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Neuqua Valley Students organize a walkout in solidarity with Palestine

Around 150 Neuqua Valley High School students walked out of school, held up signs, and recited slogans as they went down 95th St. on April 6 to show support and solidarity with Palestine.

NVHS students met up at the flagpole and began their walk at 7:25 a.m. on the main street while chanting with cars honking along to show their support. The walkout was aimed at bringing attention to the situation in Palestine.

Several NVHS students, including Neuqua Valley junior Alisha Sethi, organized the walkout to make a distinct impact.

“We wanted to spread awareness because the things going on in Palestine aren’t being shown on mainstream media,” Alisha Sethi said. “The point of the walkout is to cause a disruption and show the severity of what’s going on.”

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The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine has sparked discourse worldwide. According to the Associated Press, on Oct. 7, Hamas militants invaded Israel initiating a war between them. Since then, more than 33,137 Palestinians in Gaza and approximately 1,400 Israelis have lost their lives.

Due to the situation at hand, a significant number of students have expressed their desire to voice their opinions and stand up for what they believe is right. Among them, Dereck Lu, a junior at NVHS, highlighted the significance of exercising the right to protest especially as a student regardless of fear.

“The name walkout is intimidating to many students, therefore many individuals  didn’t want to go because they didn’t want to face potential consequences,” Lu said.”However, as US citizens, we have the right to freedom of speech, so having local opinions like these is important to educate the community.”

This event was a peaceful demonstration of unity created by wanting justice. Neuqua Valley junior, Yousuf Islam explains how it felt during the moment.

“I saw a serious, strict, and determined gaze in every participant,” Islam said. “The atmosphere was filled with fervor and determination to make others hear our message.”

Neuqua Valley principal Lance Fuhrer didn’t respond to a request for an interview.  Shortly after the protest, Fuhrer released a statement to clarify his stance.

“While we are aware that students were planning this action, we do not support it. We do, however, recognize that such protests are constitutionally protected,” Fuhrer said.

According to Pacifica Law Group, what teachers say inside the classroom is considered speech on behalf of the school district and therefore is generally not entitled to First Amendment protection. School administrators aren’t allowed to have a specific opinion over these sorts of matters. In his statement, Fuhrer reiterated that all school rules must still be followed.

“All school rules and board policies that apply to students in school apply to any student behaviors on campus,” Fuhrer said. There have been recent reports that students who have participated in the walkout have received detentions due to being marked as truant.

For Islam, this was an impactful memory for all of those who participated and for those who were watching from afar.

“A walkout is just one step in the process of protesting Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine,” Islam said. “There is much more to be done.”

This story was originally published on Metea Media on April 9, 2024.