It started on twitter and evolved into a major protest. Before classes began Tuesday morning at Holt Senior High School, more than 100 students took part in a "Sit-in." The demonstration comes a day after the district's school board unanimously approved a plan to swap seniors off the main campus, with ninth graders who use a building across the street.
Chanting "Stop the Switch! Stop the Switch!" students armed with cell phones captured their protest on video, and spread the word using social media. Senior student Austin Sanders says the anger over the switch has united the community. "There was people from the freshman campus that even came over. My mom was on Facebook. She said that there was going to be parents bringing kids over from the 8th grade building."
Protesters snapped pictures and posted them to twitter to show the world what was happening inside their high school. Dozens of students refused to go to class. The Principal moved the crowd into an auditorium, where he and the Superintendent spent an hour and a half answering questions about the plan, to move seniors to the ninth grade campus, and freshman to the main campus.
Dr. Johnny Scott, Superintendent, says it was a cordial meeting. "The students asked questions about some of their anxieties, some of their uncertainties, some of the ambiguities that still exist out there, some of the misinformation. We were able to respond to what we were thinking, how we're thinking, how we're going to proceed."
Cell phone video shows the meeting appeared to get heated at times, with students feeling power in numbers. But Scott says, it was productive. "I'm really proud of our students because in all fairness to them, they are exercising the democratic process."
The meeting ended before lunch time. Most students returned to class, some chose to go home. Tracee Hartley, a sophomore, says the Superintendent promised to keep the lines of communication open, to help with the adjustment. "No matter what he does to make it better, it will never be good enough for us. We want to be in our High School as seniors looking down on the younger class men so that they can look up to us, as seniors."
Dr. Scott says students will not be punished for participating in the demonstration. The district's School Board President, John Malatinsky, says he's willing to meet with students as many times as he has to, to help them understand the change, before it takes effect in the fall.
Students are invited to a meeting with the Superintendent, School Board President, and possibly a couple of other board members, Thursday after school.