LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Today’s first period meeting between principal Bill Greymont and students angry about new hall pass procedures ended with a protest march that disrupted second period classes. West senior Andy Propper was there.
Walking into the East cafeteria I felt a massive wave of tension and excitement. I could look around and tell that everyone knew that with how many people showed up something would probably happen and it wouldn’t end well, but that was okay for some people because they hoped for a destructive and chaotic meeting.
The meeting itself was filled with boisterous and dismissive teenagers. I could see many who had showed up with constructive intentions to change things were drowned out by the outcries and jeers from those who had come to watch the carnage they assumed would unfold.
I personally sat all the way in the back on the opposite side of the room, but still had a clear line of sight on everything. Many of the questions were very insightful and put forward well, but with the each question came a minute of applause and cheering against the passes.
One of the more radical members of our cause decided to abuse the question session we had been given and walked around the tables yelling words to rile up the crowd even more. I sat watching him, and laughing at the absurdity of his actions. He was the first to be taken away.
After he was done he went to sit down and was confronted by administrators, finally having a police officer escort him out of the room after he resisted. After this went on for all of the first hour and nothing happened, people walked around and told all those present to stay and that we were having a sit-in.
At that moment I decided to stay.
Turning 18 years old only a month ago, I felt that taking part in something and being an activist was a good thing to do. So we stayed in the East cafeteria for some time, people were jumping around on the tables, standing on seats and yelling. An inappropriate chant with cursing was started up and a table was flipped. More people were removed.
Things were slowly falling apart and even though I recognized this I decided I’d try riding this tornado of teenage rage out to see how it would end. After the table was returned to its normal state, the announcements rang that second period off hour would be in the West cafeteria. This inspired the mass to go to the other cafeteria and maybe recruit new members.
At that point, when walking through the halls following this group, I could look left and right and find students and teachers looking at us as we passed, in fear, laughing, disgust, annoyance, and rage at the fact that this simple meeting over a bathroom pass had escalated to this point.
Upon reaching the West cafeteria, I thought everything was actually calming down. People started sitting and just waiting, no one was making any ridiculous moves to do something. After a few minutes of sitting and doing nothing, the entire remaining group, that was still slowly shrinking, charged back out of the room and took to running through the West science department. They yelled at doorways, raised middle fingers at onlookers, and tore down wall pieces put up by the teacher. They proceeded to head through the math department near the two towers, repeating these actions and beckoning for people to join them.
“It was then that I truly came to realize how outrageously out of hand the situation was.”
We turned off to the East tower at the end of the math hall and I figured that the group was just going to bolt out of the door. Instead I was met with surprise as they ran upstairs to repeat their recruitment process on the social studies hall that is directly above the math hall. As I reached the top of the stairs and walked through the doorway, I saw a similar train of people running down the main hall doing the same things we were doing.
The scope of everything that was happening came into focus. It was then that I truly came to realize how serious and outrageously out of hand the situation was and I truly was a bit intimidated by what was happening.
We turned to go back down the West tower and that’s when my saving call came. Over the speakers one of the administrators said a hall sweep was being put into effect. We were locked into the tower and I decided that it was no longer worth me staying with this group.
I left the mob and went to my second hour class where I was barraged with questions about what was happening. I was truly just relieved to be done with the situation at that moment although the adrenaline and buzz from the crowd still had a grip on me.
Now looking back on all of it, I truly wish I had left at the end of the meeting itself, before everything got out of hand.
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(Photos courtesy of Danielle Konstanz, West English teacher.)