Due to the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of the police force, the Black Lives Matter movement gained attention and Montgomery County high schools are responding accordingly.
Three students from Richard Montgomery led a protest that shut down Rockville Pike on June 5. They started small, but their simple flyer reached over 3,000 people. Those who organized the protest went to the principal of Richard Montgomery, Damon Monteleone and the Rockville Police Department for support. They also received support from other Richard Montgomery staff. “The process was complicated but well worth it. I am so grateful I have a community like Rockville that shows up so strongly for their African American peers amidst a global health pandemic and I can’t wait to use this protest as the fire we need to begin contacting our local politicians for some true police reform,” one of the protest leaders, RM junior Nora Elysad said.
At Quince Orchard, students also participated in protests. Later, these students received an email from their principal encouraging students to make their voices heard in a peaceful way. The Rockville SGA is creating resources that share how people can participate in the movement while staying safe during the pandemic. They plan to hold live-streamed town halls and question and answer sessions to better understand how the student body feels. They also posted a statement on the SGA Instagram.
Students from Walt Whitman organized a protest in downtown Bethesda on June 2, where hundreds of people gathered to protest racism. A group named “DC Teens Action” provided guidance to the novice protest organizers.
Winston Churchill’s SGA president hosted a 24-hour Minecraft live stream that started June 8 at 9 a.m. and went until this morning at 9 a.m. in an effort to raise money for the Bail Project. They raised $1,000 before the live stream even started. The official Bail Project website states, “The Bail Project is a non-profit organization that believes in paying bail for people incarcerated in an act of resistance against a system that criminalizes race and poverty and an act of solidarity with local communities and movement for decarceration.”
At Wootton, Common Sense is making our voices heard through the publication of articles that touch on many topics including the history of the Black Lives Matter movement, protests, social media and how you can help. Students have participated in protests. Junior Anthony De Leon attended the protest in Rockville on June 5. “I’ve always been proud of where I’ve grown up, here in Rockville, but the amount of pride I felt marching along with my fellow neighbors for justice was unparalleled. Never before in my life have I felt the true power of thousands of people, fighting so desperately and peacefully for what is right. The unity of all the people there felt like change is really going to happen and it will as long as we continue to do this, getting more people to speak out and less silent. I can honestly say it was one of the most powerful and influential experiences I have been a part of,” De Leon said.
We as a community need to do more. Every student’s voice should be heard. It is not enough to simply post on Instagram or tweet about wanting change. Students, staff and the Wootton community need to get out there: go to protests, write letters to elected officials and demand change until history is made.