Latino students plan May 1 walkout
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Dsespite school official’s pleas that they make their point at some other time, local Latino students are pressing forward with plans to rally in Glenwood Springs in lieu of going to their classes.
Some Glenwood Springs High School students plan to join in a national protest scheduled for that day in which Latinos stay home from work and school and don’t spend their money. Students plan to attend a rally at Sayre Park in Glenwood instead.
“From what I hear, a lot of people are wanting to participate in it,” said Omar Diaz, a sophomore at Glenwood Springs High School.
Principal Paul Freeman said he hopes that’s not the case.
“My message is simple ” stay in school,” Freeman said.
Students in other local schools also may join in Monday’s action.
Freeman said he’s happy to see students being politically active. But he and other Roaring Fork School District officials prefer such activities not cost them class time. Freeman’s message to students: “There’s an education there for you, you need it, you can’t afford to lose an hour of it.”
Diaz and other students, including senior Veronica De La Torre, plan to miss the whole day as part of an effort to show how their loss would impact the workplace, the economy and America as a whole. It’s a response to calls for a national crackdown on illegal immigration.
De La Torre said if Latinos no longer attended Glenwood Springs High School, it could result in job losses for some teachers and bus drivers.
“Every little thing you don’t even think about is affected,” she said.
Freeman said students have been upfront about their plans, and don’t want to be disruptive. He understands the point they are trying to make and the difficult decision they face about whether to join in missing school Monday.
“People have to make up their own minds in their own families, according to their own conscience,” he said. “I’m saying ‘Go to school.'”
He said absences will be unexcused unless students have parental permission. District principals are sending home letters in English and Spanish this week encouraging parents to send their children to school Monday or personally supervise them if they stay at home.
“We believe that students will be much safer in school than participating in a boycott or walkout,” assistant superintendent Judy Haptonstall said. “Because we cannot deny a student’s right to leave the school, we are encouraging parents to talk with their children about the wisdom of participating in the events on May 1.”
Freeman said he worries that some students will see Monday as a simple opportunity to skip school. But Diaz said the students’ motives are genuine, and De La Torre said students don’t want their actions to be perceived negatively.
“We really believe in what we’re doing, and we want to do it right,” she said.
De La Torre and Diaz also both plan to stay home Monday from their jobs. De La Torre works at Heritage Park Care Center in Carbondale and Diaz at Taco Bell in Glenwood Springs.