Update: Woodside High students protest Trump election

Student: Protest started as emotional outpouring and evolved into 'unity thing'

Hundreds of students gathered in the Woodside High School central quad at mid-morning Thursday and stayed out of classes to air opinions on the election of Donald Trump as president.

What began as an emotional outpouring evolved into a "unity thing," a student said.

The protest started with the campus brunch at 10:30 a.m. when a group of the school's Latino and students of other races marched through campus with flags and signs, Woodside High student Ethan Steinmetz told the Almanac.

The march was nonviolent, and soon, what appeared to be the whole school had gathered in the central quad, he said. After the short brunch period, few left the quad to return to class. Deven Hills, a 12th grader, said he was one of the few to go back to class because he had to finish his math homework.

Many teachers were out of their classrooms offering assistance and supervision, Ethan said.

The protest occurred the day after an assault on a Woodside High student who said she was attacked because of her support of Mr. Trump.

The tone shifted through the protest, which continued for about two and a half hours, Ethan said. Initially, comments began with Latino and Mexican students voicing their opinions, "just feeling a sense of tragedy," he said. The principal came out and all students who wished to speak were invited to wait in line for their turn at the microphone. Teachers also spoke, he said.

Watch this video to hear what two Spanish teachers told their students.

The protest started as more of an emotional outpouring of anti-Trump sentiment, but turned "into a unity thing," he said. "It was pretty cool to see, actually."

According to Ethan, one of the more memorable quotes from a student at the protest-turned-unity rally was, "We are not the generation of tomorrow. We are the generation of today."

In an email message to the school community on Thursday, Principal Diane Burbank said she decided to excuse the protesting students from their fourth-period classes.

"We recognized students' right to free speech and the need to practice it, too," she said. "We challenged students that it was easy to be respectful when you agreed with a position, but that it was harder to be respectful when you disagreed, and that all opinions were welcomed at the microphone." (School staff had set up a sound system in the quad.)

"One student spoke about unity and different pathways to unity," Ms. Burbank said. "We added that every voter also deserved inclusion in that pathway to unity. It was a remarkable peaceful protest."

The protest continued through lunch – "an outdoor classroom in the quad" and "a teachable moment," Ms. Burbank called it – but students were expected to return to their classrooms for the sixth period. "I challenged them that the effective way to protest was to become educated and to make a difference by earning their diplomas," she said.

News media were barred from the campus, and deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office guarded the entrance.

About 30 students who "peacefully" remained in the quad after the start of the sixth period will be issued unexcused absences as a result, Ms. Burbank said, adding that further protests will also result in unexcused absences.

The school district administration is investigating the circumstances of the assault, Superintendent Jim Lianides of the Sequoia Union High School District said, adding that "appropriate disciplinary action has been taken."


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5 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 10, 2016 at 9:00 pm

It seems that it takes the fear of the policies of the likes of Donald Trump to bring back the youthful social activism of 50 years ago.

27 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2016 at 9:16 pm

I am not one normally for protests, but I am proud of these young people.

Trump and the people around him are inexplicable. The idea he is running
against corruption, the "drain the swamp" slogan, when he is closest to
so many from the past that could be characterized as creatures from the
swamp. Newt Gingrich, Rudy Guilianni, Sarah Palin and others.

Then the conciliatory tone he took in his acceptance speech was typically
immediately rolled by the next day by Rudy Guilianni who talked today
about prosecuting Hillary, who was so corrupt.

This is terrorist ruling tactics ... saying one thing, doing another, always
being unpredictable ... right out of the Sopranos, or farther back the reign
of Caligula.

When they talk about ending corruption as well, and point to the Clintons
as being corrupt ... recently we have been hearing about whistleblowers
in the FBI was talked about how it has been called Trumplandia, and that
they were feeding information to and taking orders from the Trump campaign
in the release of the information about Hillary's emails ... just in the last days
of an election.

Go for it kids ... I for one am proud of you!

38 people like this
Posted by whs student
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Nov 10, 2016 at 9:58 pm

I am so proud of my school for what we did today. People of different races, genders, sexualities, and religions all spoke giving different points of view. People shared their views and stories and fears and hopes and dreams. Everyone supported one another, cheering and getting excited and sympathizing with others. Today showed the hope that is still in us. Today we proved to ourselves that while we may not have a vote, we have a voice said. Like Kris (another whs student) said, "We are not the generation of tomorrow, we are the generation of today."

I've seen fear do a lot of scary things during this election, including getting Donald Trump the presidency. Today, however, the fear of our future was channeled into hope and love and acceptance.

