School violence topic of public forum

Students to lead discussion at WICA talk

The conversation about school violence continues Thursday evening at Langley’s Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.

The center “welcomes the community to come together to address an issue in our society that deeply affects our children,” WICA Executive Director Stacie Burgua said in a press release. “What can we do collectively to make our community safe? This is a chance to be heard and a chance to listen with respect.”

Leading the discussion will be Jessica Johnson, president of the South Whidbey High School’s Social Justice Club. She and other students will talk about the March for our Lives movement that galvanized following the Feb. 14 mass shooting of students and faculty at a Parkland, Fla. public school.

Many local students participated in last week’s National School Walkout that lasted 17 minutes, representing the 17 victims of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Some are planning to participate Saturday in regional events affiliated with the national March for Our Lives protest in Washington, D.C.

Invited to join the discussion are South Whidbey Schools Superintendent Jo Moccia, Langley Mayor Tim Callison, Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson and Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton. Rick Felici, chief criminal deputy for the Island County Sheriff’s Office, plans to address current preparations in response to an active shooter incident.

• Community conversation; 7:30 p.m. March 22, WICA in Langley. Free, open to the public. Standing in Solidarity with youth; 10 a.m. to noon, March 24, Cascade Avenue, Langley. Bring a spare pair of shoes to represent those who have been lost to gun violence; they will then be donated to Good Cheer.

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