By Keith Dinh and Judy Ly
During the lunch break today, Rainier students protested peacefully off-campus on the courts of their co-located school, Mt. Pleasant High School, in hopes of bringing change to restrictions that have been placed on blacktop access.
During lunch breaks, students are now restricted from being on Mt. Pleasant’s blacktops and are limited to Rainier’s outdoor hallways and quad.
Summit Rainier is a charter school that is part of the Summit Public Schools network; it is currently co-located with Mt. Pleasant on that school’s campus in Eastside San Jose.
Rainier senior Joe Pinkney explained that not having the blacktop as an outlet to release energy for himself and his peers causes personal effects.
“It’s causing me to not be able to focus in class as much. And it’s just all around making me not as excited to come to school here,” he said.
Rainier Dean of Operations Lupe Trujillo confirmed that police officers were called to the scene by Mt. Pleasant High School because of the presence of Rainier students on their campus courts. It is confirmed Mt. Pleasant had prior knowledge of the protest and called police officers to the scene before the scheduled event.
In addition, Mt. Pleasant faculty was also present on the blacktop during the protest. In an interview with Mt. Pleasant’s principal Martha Guerrero, she said the protest disrupted Mt. Pleasant students’ lunch.
“We have a contract in place with — between Summit and the Eastside Union High School District — and this is my students’ lunchtime and they are not having access to the blacktop.”
Principal Guerrero explained, “Because Summit Rainier and Mt. Pleasant are two different schools, students need to be separated.”
Anwar Darkazanli, the physics teacher at Rainier, was surprised at students coming together to hold a protest.
Mr. Darkazanli said, “ I understand where they’re coming from — a lot of frustration around schedule changes — I do hope that it leads to some change, but I don’t think that it will at this point. I think it’s a little too late.”
Since the announcement of blacktop restrictions, Rainier faculty has attempted to provide outlets for students to release their energy during break.
Pinkney expressed safety concerns with a basketball hoop Rainier faculty put up in front of a wall.
“I already saw kids banging themselves into the wall — and not on purpose — on accident, trying to go for a layup,” he said.
He added, “The students need to be able to run around, and just as I’m seeing right now, just they’re running around; just laughing; having a good time, and I thought that got stripped away from them without really any thought at all.”
See below for photos of the Rainier protest in favor of blacktop access:
Featured image above: Rainier students gather outside of Rainier’s campus to protest new restrictions during their lunch break. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh