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Elmira High School Students take Different Approach to National School Walkouts

"Talk it out not walk out." That was the message Wednesday at Elmira High School. 

"We want to encourage students to walk up to someone and make conversation and kind of get to know people instead of walking out and dividing themselves," Olivia Lovejoy, a senior at Elmira High School said. 

Students and staff working together on an initiative they say gets to the root of the problem in many of the mass shooter scenarios we've seen play out in schools across the country. 

"What we really had focused on today was how to make Elmira High School a better place, a safer place, a kinder place because if you look at the stereotype, the scenarios of lone shooters, they're usually somebody that was depressed and alienated within the building so we are really trying to make a focus to reach out to all students in the building and make them feel warm and welcome here and comfortable," Principal Christopher Krantz said. 

Students created video and organized a live panel discussion to tackle the issues of school safety and accountability. 

"We really wanted to allow students and staff to ask us questions and ask our principal questions about the safety of the school. There are a lot of reforms that we're doing in our school to do different safety procedures and so we really wanted to get that out to students to let them know that we are taking precautions should this ever happened here," Lovejoy said. 

"We talked about different questions that we had or others may have had and we went over the different safety procedures and had a very open conversation about it," Tallulah Keeleyleclaire, a senior at Elmira High School said. 

Krantz says the administration is taking the questions raised in the discussion seriously and is already making some changes. 

"There were great questions, and in an effort to be proactive and not just reactive, we continue to log those questions and we're going to address them with local law-enforcement agencies and our safety team that's going to include faculty, staff, and students and take a look at all of our procedures and see if we're still stuck in 20th-Century and proceeded to 21st-Century. Things are changing so policies have to change and safety procedures have to change," Krantz said. 

Students believe their "personal" rather than "political" approach is a step in the right direction. 

"Having the whole walkout today, I think that a lot of schools intent was to have 17 peaceful minutes of not just protesting necessarily but just standing in their memory I think that's kind of what we wanted to focus more on especially because the politics aren't going to come from our school. We don't have a direct line to make a new bill so I think it's important to focus on your school and what we can change," Keeleyleclaire said. 

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