Photo by Abigail Massar
Foothill Technology High School

The students who stayed

Foothill was no exception to the national walkout that gripped the nation on April 20, led by the organizers of the Never Again movement. The students from the Ventura Unified School District (Ventura Unified) who participated marched approximately four miles to City Hall. The protest was a follow-up to a previous walkout commemorating Parkland victims on March 14, which was shorter in duration and distance than this most recent protest.

Of the total number of unexcused absences on April 20, over 100 were attributed to students joining the march to City Hall. The majority of Foothill students who did not walk out had a variety of reasons for staying behind.

Some students remained at school for athletics-related reasons. Sophomore Evan Wallace felt conflicted about joining the protest, pointing out that “the CIF rule says that if you’re not present for one or more periods, you can’t compete in sporting events.”

Wallace was one of many athletes who felt this way. Freshman Jack Ryan knew he would not be allowed to attend his meet if he walked out, despite personally believing in the cause.

Other students, such as junior Bradley Silvernail, believed his participation of the walkout would not make a appreciable difference in the success of the movement.

“I feel like [students] mostly get ignored, [and] they pretty much acknowledge it, [because] if I’m there they’re not really going to say ‘oh that kid’s there, now we’re going to do something about it,’” Silvernail stated.

Junior Alexa de la Rosa feared the repercussions while also disagreeing with the point of the protest.

“One reason I didn’t walk out obviously is because I didn’t want to get in trouble — I didn’t want to get an unexcused absence. I even witnessed another student having trouble walking out herself because she didn’t want to get that unexcused absence. Aside from that, I don’t really believe guns are the problem,” she said.

The turnout was unlike the March 14 walkout. Then, every student made a political statement whether they left the classroom or not. The numbers in the majority who stayed did not reflect the turnout of the preceding walkout.

Although many students chose to stay behind, their reasons for doing so have significant differences. Junior Pearl Esparza and of senior Trey Casswell both stayed back due to their objections to policies in the movement’s agenda but were nevertheless on opposite sides of the spectrum.

Esparza objected to specific policies in the movement’s agenda, in particular what she believes would be a harmful violation of patient confidentiality between mental health doctors and police officers.

Casswell, on the other hand, cited some of his reasons for remaining in school as a combination of classwork, his pro-gun stance and his upcoming baseball game.

Furthermore, Casswell didn’t leave because he felt the movement was undermined because many students did not have a legitimate reason for walking out.

“I know a lot of people who left class and went home using the walkout as kind of their reason to get out of class,” Casswell said. “Also, a lot of people don’t really like do their research on why they’re protesting, so I don’t feel like a lot of people are educated on the protest that they’re joining.”

Reporting credit: Sam Bova and William Flannery assisted in the reporting of this article.

-by Becka Shuere

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