Thank you Woodside family, today you made me more proud than ever to be a wildcat

38 people like this
Posted by Jason Krakauer
a resident of Woodside High School
on Nov 10, 2016 at 10:34 pm

My name is Jason and I am a student who spoke at the protest. This rally of students to protest proved just how powerful our voices really are. We came together to realize that there is no such thing as race or minority group. We are all one people and today on November 10th of 2016, is just the start of change. Our generation is not just the voices off the future, we are the voices of NOW and NOW we must act for change. Woodside started this change. It is our responsibility to keep change happening. I have no fear of hiding my name and what I believe. We are the voices of today and the voice of change. Let us stand up! TOGETHER! For the rights of everyone. We are divided no longer! From this day forth, we are one. One people. Thank you Woodside for what you have done today. This is what it truly means to be a wildcat and I have never been prouder to call myself a wildcat.

14 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 11, 2016 at 3:15 pm

I am so saddened by the way the girl was harmed for supporting Trump. The Almanac closed the comments on that story that was just written yesterday. That action appears to be sweeping that horrible event under the rug, just as Woodside High School appears to have done. This kind of intimidation and bodily harm has got to stop. Just as these young people highlighted in this story have the right to speak--so does someone who supports Mr. Trump.

I would hope The Almanac would truly be unbiased and that Woodside High would hold those students responsible for beating up that girl. We, as a society, are not doing any favors to anyone by looking the other way when haters are allowed to physically harm those with whom they disagree.

12 people like this
Posted by Nancy Kohn
a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2016 at 3:28 pm

Have these young people not been taught that a peaceful transition of office is one of the greatest strengths of our government? We are out of the district after 50 years, but our kids were given a very good background in the US Constitution 30 years ago at MA.

7 people like this
Posted by High school parent
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 11, 2016 at 4:16 pm

In The Almanac and other local media, the assault on the female Woodside High School student is identified as the result of her support of Donald Trump. Did anyone at the Almanac bother to interview witnesses of the racist slurs this girl made?
Violence is not the answer but factual balanced reporting is vital to understanding.

13 people like this
Posted by WHS Parent
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Nov 11, 2016 at 8:38 pm

Unfortunately, in this follow-up article, it seems that Dave Boyce has not addressed the elephant in the room here: The victim of the assault had posted racist slurs and profanity on Instagram, specifically targeting Mexican and Black students. As well, I am told by students that the victim specifically targeted the boyfriend of the assaulter. The victim was in no way attacked for simply "showing support for Trump." She was attacked for using inflammatory language indicating that, now that Mr. Trump was in office, the Mexicans should go back to where they came from -----but in much worse language than this. Did she think she wasn't going to get a reaction?

The protest was peaceful and extremely well-handled by the school staff. The students handled themselves remarkably, and were able to feel heard and express emotion that would otherwise have festered. Kudos to Diane Burbank for seeing this need, and, rather than trying to shut it down, allowing it to proceed in an organized and well-thought out manner.

I am not saying that the victim should have been assaulted---absolutely not. Happily, WHS has a zero tolerance for this sort of thing. I would, however, like to point out that using language like that brings consequences----PARTICULARLY in light of an emotion-laced situation like this election. One can understand how the assaulter might have been brought to that level of rage. I hope the victim and her family have now figured this out. Since screenshots of the Instagram were available to KGO-7, and were displayed in their report on the news last night, it would be nice to hear that the victim is being punished for her disgusting cyberbullying behavior. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

10 people like this
Posted by Truth
a resident of Woodside High School
on Nov 12, 2016 at 12:30 am

Shame on the Almanac for misrepresenting this event and the attack. The physical attack was for the girls racist comments. The protest was against racism and other threats to our unity. Neither were anti-trump headlines . This protest was initiated to bring light to the truth that the media overlooked the girls racist comments. It was not an anti-trump rally. It was about RACISM IN OUR COMMUNITY, and developed into an expression of solidarity for all disempowered groups.

Even the almanac seems biased, choosing to paint powerless in a negative light by claiming this as an anti-trump rally , and continuing to paint the powerful as the victims

Try interviewing a student who actually represents the powerless next time, or even catching on to that the powerless needed a voice. try giving accurate voice to the voiceless not just feeding what the majority want to hear

9 people like this
Posted by Tolerance
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 13, 2016 at 5:35 pm

The attack on this girl shows a lack of tolerace for different points of view. The teachers message at this rally should have been that in America we allow people to voice their opinions even if we disagree with them.

5 people like this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2016 at 6:55 pm

Felony Assault should be taught or explained to the students.

I watched the video of the assault a few times, I saw 4 young men do NOTHING to stop it 3 were just feet away facing it watching it, Not a Word, nobody stood up, nobody moved, the 4th did move but not to help a victim of an assault he moved because he was in the video. This is America we must do better than that.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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