By Ale Navarro, Rylee Storms and Jennifer Valencia
Students from Everest Public High School joined the nationwide walkout on March 14, from 10 to 10:17, to pay respect to the 17 victims from the Parkland shooting. Students gathered in the front lot, stepping up to speak out about why they are passionate about having gun control. When each student finished sharing, their fellow students roared applause and yells of approval and motivation. (Click here to see a video of the protest.)
A group of students then set out for downtown. The footsteps of students could be heard along the busy roads of Redwood City. As workers took a look at the students, a few thumbs up were given. A sign reading “Honk for better gun control” was held tall against the wind. As people in cars read the signs, the honking sounds of agreement rang out and student cheers followed suit.
After marching into downtown Redwood City, Everest students were met by students from other schools: Sequoia High School, Woodside High School, Summit Preparatory Charter High School and Menlo-Atherton High School. The quintet of schools gathered in the open cement square in front of the San Mateo County History Museum. Among the crowd, leaders from each school stood tall and yelled out cheers.
The group then moved to City Hall to meet with Redwood City Vice Mayor Diane Howard. Ms. Howard gave a speech to the students, expressing support for their commitment to peaceful protest and encouraging them to seek respectful dialogue. Once the speech was over, the students headed to the courthouse.
At the courthouse, many speeches were made; yells mixed with chants were made to grab pedestrians’ attention. After about an hour more of protest, students dispersed to get lunch and head home.
The March 14 walkout was approved and was able to go forward with the support of the faculty. Everest junior Isabella Gutierrez decided to join the walkout. “I feel that our school has not discussed the issue of school shootings enough, and I feel that with our current administration and the political status of the U.S. this is a very important topic to talk about, considering the difference between Republicans and Democrats and the possibility of our president arming teachers. I also feel that it’s important to find the solution since 7,000 kids have died due to gun violence,” she said.
Everest Assistant Director Drew Moriates said, “I think it’s really important for students to be able to express their voice in a meaningful way; one of the parts of our mission at Summit and Everest is for us to develop contributing members of society, and I think this is a perfect example of that.”
He added, “I think that the experience is one which people are going to remember for a long time so as a school our job is to do that and to keep our students safe, and I think yesterday we achieved that.”
There was a lot of confusion about the communications that were sent to parents and students regarding how Everest was going to approach the walkout. Several emails were sent, the first of which (a note in the school newsletter, excerpted below) stated that parents only had to call the front desk to give permission to their child to participate in the walkout.
The next day, another email was sent, saying that a parent or guardian had to be physically present to sign their child out.
The day after the walkout, Mr. Moriates addressed the confusion in an interview, saying: “Our procedure to be a part of the walkout did not change; the communication, as always, is if a student is going to leave campus they need to have a parent come physically here to sign them out and allow them to leave. There was some miscommunication in relationship to an email that went out from our Expeditions team and an email that was sent out from our Everest team, so I think that is were there was a gap; but in the end of the day, I think we did a good job communicating with families as to what we needed to have happen for our students leave campus, and that is moving forward any event whether it’s a doctors appointment or a walkout a parent will have to be able to come physically sign a student out and take them off campus because our job is to again keep students safe and in order to do that we needed to make sure that students are in the care of an adult whether the adult is an administrator or whether the adult is there parents or guardian that is on their legal documents.”
Here’s the email the Expeditions director sent out the Sunday before the walkout:
The Expeditions team encouraged teachers to let student leaders present a slideshow they had prepared explaining their plans to march to City Hall following the rally. Here’s the information from the slideshow (which was also published on our site on Tuesday) about how students should engage with the protest:
The Everest administration attempted to clear up confusion the morning of the walkout by sending a final email:
With all of the confusing and misleading emails sent out, some students, such as Everest freshman Raul Hernandez, said they were unable to participate in the walkout. Hernandez said, “Mr. Lewine told me that if I were to leave they were going to call my parents and tell them that I ditched.” He added that not being able to march downtown upset him, “but at least I could participate outside.”
The evening of the walkout, Everest administration sent one more email, reiterating their commitment to student expression.
Expeditions Director Lucretia Witte shared similar sentiments in an email statement the day after the walkout:
During the walkout, there was also a group of students who staged a counter protest in favor of gun rights. Everest sophomore Jacob Press spoke of the need to also have their voices heard. “The reason that I voiced my opinion with my other peers is that we felt kinda silenced in some way because all of these other people were having their opinion; we thought maybe we wanted to hear, have our opinion heard, being more pro-gun than other people.”
This group of four to five counter protesters went to speak to the vice mayor about their views on gun control, arriving and leaving before the main group of protesters got to City Hall. “Our goal: maybe just to have our voice heard by the vice mayor, which we did have, and, yeah, that was probably our goal, just to have our voice heard,” Press said.
Here are some additional images from the protest:
Students from Summit Public School: Tahoma in San Jose also rallied against gun violence, joining with students from their sister campus, Oak Grove High School, to honor the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting.
The images above were captured by Tahoma freshman Kent Williams. Tahoma senior Jasmin Mendoza captured live video on her Twitter feed:
— Jasmin (@journalistsjas) March 14, 2018
Students from Summit Public School: Denali also participated in a rally. The images below are courtesy of Expeditions teacher Aaron Calvert.