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Students skip rallies, stay in classes

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image ap"><span>AP</span></div><span class="caption-text">Eight-month-old Jahayra Maldonado from Chiapas Mexico waves a flag during the May Day Rally. (Hector Mata)</span></div>
May 1, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Students were a big part of last year's May Day march. However, this year, organizers asked students to stay in school. Most of them did.LAUSD officials say unlike the past two years, this year the number of students who skipped school to attend the May Day rally was in the mere hundreds. They say no one at John Monroe High School skipped classes to be part of the march. Students we talked to say they decided to stay in classes so they would not give the events a negative tone.

Last year, an estimated 1,500 students walked out of more than a dozen L.A. Unified schools to be part of the May Day rallies. The year before, even more students walked out to join the march. Some were from James Monroe High School in North Hills.

However, Thursday there was no walkout at Monroe High. Instead, students elected to stay in their classes to discuss immigration reform.

"How many of your parents have entered this country to give you a better life? Raise your hands," said teacher Maura Draheim to her students.

"It's an important issue, and everybody should know about it," said student Julia Stadnik.

"It was approximately two years ago, I was in 10th grade, and all these students just started walking out of class, banging on windows -- it was horrible. I mean, we started realizing that most of these kids were just out there, because they were just out there. They didn't have a motive to be out there," said student Stephanie Morales.

"The administration has been very proactive in giving a forum for our school," said Draheim. "We did have the problems a couple years ago, they actually opened the gates up, they got in their cars, they followed the students, because safety was our first concern."

In years past, some protest organizers encouraged students to skip school and take part in the rallies. This year, school district officials vowed to students that if they stayed in school, they would be allowed to express themselves by holding classroom discussions and lunch hour forums on the immigration issue.

"I think it's a great alternative to them walking out because being here, we can talk about all issues, get a lot of different opinions, encourage them to watch the news tonight and see what did happen," said teacher Debbie Thomas. "If they want to get involved in something, they could do it after school."

"Mostly I'm learning about different points of view and different ways of changing stereotypes and things like that," said student Jonathan Bogna.

Students we talked to say something interested happened by staying in class. They actually learned something about the issue of immigration, as opposed to walking out of classes to attend the marches as they did in years past.

 

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