March 14th Protest: Unrest in Our Halls

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3/13/18

1:08 PM

We are settled into our 4th period class. My peers have been talking about the protest tomorrow. Some were already thinking about signs. The PA system screeches to life. “We have gotten many questions asking about our stance on the protest happening at 10 tomorrow.”

We are informed that we need passes to walk out.

 

2:29 PM

I shuffle out the door and down to the main office. The line is already out of the door and I’m one of the first students. I sign the sheet and get a pass. I make my way out while students flood the doors.

 

3/14/18

7:15 AM

I pass the offices on my way in. There’s still a steady stream of kids coming in and out. I feel a little sick, watching kids joke about getting out of class.

 

8:40 AM

The PA screeches awake. We’re told there will be more passes issued during passing time.

 

8:42 AM

I’m passing the offices to get to class. The throng in the middle of the offices is nearly impossible to walk through.

“Go to class, we’re out of passes!”

White school shuts its doors. I look over the group of kids, laughing, yelling, and acting foolishly,  and I can tell that too many of them are here for the wrong reasons.

 

9:52 AM

“Would the protestors make their way to the John Burns Theater please?”

“You should only be in that halls if you have a pass,”

This isn’t what this protest is meant to be, I think, watching kids joke and run through the halls. I join my friends in sullen silence.

“How much you wanna bet there are bouncers at the door?”

I climb up on shoulders and benches to look ahead. To my horror, there really are.

 

10:00 AM

We’ve started to grow restless in our seats, checking the clocks. We were supposed to be outside by now.

“When I was in high school, the Gulf War had just started. I walked out for all the wrong reasons.”

We had sat in front. There wasn’t many of us. Kids crammed into the back, chatting back and forth. The lecture fell on deaf ears.

 

We start outside, single file. Kids held up their signs.

“We’ve had enough!”

“Our schools need funds! Not guns!”

We knew why we were here.

I took my phone out for a picture of some of the signs.

“PUT YOUR PHONES AWAY!”

Why? Did they not want us sharing our message?

We were sent to the back of the school, to the track.

“There’s too many of us to cram around the flagpole,”

We wanted to be in front. Where we would be heard. Where we would be seen.

 

Kids to my left were shoving, joking loudly. Their focus wasn’t on the protest.

“SINGLE FILE!”

I got in behind my friends, feeling sick. Something was honestly wrong.

“EVERYBODY BE QUIET!”

“This isn’t a protest,” my friend snapped. “This is a joke,”

I watched a kid duck off into the words. For a second I thought about joining him.

“KEEP MOVING DOWN!”

 

We stood shoulder to shoulder.

“I’M STARTING THE CLOCK!”

I bowed my head. My friend grabbed my hand. I reached for the person beside me. Hands clasped, we stood in silence.

 

Several minutes pass. I hadn’t moved. I hadn’t said a word.

I don’t know if it was the wind and the cold, but I began crying.

Not even five minutes in other kids were laughing. They were joking.

“We’re gonna get gunned down soon, just you watch.”

I thought I was going to be sick.

 

10:31 AM

“THAT’S IT! GO TO CLASS!”

“That wasn’t even 17 minutes,” I hear a girl whisper.

“That was a joke. This is awful. This isn’t what this is about,”

 

“Hey, can you guys help me?”

We take a deep breath, and shout out the tune of a familiar chant.

“WE! WE CAN! WE CAN BE THE CHANGE!”

“Man, I’m tired of this,” a girl snaps.

“Then why are you here?” My friend snaps back.

 

10:35 AM

We’re walking down the halls, disheartened.

A teacher catches us on our way back to class.

“How did the protest go?”

“We were completely undermined,” I say.

“We didn’t even get to stay the whole time. We didn’t get to actually protest.” My friend pitches in.

“That sucks,”

 

10:38 AM

I sit in my desk and pull out a notebook. I scribble down times and dates. I decided to write an article. I decided this unrest deserves to be recognized.

 

3/15/18

“I’m writing an article,” I start telling people. “What upset you about the protest? What do you want to say?”

 

“It was a joke,”

 

“We should redo it,”

 

“Other schools were yelling and hollering, jumping around with signs. We were regulated. We were restricted. Administrators would jump down our throats if we stepped out of line.”

 

“Why were we hidden in the back? What kind of protest is that? The community drove by, saw no one, and assumed Park doesn’t care.”

 

We do care. At least some of us.

 

A teacher of mine hands me a pile of papers from one of her classes. They were statements, complaints, thoughts on the protest.

 

“It should have been out choice instead of giving out passes because not only did it ruin the purpose but most people only went to miss class.”

“I don’t agree with what most people are saying, but I agree that they shouldn’t have stepped in and changed everything.”

 

“The freshmen weren’t allowed to go. That’s denying their right to protest.”

 

“The people who knew about it should have been able to go, not advertise it so people could get out of class.”

 

“We were silence, not even visible to the public. It’s complete BS.”

 

3/16/18

At this point I’ve been reading articles. I’ve skimmed through facts and opinions, studies and publications. I stumble across the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

Article 19 – Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

 

I laughed a little, thinking about this. We have a right, and we have the right to demand it.

 

3/20/18

At this point, the protest is buried in the back of most people’s minds. They’re sick of talking about it and they’re tired of feeling disappointed.

However, it’s essential we don’t let this fade away. We have a responsibility to continue our push for change. Who will if we don’t?

 

For decades, social change has been pioneered by youths, but never before has such a successful movement been spearheaded by predominantly high school students. We, as the future generation of leaders, parents, teachers, are responsible for the change we want to see in the world. It is our responsibility to secure our future. It is our duty to demand change.

 

Because we can be the change.

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