‘You Should Be Able to Feel Safe at School’

This month, students at Seneca Valley High School in Germantown evacuated twice in one week due to safety threats, including reports of a bomb threat. 

They sheltered in place in October after the school received another threat.  And in the same month, a football game against Northwest High School was cut short after a series of student fights.

Now, students want school administration and political leaders to better ensure school safety following the recent threats and violence. On Friday, several Seneca Valley students gathered outside the school with signs to protest for their right to safety while learning. They were joined by students from Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg.

“All the shelters-in-place, the lockdowns, the unexpected bomb threats we’ve been having,” said Yeimy Arango, a senior at Seneca Valley who organized the protest. “And it’s not just that — we’ve been having so many fights at school.”

It’s totally unacceptable. We need change because you should be able to feel safe at school,” she said. Arango detailed student demands in an online petition, which had 175 signatures as of Monday afternoon. Demands include transparency during/after conflicts, more counselors, social-emotional learning and trauma-informed care, policies for more restorative services, mandatory mental health screening, legislation for better-trained security guards and a more secure sign-in system, among other asks. Students plan to take their concerns to the County Council and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) school board.

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