East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy

Tensions at Bell Garden High School

We all know that everyone had their own personal stance on the Nov. 14 walkout, but do we know how far some students went to be a part of this walk out?

Estephanie Garcia from Bell Gardens High School and creator of the Instagram account “SELA Walkouts” tells us her experience and what had happened after the walkout.

bell garden Tensions at Bell Garden High School

“The ‘SELA Walkout’ page was created to connect with other schools since many administrators were pushing back on the idea of a walk out. Most teachers supported us, even a counselor congratulated us for being able to exercise our voices and power.

“We [A group of students, ranging of various ages] wanted to participate in the walk out and at first we thought our principle was supporting us. Our principle even said he would open the gate for us on our first attempt on Nov. 9, but he denied everything later. He locked us in school. We then made the page [SELA Walkout] and decided this time we weren’t going to walk into school and we were going to pick up the closest schools to us which where Bell and Maywood. Our reason for wanting to participate was because we wanted to let our community know, our parents know, that we can create a safe haven for them, with the support from our district. Overall, protesting is empowering to youth and we were able to express our fear and anger since most of us were not able to vote. We felt proud by the fact, that our own police officers were protecting us throughout the march, while other cars and people around us stood in solidarity.

“Sadly, when we came back the next day a few students were suspended for ‘defying authority’ although they didn’t step on school property. A few of the people who participated in the walkout were in a club on campus called ‘Youth in Action.’ This club was targeted as the ‘trouble makers’ and the primary cause of the walkout. Later we received news that our club director was banned from our club meetings and campus because the principle said a mother had reported that the club director had manipulated her son to protest. Our club director didn’t have a say in our decision to walkout, he instead supported us and allowed us to develop our own ideas.

“We recently requested a meeting to ask why exactly was our club director banned, since he was a valuable asset in our organization. We haven’t gotten any news back. Regardless of any of the consequences every single participant was satisfied knowing that we stood our ground, and we are the protectors of all of our people.”

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