Administrative actions deter student activism

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Administrative actions deter student activism


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By Mia Daignault ’20

Photo by Ginger Ellis ’20

 

It was 9:58 a.m. and I was sitting in my Italian class waiting to hear the herds in the hallway and the sound of crumpling paper being thrown away into backpacks. I was readying myself for the excitement of voice and change led by fellow Staples students.
Once the clock hit 10 o’clock, the excitement died down. I, along with two other students, were the sole representatives of my Italian class that morning. When the time came, I glanced around the classroom, waiting for additional students to follow, but none did. We hurried out as our teacher repeated warnings of unexcused work that the rest of the class stayed to complete.
Absurd, foolish and uncalled for are the exact words I would use to describe the administration’s decision regarding the walkout and Principal James D’Amico’s email is what really put me over the edge. His email essentially stated the ramifications of student participation: unexcused absences, no re-entry into the school and no participation allowed in after-school activities– all because of this National Walkout. I quickly realized that there would be absolutely no flexibility on behalf of the administration.
After D’Amico’s email was sent out, I definitely noticed my classmates and friends had changed their mind about the walkout instantly. Those who supported the walkout felt like they could not participate because they feared of administrative consequences. It discouraged students from speaking out and called for a smaller crowd of protesters to voice their opinions.
We, students of Staples High School, were receiving consequences for an attempt to create a safer school environment, which could theoretically save the lives of students and faculty members.
The administration made a poor judgement regarding the walkout. Teachers at Staples tend to say that they want the best for the students, but with the aforementioned decision, it must be hard for students to continue to believe that assertion. This walkout was not only a walkout for our school, it was a walkout that students around the world participated in as well. According to ENOUGH 1, “students and staff have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being gunned down in their classrooms or on their way home from school.” As part of creating a feeling of security and comfort, I believe Staples should have been a more supportive community when it came to hearing student voices.
Walkouts are a crucial way for student voices to be heard. Students who rarely speak up– students who you wouldn’t associate with such powerful convictions on such a topic– have a chance to voice what they believe in. While other students believe that a walkout isn’t a walkout without penalties, I beg to differ. To me, a walkout is the only way to communicate our rights and resist against the NRA. As students, we are the generation of change. We have the ability to do something about the issue of gun violence when those before us have not. I see no reason in merely waiting for change to happen when we have the power to enact change now. Students cannot just sit around and complain about feeling unsafe in school if they aren’t willing to do anything about it.
We should hope and push to be the next generation who says goodbye to gun violence. We can be the ones who save future lives and the ones who let our voices be heard.

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