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Cover picture: Olivia McGough, CHS sophomore, with the sign she made. Picture by Kari Gottfried for the CHS High-O-Scope.
CHS students walked out of 5th period on Wednesday, November 9th and again during 7th period on Friday, November 18 to protest the Trump presidency. Donald J Trump, the Republican party nominee was chosen as the president-elect, and many students were unhappy. Sophomores Maysam Abugrain, Madeleine Moreland, Brigit Paterson and senior Jack Turner were in charge of organizing the Wednesday event; Moreland, Paterson, and Turner continued with Friday’s rally. Junior Brianna Brady was also a moving force on Friday. “I wasn’t [originally] part of the group; I was added to the group. I was asked to speak because I have a loud voice and presence… I was [also] the one keeping the ideas of the group in check.” Moreland states, “A Trump presidency [to me] means a leader of hate, which will lead to a nation of hate, which will lead to hate in the hearts of most all American people.” But why have a walk-out? What are they trying to say? The president has already been determined, and that is a key point. The purpose isn’t to reject Trump as president of the United States or demand the Electoral College change their votes. Olivia McGough, a sophomore, says that “[the purpose is] to let minorities know that they aren’t alone and to prevent Trump’s beliefs from becoming a societal standard.” Moreland adds, “We wanted to do this walkout to show everyone that this election is unacceptable, it is something we will not support, and we will continue to be heard… [It doesn’t matter if] politicians attempt to stifle our voices.”
The students who started this movement at Corvallis High weren’t class presidents. They weren’t people who planned on doing anything political. “I haven’t always been interested in politics… I became more and more involved and aware because it began to affect me more and more, being a poor queer woman”, mentions Moreland. Paterson agrees, adding, “The thing that got me interested was hearing how messed up this election was… I wanted to know if it was true.”
She continues to describe what happened when she left class on Wednesday. “It was definitely scary standing up in front of my class and walking out. Luckily I wasn’t the only one in my class…My teacher asked what we were doing… We walked out before she could say anything back. I was surprised because I didn’t think many people would come.”
An estimated 5o people attended Wednesday’s walkout, that number increasing to around 70 for Friday. There was representation from all grades, but sophomores and juniors made up the majority of students. At Friday’s event, students from Crescent Valley and Linus Pauling Middle School were also in attendance. Two students, Sierra and Lily, even made the journey from West Albany. “[We decided to come because] we support diversity within the community,” says Sierra.
“Overall I think the walkouts went pretty well. We were a group of people who cared strongly about our beliefs, and we needed a way to be heard”, remarked Turner. He continues, “If I were to say anything to [Donald Trump], I would ask him why he thinks he can ask for the respect of the American people when we speak rudely about women, Muslims, Mexicans, people of the LGBT+ community, the mentally ill, et cetera.”
“Just because Trump ran a campaign of hatred and bigotry doesn’t mean we have to continue it,”adds Joo-hee Lee, another sophomore. Paterson assents, saying, “You can still stand up for what you believe in.”
The walkouts weren’t district sponsored. Everyone who attended received an unexcused absence from class, which some students cited as a reason to not attend. But when weighing the consequences of an unexcused absence, Moreland implores, “The future of our country, and our part in it is [more important] than one unexcused absence.” Paterson adds, “It’s worth it because you are fighting for what you believe in… It’s about your future.”