Inauguration Day: Students and staff respond to Trump’s presidency

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Alexandrea Lorea (12) watches live footage of Donald J. Trump's inauguration. "I think breaking out of the uniform and dressing in all black is a symbol of unity, and how we should express ourselves, especially on a day that will impact my life personally for the next four years," says Lorea

Becca Alonso, Georgia Moore, Alyssa Cerda, and Emily Weaver

On January 20th, 2017, the day of 45th President Donald J. Trump’s Inauguration, students filed in through the doors of the Ann Richards School like it’s just another Friday. But for some, today is a day of expression and protest, and a chance to make their voices heard.

Before winter break, eighth grade students Frida Parra and Kaia Newton spread the word amongst students of an Inauguration Day “Blackout,” telling their peers and upperclassmen to break uniform in all black clothing in “mourning for victims of recent hate crimes” at the swearing in of Donald Trump as president.

 

On Friday, January 20, Chloe Leline (10), Maddie Irwin (10), and Sage O’Brien (10) wore black to mourn victims of recent hate crimes. Photo by Emily Weaver.

 

More recently, an anonymous student or students revealed the plan for a “Walkout,” along with many other schools in AISD. The students in the walkout left school at 3pm and marched down to Auditorium Shores to join the citywide protest of the inauguration.

As both forms of protest defied school rules, many students were hesitant about the idea. Some opted to black out and not walk, some did the opposite. Each individual had slightly different views and opinions of the effects of these actions on themselves, on the issues at hand, and on how they reflect the school.

“I mainly [wore black] because I feel like the school is restricting our voice, and it just shows that we should be able to do what we want and express our feelings to not wear our uniforms,” Samantha Rico (12) said.

Samantha Rico (12) watches the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. Rico was one of the students who chose to wear black. “This is a big historical event, and we should be able to express our feelings about it,” said Rico. Photo by Emily Weaver.

While many students were dressed in black, several teachers were too, including Abby Williams, the French teacher and Scholarship Coordinator.

“I think it was a nice and peaceful way to show your disappointment and feelings of the day,” said Ms. Williams. “I certainly participated [in the Blackout].”

Ms. Devi Puckett’s AP government class watches live footage of the inauguration.“This is AP government, and so watching the inauguration is a part of the curriculum in the first place,” Ms. Puckett said. “Government is alive and always changing so it’s a big part of our curriculum.” Photo by Becca Alonso.

While demerits were given for uniform violations, staff and students pinned them to their black outfits and continued on with their day. As the afternoon drew in, more people began to grow aware of the rumored walkout that was to happen.

Julie Apagya-Bonney (11) chose not to walk-out today, instead taking a stand against Donald Trump by staying in class. “What you’re showing to everybody when you walk out of this building is that you don’t care, you know you’re getting access to this education, you know that it’s here to benefit you, and you’re just going to walk out on it,” says Apagya-Bonney. “And to me, at this point, what are you representing? The best thing you can do is get an education so people like him can never be in office again.” Photo by Georgia Moore.

“I understand why people are doing it [the walkout], but by the end of the day, when you look at the woman Donald Trump appointed to be the leader of education, she literally doesn’t believe that public schools should be public; she believes all schools should be private and students have to pay to go to school,” Julie Apayga Bonney, a junior, said. “So students are literally proving to her that as a public school student you are willing to walk out on your school when you’re getting free education.”

Assistant Principal Tatiana Wiersema, while supportive of students voicing opinions, was concerned over the safety of students. Because Ann Richards is a public school, opinions and beliefs of every student should be protected. Wiersema explained the concern she had for students who would feel left out of protests occurring. She also expressed concern for middle schoolers.

“It’s a totally different thing for high schoolers to walk out and go to a march unsupervised, than for 6th and 7th grades,” Ms. Wiersema said. “It’s important for them to know that teachers won’t be accompanying them, this is not a field trip that we’re going on. So in their minds it’s very confusing, so that’s where our heads are at too.”

Some staff members of encouraged students to stand up for what they believe in and make change, even if missing class is what it took.

“I think that students are violating a school rule, and they are violating district policy by doing it,” Albert Marino, a math teacher, said. “By doing that, they’re showing that they are willing to take a consequence to stand up to injustice. Me, as a teacher, I can’t condone it, but at the same time we have to remember that all of the rights we have won in this country happened by people breaking the rule.”

Alexandrea Lorea (12) watches live footage of Donald J. Trump’s inauguration. “I think breaking out of the uniform and dressing in all black is a symbol of unity, and how we should express ourselves, especially on a day that will impact my life personally for the next four years,” says Lorea. Photo by Emily Weaver

Students who rallied for the walkout started several social media campaigns  under the alias “AnnieRich Movement”, posting their goal for starting the walkout was so communities could come together and speak out for something they feel passionate about.

“For the walkout, I was asked by a group of people to join, the people who were running the thing, and I felt really empowered, to be honest, to know that it was organized by our school and we’re willing to do this for the better fight,” Elly Gonzalez, a sophomore, said. “I’m surprised that as many people participated as they did, and I think it’s really important that we represent our feelings with this type of resistance.” 
At 3:00, students at Ann Richards waited, peeking out from their classroom doors. Ann Richards students waited to hear the footsteps, they waited to hear the chanting, and they wanted to hear the students stand up for their beliefs. Soon enough, about 20 students marched through the cafeteria and straight for the band hall exit, chanting “Hey hey! Ho ho! Donald Trump has got to go!” The students marched out of the school and began walking to Auditorium Shores, where they arrived safely at 4:25pm, greeted by adult activists.

“I think right now being kind to people is a courageous act, and educating yourself on issues right now is a courageous act,” said Ms. Wiersema. “We don’t think about learning as a protest, but it kind of is. Those are some things that I think, but I think you guys are the ones who can determine [how to protest].”