CK students protest lack of safety at school

Students in the Central Kitsap School District are joining the cry for change after they say recent events displayed the district’s neglect toward keeping students safe.

Hundreds of Central Kitsap middle and high school students left their classrooms the morning of Oct. 26 to participate in a walkout. The crowd stood outside the main doors of the high school, some carrying signs, to protest the district’s safety response to two-consecutive days of separate threats that left students and parents scared to come back.

“The care for this student body has time and again come too little, too late. We want change. We need change,” said Cailey Wallace, one of the high school students who organized the protest. She said that while she was happy to see such a big crowd, the reason was nothing to celebrate.

Throughout the walkout, Wallace and other students criticized the district’s initial response Oct. 20, when a 17-year-old boy entered the school with a loaded handgun and robbed a student of some belongings.

For Wallace, it was the silence of the school and district, along with a “lack of enforcement” of school policy concerning who does and does not enter the school, that set them off.

“There was not a single announcement via administration,” she said. “There was no lockdown. There was no attempt to keep him off school grounds and away from students. If a situation like this doesn’t meet the requirements for a lockdown, I really don’t know what would.”

The next day, students at both schools went into a modified lockdown after students received a “vague general threat” Oct . 21 through AirDrop. The lockdown was ended after the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office determined it wasn’t a credible threat.

Wallace saw the response in the latest incident as an attempt to save face from the previous safety concern. The lockdown, she said, was “not done out of concern for our safety. This was done out of concern for image.”

Students protested peacefully for approximately two hours before returning to classes. An email from CKHS principal Craig Johnson to parents and students acknowledged the walkout and proper conduct during it.

“After voicing their concerns in a respectful manner, they returned to class,” he said. “We honor student efforts to express their opinions.”

Two students hold up a sign with the message "Don't Add CKHS to This List," followed by a list (out of picture) of schools where shootings have taken place in 2022.