Principal's message on student protests by ferry

Middle schoolers march in protest
Apr 20, 2018

Editor's note: While Edmonds-Woodway students, on campus, protested gun violence today, April 20, a group of College Place Middle School students marched from the school on 76th Avenue West in Lynnwood to the Edmonds ferry.

A business owner called the Beacon to ask why middle-school students were protesting off campus. Here's a response from Principal Sam Yuhan, in a letter to families:

Dear College Place Middle School Families:

As a follow-up to the letter I sent earlier this week regarding student walkouts, I want to share with you what took place today.

Approximately 100 students walked out of school at 10:00 a.m. and convened briefly at the intersection of 76th and 208th. A small number of students from this group started to walk away from the school, and were then joined by about 70 other students, all of whom eventually ended up in downtown Edmonds near the ferry terminal.

During this time, I followed this group of students to ensure that they were safe. I notified Edmonds Police that these students were congregated in several places within the area of the ferry terminal.

The original student organizers led another group of approximately 30 students to the District Office on 64th Avenue.

They were accompanied by administrative staff from our school and spoke briefly with Superintendent Kris McDuffy before making their way to the Edmonds Woodway High School campus to join the demonstration taking place there.

The students who opted to carry their walkout to downtown Edmonds behaved mostly in a respectful manner. A District staff member did speak with individuals at a business near the ferry where students had gathered and explained that they were welcome to tell students to return to their campus.

While our preference would have been for students to remain on campus, this group of students chose to leave and as I shared earlier this week, we provided supervision. Under these unexpected circumstances, we did the best we could to make sure students were safe.

But this decision on the part of the students, resulted in some realizing they did not want to walk back and they contacted family members for rides back to the school.

We acknowledge that many of our students feel the need to give voice to their concerns and take some kind of action to help prevent future incidents of school violence.

However, because of the choices made by this group of students, I will follow up with them on Monday to discuss their decision, and the impact this had on their school day and the staff who were pulled from normal duties for many hours on Friday.

Demonstrations like these are an expression of students’ free speech rights and as such, we are obliged to respect students’ choice to exercise their rights. Again, to be clear, these demonstrations are not school or district sponsored. Students who participated did so voluntarily. Staff were not participating. The school’s role was to remain neutral, neither endorsing nor planning the event.

Students who chose to miss class will be marked absent, and it will be up to the family to contact us to clear this absence. Students who have an unexcused absence for this day will be subject to the normal consequences that any student who has an unexcused absence will face.

We encourage you to have conversations, as appropriate and needed, with your students about what occurred today. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

You can reach me at ​yuhans976@edmonds.wednet.edu​ or 425-431-7452.

 

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