Students Walk Out to Stand Up


Alex Darmondy

Kamal Lado, left, and Hannah Ryan, right, were part of the student walkout at CHS.

Maddy Bale, Senior Managing Editor

“I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself,” said CHS sophomore William Bermingham about his participation in Clayton’s Jan. 20 walk-out in protest of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.  “I felt different.”

At 12:00 pm on Friday, Jan. 20, more than sixty students walked out of class and convened in solidarity in the center quad of the high school.  Organized by CHS senior and Social Justice Club President Brooke Jones, the protest gave students an opportunity to exchange constructive rhetoric in an inclusive environment.  

“I’ve been involved in lots of Black Lives Matter protests.  The walk-out was a lot less organized, but the energy was definitely there,” Jones said.

After hearing about a national walk-out through Facebook, Jones decided to spread the word and get CHS involved.  Although she was ultimately not able to participate in the walk-out itself, the event ran smoothly and devoted itself to progress.

“It was cool to see that, even though I was the one who spread the word, everyone still showed up even when I couldn’t make it,” Jones said.

In Jones’s place, fellow Social Justice Club member Claire Millett stepped up to deliver a speech during the walk-out.

“When I found out that Trump was going to be president, my heart dropped to my stomach.  I felt like I had to do something in the American way, and that way is to protest and utilize our first Amendment rights,” Millett said.

In very few words, Millett was able to express the frustrations of hundreds of CHS students.  

“I wanted people to know that we have the right to protest every single injustice – every single move that the Trump administration makes in the next four years,” Millett said.  “We have the right to stand up in the face of injustice, and we have the right to say that Donald Trump is not our president.”

Despite the frustration and fear, the walk-out focused on promoting constructive dialect.

“I tried to maintain a tone of respect in my speech because I didn’t want it to be a rhetoric of hatred, and I didn’t want protesters to be viewed as just angry liberals.  I wanted to make sure that we stayed above all that,” Millett said.  

Millett’s speech did not go unappreciated by other participants.

“I felt that Claire’s speech was the most empowering moment,” Bermingham said.  “She is so well spoken, and it was amazing to hear what she had worked on for this rally.”

While Jones has participated in dozens of other protests, the experience was new for many CHS students, including Millet.

“During the Obama administration, there wasn’t really that much to protest because we were making so much progress,” Millett said.  “But now, I feel very threatened by the Trump administration, and I had to stand up and do something.”

The walk-out was also Bermingham’s first protest protest experience, and he was determined to attend despite the consequences.  

“The future of this nation is in the hands of millennials, and I felt that it was important that I be there,” Bermingham said.

Although admittedly disorganized in planning, the walk-out came together and left participants feeling different as they returned to class.

“The walk out gave me hope,” Millett said.  “Clayton students are so focused on school, but then I saw such a huge number of people walk out of class to participate, willing to take the consequences.  We’re not just going to become apathetic to the Trump administration.  We’re going to stand up and fight.”

CHS sophomore Saadya Shy.

As Millett gained a new perspective, Bermingham found determination.  

“We are our own people, and we should make our own decisions about what to fight for,” Bermingham said.

As she heard stories of the walk-out’s success, Jones, too, reached an important conclusion.  

“Even though the man in office is someone who ran his campaign on pure hatred, we as a community need to continue to stand with one another in solidarity and to continue to support one another and be there for one another regardless of what is happening politically,” Brooke said.  “That’s democracy.”