Safe Schools Rally planned for Sunday

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Efforts by a number of metro teens trying to make a difference during this national movement of marches and walk-outs. Their idea took a ton of planning – and reaching out of their comfort zone.

Schools often forge rivals – often times through sports – but this is one of those rallies where schools from across the metro will join together with messages of respect and kindness.

Over lunch Tuesday a number of Papillion La Vista South Student Council members designed messages for this weekend’s Safe School Rally.

The ideas share a theme, to “choose kindness” – and “we’re better for being in this together.”

As students at other schools walked out, the voice of the student body talked with the principal about doing something different.

“We want adults to see that we want change – and it’s their job as adults to fix it for us. We want them to know we want change and have safer schools -- and when we come here, we want to feel safe,” said Papio South senior Chandler Ashburn.

“That’s the conversation I had with my kids,” Papio South Principal Jeff Johnson told 6 News. “What is walking out at 10am during a school day have to do with making our schools safer?”

These signs will be a part of the rally at the Papio South football stadium. A number of other high schools are also planning on attending and voicing their perspective on school safety.

Those who can make change will also be there – lawmakers, mayors and police chiefs.

“Our takeaway is we can make a difference,” said Papio South junior Emma Farson. “We’re just high school students – I’m not old enough to vote yet. Are you?”

Chandler: “No.”

Emma: “We can still make a difference without voting.”

The teens also recognize some things are under their control such as making sure bullying and harassment stop by leading as examples and that treating each other with respect – in person – and online – can fend off many potential problems.

6 News asked the Student Council leadership if their ideas for the rally were met with any resistance.

They said some students told them that the parkland shooting couldn’t happen here. Of course – the students reminded them of the school shooting at Millard South in 2011.

In fact, one of the students who was here then – Kyler Erickson – will give the keynote speech at Sunday’s event at Papio South.