RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – High school students in Richmond are preparing to leave their classrooms empty next week, demanding the city take action in their schools.
Students at Open High School are spearheading plans to walk out of class at 2 p.m. on Monday, with students at every high school making plans to participate. The coordinated efforts come as a show of opposition to the potential closing of several Richmond Public Schools.
“We need better,” said Open High School junior Chris Bolling. “We know that we deserve better.”
Bolling and his classmates are ready to fight for the future of Richmond’s Public Schools.
“Movement – whether it be walking or running, has always been a powerful asset to show how you feel about something,” Bolling told 8News.
During their final class of the day, they will close their books, zip their bags, and leave.
“It’s going to be a domino effect where one person leads and it just continues from our school to different schools in the district,” said Bolling.
Students have worked tirelessly to post flyers, meeting with school principals and spreading word of the walkout online.
“The students are upset about our conditions,” said classmate Andrew Anderegg. “We’re not just droning through everything that’s going on. We’re actually paying attention to what happens to our school.”
The students hope the bold move will grab city officials’ attention and move them to find a way to fill the $18 million budget gap the district faces after city administrators denied a request for additional funding for the fiscal year starting in July.
“If we see that you don’t care about schools, then why should we care about schools in essence,” asked Bolling.
RPS spokeswoman Kenita Bowers told 8News that while the district applauds the students’ for being courageous in taking a stance for something they believe in, “they are encouraged to send an even stronger message by not allowing the distractions of our budget challenges to deter them from continuing to focus on their academics and advocate in other ways that do not put them in a position to violate the Student Code of Responsible Ethics (SCORE).”
After the walkout, students are planning to reassemble for a public protest with parents and teachers ahead of Monday’s city council meeting. The rally gets underway at 5 p.m., on the front steps of city hall.