The ideas represented within this article are opinions in nature and are solely that of the author. They may not wholly reflect the stance of The Forest Scout newspaper as a publication. This piece was originally shared on the author’s Facebook page on the date of March 14, 2018.
Do you know when you come home from school everyday and your parents ask you, “Honey, what’d you do at school today?” I, like most kids, normally respond with, “Nothing.” Well mom and dad, today, I actually did something.
Today is March 14—the day of National School Walkout. Many of my peers at Lake Forest High School have been preparing for this day. You could hear the excitement in the halls this morning as kids were getting ready to be given a voice. This was empowering to see my friends exercise their rights as students, especially as newly registered voter.
It was about two weeks before the walkout that I noticed my rights being violated. We were sent out an email discussing the logistics of the walkout and immediately I noticed major red flags. The directions for students were simple: if you wanted to be apart of the walkout, you went outside. If you didn’t, you were herded into the commons/cafeteria. This not only divided a student body but ostracized those who may want to pay respect to the tragedy in Florida, but not make a political statement that many made on the front lawn today.
I didn’t like my options, for they violated my rights as a student given to me through the Tinker v. Des Moines case of 1969. The case ruled that students are allowed to protest in school (which is great!!!) as long as it doesn’t disrupt the students’ learning.
No one was allowed to stay in the classroom today. Despite the safety reasons, this violates our rights as students.
So, I stayed in the classroom.
My teacher was not happy about it. As my peers were shuffled out of the room, he called my dean. My dean made him sit there with me. My teacher and I had a very respectful discussion about why I was doing this and I continued doing my AP Bio study guide—the reason I came to that class.
This sit-in was not to protest what my peers were saying outside, but the administration who had divided the student body of a school I love so much. Although, I don’t agree necessarily with all that walking out stood for, I respect my peers’ opinions and their right to the freedom of speech. If the protest was flipped, and everyone was going outside and speaking out about something I’m passionate about, such as being pro-life, I wouldn’t want my friends with differing opinions than me to be removed from their classrooms and denied their right to an education. That’s not fair, but that’s what happened today.
Like religion, politics should be left out of the classroom. Students go to school to learn and grow and develop as adults with opinions, like yours truly. I am proud of the person I am today because of the teachers who have helped me form an educated opinion. My beliefs are not the beliefs of my parents. This all wouldn’t be possible without my right to education.
Some solutions or alternatives to this protest could have included:
-17 minutes of silence at the beginning of the day in memory of the students Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
-a walkout facilitated by students, not teachers, and anyone who participated not be marked tardy. This would allow students who don’t wish to participate to stay in the classroom and teachers continue teaching.
-wearing orange to show solidarity for the movement.
I wrote this, not to start a political debate in the comment section, but to ask for a formal apology from the school to those who felt ostracized and the rest of the student body I love so much. Anyone that knows me knows, I am not one to question authority or cause trouble. That said, I shouldn’t be almost sent to my dean for standing up for what I believe in. I understand that my teacher was following the “protocol” he was probably given for the walk out, but regardless, the protocol is not fair. The walk out was divisive, and division is not Lake Forest High School.
I also wrote this to inspire others. We have a voice as students, and today I made sure mine was heard.