Students walk out of class for peaceful protest

Marchers show opposition to Trump agenda


Jordan Rouse

More than 100 students walked out of classes at 4 p.m. and protested at the front of the campus on Feb. 1 surrounding the school's marquee. Administrators and police monitored the protest as students marched down S. First St. and then circled the outside of the school.

Bee Barto, Editor-in-Chief

More than 100 students walked out of classrooms a little after 4 p.m. on Wednesday, marching around the campus to show their opposition to the agenda of President Donald Trump.

Jordan Rouse

Four days before the protest, an anonymous student first presented the idea of staging a walkout using a Twitter account with the handle @AkinsProtest, suggesting that it take place at Feb. 1 during 4th period. Students spread word of the protest on social media and were told to meet up in the courtyard. They were encouraged to bring signs and asked that participants keep it peaceful and “spread love and compassion.”

Besides the Twitter posts, students mostly kept the idea for the walkout to themselves. However, it appeared that administrators had learned about the protest before it began because they security was patrolling the halls and courtyard shortly before the protest was set to begin.

When they encountered hall monitors and administrators, the poster behind he @akinsprotest Twitter account said “seems like the security staff doesn’t like the idea of us protesting, are you gonna let that stop us?”

Despite the security presence, the students pressed on with the protest, streaming out of classrooms at 4 p.m. However, administrators prevented them from congregating in the courtyard. Instead, students changed course and gathered on the sidewalk along S. First St. near the Akins marquee sign.

It began with just a few people, but it quickly grew into a mass of students protesting their beliefs under the Akins High School sign.

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The crowd came together and as a unit they marched around the campus, gaining more and more members. Meanwhile the staff monitored the situation, keeping the group moving so things wouldn’t get out of hand.

Senior Dominique Huizar said the students were determined to have their voices heard.

“We don’t care how long it takes we will march to the Capitol if we have to,” she said.

Some students said they weren’t sure if the protest was going to actually happen at all or if it did, if it was going to be a real protest or just an excuse to get out of class.

However, many that were there showed passion for what they were doing, speaking out against a wide range of things President Trump said he plans to do or is already doing. Some spoke out against the Muslim immigration ban. Others protested to protect LGBTQ+ rights.

They marched around the campus, holding up signs, until coming back to a separate part of S. First Street. After realizing there was a television news van from KXAN, the protesters surrounded it and chanted “Not my president!” as well as some vulgar statements, regarding Trump.

With what started as a handful of students at the front of the school, grew to significantly more than 100 students. The crowd came together and chanted, “People united, we will not be divided” sending their message to the Austin community and beyond.

The Reaction

Senior Evelyn Costuros said she wasn’t opposed to people exercising their freedom of speech, but believes it should have been done at an appropriate time.

“I don’t know if it had to be during school at all,” she said.

Junior Caitlin Powell said she agrees that millennials need to express their opinions because they are perceived as not caring. Powell also believes “The idea of it was good but the overall execution wasn’t… because a lot of people didn’t know what they were protesting for.”

Math teacher Michael Fenech said he understood why students would want to stage a protest, but was upset with the students who just used it as an excuse to skip class.

“What I don’t agree with is the students who just jumped on the bandwagon and just wanted to get out of class,” Fenech said. “I believe the majority of people who went there went for the cause. I think a small percentage just wanted to get out of class.”

You sent a message yesterday by doing that, but that can’t be your go-to method. At some point that will affect you negatively. While I’m sure that yesterday will be one of these moments that you’ll remember forever, but you must find alternative ways to get your message across.”

— Principal Brandi Hosack

On Thursday, Principal Brandi Hosack addressed students using the school intercom to discuss the protest and provide guidance to students who are frustrated about the proposed new policies of the Trump administration.

She began by saying that she couldn’t share her personal beliefs about the protest, but then cautioned students to not walk out of school to get the most out of their education.

“I cannot comment on whether I or any other adult agrees or disagrees I will tell you that I’m thankful that it was mostly done in a peaceful manner. The administrators chose not to prevent it, and only to monitor for safety.” Hosack explained. “We want you to be a engaged with your community; however, as your principal I do have a deeper message for all of you regardless of which side or branch you stand on,  the ultimate thing that some will judge you in this life – especially in an Intellectual debate such as politics – will be your education so don’t sacrifice the education opportunity provided to you here.”

She said walking out of class can’t be the answer.

“You sent a message yesterday by doing that but that can’t be your go-to method,” Hosack said. “At some point that will affect you negatively. While I’m sure that yesterday will be one of these moments that you’ll remember forever, but you must find alternative ways to get your message across. Find a way for your government representative to hear your voice, write them a letter, tweet at them, show up at the Capitol with your fellow protesters, if that’s what you choose to do.”

Policy makers don’t get the message when people protest at their homes or at there schools, Hosack said.

“Ultimately, don’t sacrifice your education, finish high school, and go to college. Don’t fight fire with fire,” she said. “Education is the one thing that someone can’t take away from you. That is what Dr. Akins believes as do other adults in this building. I want you to have a great day I want you to learn something today. I want you to be spiffingly engaged with learning, and I want you to do it with class.”