Student newspaper of Kirkwood High School.

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An unexcused walkout

With protest in the St. Louis area concerning the Jason Stockley acquittal KHS students plan their own walkout.

Sha%27diya+Tomlin%2C+leader+of+the+walkout%2C+raises+her+fist+in+the+air.+The+walkout+is+in+response+to+the+Jason+Stockley+verdict+that+rocked+the+St.+Louis+area+on+Friday.++
Sha'diya Tomlin, leader of the walkout, raises her fist in the air. The walkout is in response to the Jason Stockley verdict that rocked the St. Louis area on Friday.

Sha'diya Tomlin, leader of the walkout, raises her fist in the air. The walkout is in response to the Jason Stockley verdict that rocked the St. Louis area on Friday.

Richard Pfeifer

Richard Pfeifer

Sha'diya Tomlin, leader of the walkout, raises her fist in the air. The walkout is in response to the Jason Stockley verdict that rocked the St. Louis area on Friday.

Richard Pfeifer, features writer

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News of a student-led walkout appeared in KHS students’ Instagram and Snapchat feeds late Friday night. The proposed walkout is in protest of the Jason Stockley acquittal, Friday, Sept. 15. Aysha McHaynes, a leader of the walk out, has been involved with social justice issues in Kirkwood before with the Ferguson walkout of 2014. Now she is co-planning a walkout, but unlike the 2014 protest it will not have the cushion of an abstinent attendance policy. According to the 2017 KHS attendance policy, after five unexcused absences the student will be automatically dropped from the class they have the absences in.

“I see [an unexcused absence] as a threat,” McHaynes said. “I hope that [Havener] understands that it’s not going to stop the movement. Where would we be today without people who are willing to do what needs to be done with consequences?”

According to a 2014 TKC article, Havener said that in 2014 the students participating in the protest “would not receive any punishment for leaving class.” Now, Havener’s official email to parents, addressing the 2017 walkout, said students will be expected to be at class on time or face the consequences.

Teachers will take attendance and if a student chooses to attend the peaceful protest it would be marked as an unexcused absence, and would fall under the attendance policies and procedures at KHS,” Havener’s email said. “As with any absence, any work that is missed will be the student’s responsibility to contact the teacher and make up the work.”

During the 2014 walkout, students were marked as absent. While the consequence of an unexcused absence now exaggerated by the KHS 2017 attendance policy, Havener sees the decision as proper.

“While you want to allow the opportunity for the First Amendment, we are also a school building,” Havener said. “The students have the right to do this, but they also need to take on the responsibilities that go along with it. There’s multiple [days you can miss unexcused before the class is automatically dropped] students just need to understand that this will go one day towards that.”

While some students like McHaynes see the unexcused absence as a threat, others such as Jimmy Winkelhoch, freshman, see it as an appropriate consequence for those participating.

“They’re pretty much skipping class,” Winkelhoch said. “They’re protesting something that shouldn’t [have] even been brought into the school in the first place.”   

According to the Instagram post, the protest will begin by 7:40 a.m. in the Senior Hall and will proceed to the football field. McHaynes’s hopes of a positive impact on KHS students are high as the countdown to the walkout begins to dwindle.

“I want every student in our school to feel like they matter,” McHaynes said. “If they come to school, they know somewhere in that building there is someone who cares about them, someone who is here for their struggle. Whether that is race, religion, sexual orientation, suicidal thoughts, whatever. I want everyone to have that place. And right now, black students don’t have that place. It’s bad enough not to have a that place in the world, but who wants to come to school and feel that way too?”   

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4 Comments

4 Responses to “An unexcused walkout”

  1. Nico James on September 18th, 2017 4:24 pm

    Unlike in Kirkwood, “students in University City won’t face discipline; the action [today’s student demonstration/march] had the full support of the district’s Superintendent Sharonica Hardin-Bartley, who is black, and Principal Susan Hill.”

    ***”‘There’s either learning going in inside… or there was learning going in outside, where leaders were forming,” Willis said.”***

    (Source: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/high-school-students-in-kirkwood-u-city-demonstrate-over-stockley/article_75fedc0d-e91d-5533-8df4-3034e858bb80.html)

    WELL SAID, WILLIS.

  2. Nico James on September 18th, 2017 4:58 pm

    (http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/high-school-students-in-kirkwood-u-city-demonstrate-over-stockley/article_75fedc0d-e91d-5533-8df4-3034e858bb80.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=user-share)

    “Administrators at some schools, including University City, embraced the demonstrations. University City Superintendent Sharonica Hardin-Bartley, who is African-American, and high school Principal Susan Hill helped students organize their protest march, which was attended by more than 300 students, staff and community members. They let students return to class without any mark on their disciplinary records.”

    “’We really wanted it to be a teachable moment. I do think there is value in having organized protest and having a voice,’ Hardin-Bartley said. ‘We’re saddened by what we see happening in our community and beyond, and I believe that our children are our leaders. We can’t expect for them to lead if we don’t give them the opportunity to do so.'”

    “But Kirkwood High School said it will give unexcused absences to students who walked out, per school policy. The school had warned parents over the weekend of the consequences of walking out.”

    Our comment: University City offered its students teachable moments. Kirkwood offered its students only consequences. A Kirkwood Pioneer family, we’re proud of U City schools today.

  3. Maggie Kelley on September 19th, 2017 9:04 am

    As American citizens and public-school students, these Kirkwood Pioneers chose to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech/peaceable assembly and Fourteenth Amendment right to due process, as well as rights of theirs affirmed in the landmark Supreme Court decision Tinker v. Des Moines (1969), in which the Court reminded public schools that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

    Democracy in action, here at KHS. Way to go, Pioneers!

  4. Matthew Cavanaugh on September 27th, 2017 10:04 am

    In school we learn to accept who we are and how to express our voice. So why should we miss class to express that voice. School is for learning not walk outs. School should not be a political battle ground…

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An unexcused walkout