsignore.

Kavcak answered, “Absolutely, we’re with you. We know there are different views here at the school and I’m here to support you, whether I agree or disagree with you on any issue. I’m going to give you guidance on how to get involved on the next level. See something, say something, get involved in government and speak out and be informed.”

When asked, Bonsignore later commented that his concerns still revolved around how the administration would support students.

“We’re respecting people who lost their lives and I think that’s really important,” said Bonsignore. “At the same time, I really wanted to bring up the elephant in the room. What is the administration going to do to make sure we’re still safe and that our voice is heard? I respect Mr. Kavcak and I really appreciate what he’s doing, but still I think there’s this level of an ‘us’ and ‘them’ on this issue.”

In response to Bonsignore’s concerns Kavcak said, “We are going to continue to hold security forums at least once a month, starting after spring break.”