Editorial: Walkouts

Editorial: Walkouts

The Sagamore’s editorials are written by a board of writers and reviewed by volunteer staff. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of each individual staff member.

We’ve all seen it before: a megaphone turns on, and a sea of voices turn quiet. The school’s classrooms are empty and the speeches begin. Students push through nerves and speak up about the issues they care about. And then after 20 minutes pass, everyone files back to their classrooms to finish whatever work they left behind.

Since the beginning of 2022, there have been four walkouts at the high school: the National Queer Youth Walkout, the Student Response to Racist Videos in March, Support for Abortion Rights in May and most recently, the Climate Strike in September. Many students walk out in earnest, leaving mid-way through class to show honest support—but sometimes we wonder just how powerful these walkouts are. Do they lead to action? Or have student-led walkouts begun to lose their impact?

Student action at the high school has a long and storied history. In the 1970s there was a three-day-long strike against the Vietnam War drafts, and in more recent years, a walkout was organized by students in the African American and Latino Scholars Program following numerous racist videos containing students from the high school. When the Westboro Baptist Church protested the high school’s GSA in 2009, there was a major silent protest. Clearly, activism has always been an integral part of our culture; the current wave of advocacy is just a continuation. Multiple walkouts in a year, however, are a more recent development.

The walkouts we’ve seen at the high school have been most powerful when they addressed problems in education, personally relating to the community. With the March for Our Lives movement, students walked out to convey that being in school is physically unsafe due to gun violence. When the student-organized walkout responded to racist videos, there was poignant symbolism as well. Hundreds of students missed class in an act to emphasize the harm the administration caused when they removed some Black freshmen from their classes on account of another student’s behavior.

The National Queer Youth Walkout also felt pertinent to the school community, as it had to do with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and impacted queer students in school. Although The Support for Abortion Rights and Climate Strike walkouts also addressed important issues, the walkouts’ connection to the immediate school community was weak.