Who’s The Priority?

Students Walk-out to Protest DCSD School Board

Students+cheer+at+honking+cars+driving+by+the+protest+Feb.+7.+After+walking+laps+around+the+campus%2C+protesters+gathered+at+the+intersection+of+McArthur+Ranch+Road+and+Monarch+Boulevard+for+the+remainder+of+the+walkout.

photo by Claire Bauer

Students cheer at honking cars driving by the protest Feb. 7. After walking laps around the campus, protesters gathered at the intersection of McArthur Ranch Road and Monarch Boulevard for the remainder of the walkout.

by Claire Bauer and Grace Uhrain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Who’s the priority? We are the priority! Remove corruption for our education!” Students shouted in unison at a student walk-out Feb. 7. 

After days of high tensions, public debates, petitions passed around, and a teacher sick-out Feb. 3, the pot ultimately boiled over and students took their turn expressing themselves at a student-led school walk-out, Monday afternoon. A number of schools across Douglas County School District (DCSD) participated, intending to protest the DCSD school board’s recent actions, including the decision to fire Superintendent Corey Wise, the breaking of the Colorado Sunshine law, debate over the district’s equity policy, and more. 

Walk-outs took place at Rock Canyon High School, Legend High School, Highlands Ranch High School, ThunderRidge High school, and more. Students wore black to school to show their unity and to “mourn the loss of student voices in the county,” according to social media posts organizing the event. The Rock Canyon portion of the district-wide student walk-out was organized by student activists Frankie Stroud ‘22 and Krish Kumar ‘22. 

“Once I learned that other high schools in Douglas County were organizing walk-outs to protest the school board, I utilized Instagram to organize the Rock Canyon walk-out, and communicate the details and purpose to students. I also reached out to as many people as I could to explain the issue and ask them to join me,” Stroud said.

Stroud and Kumar hoped that the walk-out would draw community attention to student voices and the importance of voting in local elections.

Frankie Stroud ’22 and Krish Kumar ’22 lead the student walk-out Feb. 7. Students met at the school flagpole. “Frankie organized the protest after being reached out to by students at another high school, and I helped post on social media and bring attention to the protest. We were inspired to speak out against the recent injustices in our district done by the new board members,” Kumar said. (photo by Claire Bauer)

“I hope the walk-out wakes up not only these abusive new board directors, but also our local community to understand how important local elections are and to support the recall movement,” Kumar said.

Aside from the protest, Kumar has worked with Stroud to organize an email campaign, called Students4Teachers, and spread awareness to help the community stay educated and involved. 

“The four majority board members of our school board need to understand that students will not allow them to silence our voices,” Stroud said. “Those members have hurt students and teachers through their lack of transparency, failure to hold public comment, and by clearly ignoring the wishes of their constituents by firing Corey Wise without cause. I’m really grateful for the role the local media has played in covering this issue, and I hope the walk-out generates more awareness of this issue, but also demonstrates to the school board that this is what democracy looks like and a large majority of students do not support their actions.”

Hundreds of students met in front of the flagpole, marched around the school building, waved signs, chanted, and more, gathering attention from passerbys and local news stations as well.

Students hold up signs in front of the school building to protest the school board’s recent decisions Feb. 7. The protesting students initially met at the flagpole before marching laps around the school and down to the nearby intersection. “I do think it’s really important we do this, and I want the board to hear our views and how we feel about what they’re doing. I really want to tell [the school board] that we matter, and what they do really does affect us and our lives and our education overall. I want them to come and talk to us and understand that we’re people and their decisions really do affect us,” Isha Parikh ‘24 said. (photo by Claire Bauer)
“I think [the walk-out] forces people to take action. The meeting was between the board, not us. We can take action,” Yash Salvi ‘23 said.

Some students who attended the walk-out felt their voices and teachers’ voices were not being heard by the school board.

“I feel underrepresented. I support Corey Wise, and members on the board are making things very political. Education isn’t political,” Lauren Vick ‘24 said.

Students also protested to support their teachers after the sick-out Feb. 3. 

“[I’m protesting] because I love my teachers and they deserve way more support than they get. The school board needs to listen to the teachers, as they’re the ones teaching and they know more than you. They’re just doing their jobs,” Cooper Mimiaga ‘23 said.

Students walk along McArthur Ranch Road to protest the school board’s recent decisions. Protesters had to avoid mud and snow along the way. (photo by Claire Bauer)

Some students, like Shea Finkel ‘22, wanted the school board to rethink their decisions about Corey Wise and the Equity Act.

“I hope [the school board] reevaluates its decisions and listens to the general community to make positive impacts on education,” Finkel said. 

Not just high school students decided to speak up. Amongst the students participating in the walk-out were multiple groups of middle school students coming from Rocky Heights Middle School. 

“We came here because we want to support our teachers, and we feel like we need to speak up against the school board. Our middle school is having a protest too, but it’s smaller, and we felt it’d be more influential to come here,” Anni Streck ‘26 said. “We hope that the school board hears our voices and hears the teachers. They need to not go behind people’s backs, and they need to actually speak in front of, and with us. What they’re doing is putting Douglas County and our educations in danger.”

The protesting students did not come face-to-face with opposition while at the walk-out.

“If students oppose the school board’s policies, they can write emails to the board members to voice their concerns, sign up to speak in public comment at board meetings, and help Peterson, Williams, Myers, and Winegar get recalled in the next few months,” Stroud said.

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