BHS Hosts School Safety Forum With State Legislatures & Beltrami Law Enforcement
The students of Bemidji High School were concerned about safety on campus, which is why they decided to host a forum with our elected officials and law enforcement to voice their concerns.
The BHS Student Council started planning this forum a little over a month ago. The student council members were the one who asked the questions on stage, but every kid in the school was invited to submit beforehand. The auditorium was filled with students, eager to hear the answers to some of their most adamant concerns.
“I believe our goal for the forum was just trying to get the students more informed on issues and then feel safer at the school that they’re attending,” says Sunny Werlein, the BHS Student Council president.
“I was very excited to see the questions. They were very thought out. There was a very very broad spectrum of questions and they didn’t stay focused in one area. They had questions and they wanted answers all the way around that different spectrum,” says Beltrami County Chief Deputy Ernie Beitel, who was a part of the forum. Others on the forum included Rep. Steve Green (R), Rep. Matt Bliss (R), Sen. Paul Utke (R), Sen. Justin Eichorn (R), BHS adminstrator Dr. Jason Stanoch, and Captain Dave LaZella with the Bemidji Police Department.
The topics in the discussion ranged in question on gun policy, mental health, social media and texting while driving. There was also some discussion about a 50 million dollar grant that could potentially go to the school district and about how that money would be administered.
“If the state legislatures decide to allocate that money, the Bemidji Area School district will spend that money on what we and in participation with students and administrations in the school district feel that we can make the best effort to ensure the safety of all our students,” says school board member Ann Long Voelkner.
At the end of the forum, students in the audience were allowed to ask additional questions to the panel, as well as voice their opinions face-to-face.
“One of the most important things I felt about the forum was that I am so proud of our Bemidji area schools and students and administration and especially the student council for working really hard at pulling this forum together,” says Long Voelkner.
“We weren’t able to go over all the questions, but I think that the questions that they were able to go over definitely trickled into the other questions that were left and that they covered thoroughly the questions that were asked, so I guess I feel more informed, so I’m assuming that the students in the crowd also feel more informed about what is happening at a state level for school safety,” says Werlein.
When it comes to safety regarding violence in our schools, Chief Deputy Beitel says they’re office is prepared for an emergency. In addition, the school board adds that they are always open to hearing student’s opinions and concerns at their meetings.