Highland High School students walked out of class Monday morning, opting instead for the sidewalks Olympus Drive. They were out with signs and banners, trying to rally support against the Students Come First plan. It was part of a statewide, student-led initiative coordinated through Facebook, and it did not just affect Pocatello.
Highland protest organizer Aliiana Kelemete came out to support a teacher she is close to: Her mother.
“It’s ridiculous to think that they’re going to put so many kids in a classroom and think that we’re going to learn off of computers,” Kelemete said.
That kind of learning would be impossible, said Jesse Boren. He has been diagnosed with ADHD.
“If I don’t get the one-on-one time I need, I’m failing classes. So with 100 kids in one class with one teacher, I’m not going to get the time that I need,” Boren said.
Having students on the side of a busy road was a safety concern for the school. School resource officer Mark Daniels said he spent the day making sure the kids were safe.
“We had one or two complaints that they were stepping off into the roadway, but we went down and addressed that with them and they’re complying with the rules now,? Daniels said.
Principal David Ross said there is no way to stop students from leaving, and that most have only missed one class.
“They’re missing a class, an elective class that they don’t have a final in, and they’re just going out by period,” Ross said.
That may be the case at Highland, but all of the students in Clark county missed the entire day of school.
Clark County School District Superintendent Dave Kerns said 26 percent of students were absent Monday, so they shut down the whole district. About 20 were involved in their walkout, and the rest were all ill, Kerns said.
In American Falls, students left the high school and drove around the center of town, honking their horns in front of the court house.
Whether protests get the attention of the state superintendent, the students from Highland said they are making a difference.