The View from Room 212 on December 9, 2014

“I’m sorry that you didn’t get to teach this afternoon,” the 16 year old said to me apologetically, as if he caused the 20 students to walk out of my classroom, in the middle of my lesson.  A trail of abandoned backpacks, notebooks were left on the tables while the laptops were still warm.  Any other day, any other time, I would be livid at this unforeseen turn of events.  Instead, I observed with the few remaining students at the protest gathering outside our school. IMG_2989 IMG_3111 IMG_3089   The view from our classroom, Room 212, presented GCAA students filling the green lawn across the street.  Students intended to catch the attention of our surrounding community and express their disapproval of the recent turn of events coming out of Ferguson. I considered this unpredictable event  as a teachable moment.  I watched each student contemplate the idea of public protest:  while some enthusiastically bounded out of the classroom to be part of the movement, others paused , filled with questions –did I approve?  Would they be punished?  Exactly what are the consequences for walking out of school to be part of a public demonstration?  What would their parents say?  Each student reached a conclusion in his/her own time. IMG_3495JJVPhotography_2014 IMG_3447JJVPhotography_2014-lo res IMG_3438JJVPhotography_2014 lo res       For those who chose to stay back and take in the scene from a bird’s eye view, the questions continued to spark serious reflection.  Is it an effective protest if there are no signs?  Does it matter that our protestors assembled with different intentions to express?  From Room 212 we wondered and watched the GCAA staff present a watchful eye over the situation, ensuring student safety at all times.   My official lesson may have been scrapped, but it was replaced with an unforgettable experience for every one – vocal protesters and quiet observers alike.  That afternoon, so many students found a voice that they never used before while others began asking questions of the political system they never pondered. Article by Cindy Kalachek, , B.A., M.Ed. - English III and English Chair Photos by JuJu Vieth, 11th Grader at GCAA [Note:  The first three photo were taken on the school day protest.  The final three photos were taken during an after-school protest a few days later].