Student protest leads to grief forum, possible memorial service

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Student protest leads to grief forum, possible memorial service

Students sit in the Wedge during a protest Wednesday, April 2 between D lunch and 4th period.

Students sit in the Wedge during a protest Wednesday, April 2 between D lunch and 4th period.

Bridget Protsman

Students sit in the Wedge during a protest Wednesday, April 2 between D lunch and 4th period.

Bridget Protsman

Bridget Protsman

Students sit in the Wedge during a protest Wednesday, April 2 between D lunch and 4th period.

Jamie Zega and lakecentralnews

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As D lunch ended and 4th period began, more than 200 students gathered Wednesday, April 2 in the Wedge and Main Street to protest the lack of an announcement following the death of a former student.

Although this student was not currently enrolled, the protesting students still felt that the school was responsible for acknowledging his death through an announcement, as they do for currently enrolled students who die.

Faculty members were made aware of the death Monday and were provided instructions to send grieving students to their counselors if needed.

“I went not to rebel or get out of class like many. I went for Mike,” Natalia Kuzbiel (10) said. “No, I didn’t know him. [I’ve] seen him a few times, but he is one of us and to not stand up for one just like myself would be cowardly of me.”

The students gathered and sat on the floor of the Wedge and Main Street. After principals and other administrators got to the two scenes, multiple St. John police officers arrived to help supervise.

Although students were informed of possible consequences, including suspensions, official discipline reports have yet to been filed, though one senior was removed by the St. John police. Despite the First Amendment guarantee of assembly, students posing a disruption to the school day forfeit that right.

The administration encouraged students to return to class, or go to the LGI. Around 1:30 p.m. students gathered into what became an open forum for their grief, the school’s reaction and what can be done from here.

“We should be given a chance to grieve as a school,” Kuzbiel said in the forum.

After Mr. Robin Tobias, Principal, arrived, students originally greeted him with “Ohs;” however, after Aaron Scott (10) asked for some respect from the student body, the students applauded as he entered.

At 1:34 p.m., the room observed a moment of silence, as the students requested. Students were also looking for the administration to make a school-wide announcement.

As the students calmed down from their accusations and demands, Mr. Tobias made it clear that, “the concept of death is not easy for anybody,” and we all must grieve accordingly. He also made note of the fact that there were two courses of action that the administration could have take: all students could have been removed from the scene by the police, “one by one if that’s what it took,” or they could gather, as they did in the LGI, and reflect.

“Getting together to mourn somebody’s death is awesome and positive. Disrupting the course of the day, that’s not so good,” Mr. Tobias said while addressing the students.

He made mention of the fact that a signature banner in the guidance office had been approved, also mentioning that communication is essential in avoiding similar situations.

“Every person in this room is extremely important to me,” Mr. Tobias said. “Everybody outside of here and in their classrooms is extremely important to me…as a school principal, I need to think about the whole school.”

The administration cannot plan or make arrangements for any student’s memorial service; however, the school can provide space for a student-organized event and offer support. Details on a student-led memorial service are yet to be determined.