The Forest Scout

Opinion: Something happened at school yesterday

Francesca Mancini

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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.

About the Writer
Francesca Mancini, Author

Francesca Mancini is a senior at Lake Forest High School and guest author of The Forest Scout.


7 Responses to “Opinion: Something happened at school yesterday”

  1. Julie on March 15th, 2018 11:07 am

    So good to see this kind of thoughtfulness, courage, initiative, and writing talent to boot!

  2. Francesca’s mom on March 15th, 2018 11:51 am

    Beautiful said by someone wise beyond her years

  3. Madeleine on March 15th, 2018 12:14 pm

    Thoughtful, well spoken, and the type of voice that has been smothered by those in education who think their view is the only moral one. Thank you, Francesca, for having the courage to lend your opinion in a somewhat hostile environment. How wonderful if your actions enlightened educators to give students another side of an issue… and not one that the NEA or their own political party espouses.

  4. Cecile on March 15th, 2018 5:14 pm

    Spot on, Francesca!!! So well-written; a clear, concise, ACCURATE and thoughtful (and thought-provoking!) article. Somehow, our Constitutional Right of Freedom of Speech has been quashed by the media unless it supports a liberal agenda. Thank you for lending your voice.
    Nicely done!!

  5. Jessica on March 15th, 2018 6:06 pm

    In no way do I completely understand the why behind the administration’s decision to congregate the students inside. I can only glean some understanding from the emails sent out to parents, as well as being trained myself for emergencies. I think it is very likely that the decision was made due to the resources available to keep the students safe. With so many outside, teachers followed for the purpose of monitoring them and keeping them safe. So then who is in all the various classrooms for the other students? Not enough, hence the choice to congregate at one location inside. It seems that it was the safest decision given their resources. I don’t know if the cost of having a number of substitutes there that day for the 17 minutes of students being able to stay in the classroom is justifiable. I believe asking the question, “why?” to the powers that be would have given you an understanding so that you would not have seen their decision as offensive but one made on a risk/benefit analysis.

  6. Madeleine on March 18th, 2018 10:43 am

    Jessica, I’m going to interject here and say that you are focusing on the decision to move children to one location inside… when Francesca was asking why this action had been sanctioned by the administration in the first place.

  7. Anthony on March 18th, 2018 11:03 am

    Most schools that allowed this protest also protected the scheduled school time rights of the non protesting students. If the school was unable to protect the non-protesting students’ class time rights while still protecting the safety of the protesters, then the protest should have been scheduled during non school hours.
    Unfortunately, “student safety” ended up conspicuously used by the superintendent on down through the administration as a thin veil to allow faculty and administration to participate in a political protest while still being paid by tax payer money. Lake Forest and Lake Bluff taxpayers make large sacrifices so that school administration and teachers are well compensated in order to teach their respected courses during scheduled class time. Applicable law does not allow for faculty to engage in political protests while being compensated by the school district. It’s disturbing that “student safety” was falsely used to facilitate a political faculty protest during school hours.
    I can assure those involved that the tax payers will not forget the process surrounding this event.

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