On Thursday, Nov. 14, 2016, Leigh High School provided a supervised open-mic discussion during lunch for students to voice their opinions about the recent presidential election in a peaceful and inclusive manner. The event was to be held in place of a student-organized walk-out protest during students’ tutorial period.
The previous day, principal Kara Butler contact Leigh families, encouraging parents to advise their children against participation in the campus walk-out that had been planned and spread over social media the previous weekend. Butler emphasized that the walk-out, which had been organized to protest the results of the recent presidential election, was not inclusive to all students and was disruptive to valuable instructional minutes. She also warned that students who participated in the protest would be subject to proper disciplinary action.
During Thursday morning’s school-wide announcements, Butler stated an alternative event to protest – a meeting would take place in the cafeteria during lunch, and would be open for students to express their viewpoints regarding the outcome of the election.
Butler’s words resonated with students, and the planned protest did not occur during tutorial. Instead, students gathered in the cafeteria to proclaim their ideas in a variety of different ways. Students could talk about what was on their mind through the microphone and a table was also set off to the side with Post-it notes for students to write their thoughts about the election and stick them on a wall.
“We’re working on some different ways to help support, and maybe it’s just continued different types of support… Trying to find something that works for everybody is hard, but if you offer lots of different things, hopefully there’s going to be something for somebody… I think it’s trying to get a start and to see what works for you guys. Because what works for adults isn’t what always works for students, so we want to see communication,” said Shannon Lane, vice principal.
Over the course of the lunch period, 14 students took the mic and shared their opinions. Junior Anahita Cann spoke first, preaching togetherness and positivity.
“We’re a community. We’re a school. We don’t want to come against each other, we want to understand each other and help each other grow,” said Cann.
Other students voiced concern about president-elect Donald Trump’s stances on certain issues.
“[Trump’s] plan is just to make Mexico pay for a wall. C’mon! I mean, doesn’t he care about how they feel? I believe that is super racist and he should not do this at all,” said Tony Palladino, freshman.
Others expressed their support for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“I was very disappointed in the results of the election, mainly because I felt like Hillary was very prepared to be president… In my opinion she was very, very qualified, and the thing is, I don’t see the same thing in Trump. I don’t think he actually knows what he’s doing as president,” said Francesco Fimiani, junior.
Although many students were visibly shaken by the results of the election, senior Elly Hudson reminded listeners of the silver lining.
“Here’s what my friend… [senior] Bella Myrah… told me: the positive that came out of this election is that the issues that our country has faced are kind of being shoved in people’s faces, like racism, sexism, and all around bigotry. It’s kind of opened the public eye now; people kind of have to think about it,” said Hudson.
By the end of the lunch period, many students had the opportunity to reflect on the results of the election and how a Trump presidency would affect their daily lives and the lives of the people around them.