garfield high01.jpg
At 12:30 p.m. today Garfield High School students will stand up and walk out of classrooms, en masse, making them the latest (and perhaps the

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Garfield High School Students to Walk Out of Classrooms in Protest to Education Cuts

garfield high01.jpg
At 12:30 p.m. today Garfield High School students will stand up and walk out of classrooms, en masse, making them the latest (and perhaps the youngest) additions to the growing movement of protestors against statewide budget cuts.

"This is a school that's been very threatened by budget cuts in the past," 17-year-old Garfield student Sam Heft-Luthy, who is one of many organizers of the walkout, tells Seattle Weekly. "We've seen programs cut. We've had teachers who we've loved leave because it's cheaper to lay them off. We've seen the effect that a lack of funds has had, and since we cant really go to Olympia, were really walking out to show solidarity with the people who are going to Olympia."

The students also issued a list of "grievances" that they say have already hindered their education.

-Students who want full schedules have been denied them due to a lack

of teachers. Many seniors were denied a science class due to a

complete lack of state science funding.

-Other academic courses, such as advanced math classes, have been

repeatedly cut from our school.

-The removal of summer school and night school has removed resources

that allowed many students to graduate on time, therefore effectively

increasing the amount the state must spend on those students.

Heft-Luthy says that the walkout idea actually started as a way to show support for Garfield High School history teacher Jesse Hagopian who was arrested on Monday while protesting budget cuts in Olympia. But the student says it soon became clear that Hagopian was trying to get arrested in a sign of peaceful disobedience, so the focus of the walkout switched to support of the issues that the teacher was fighting for.

Whether the students will face punishment for the walkout seems unclear. Heft-Luthy says that Garfield Principal Ted Howard told one student that he agrees with the walkout's aims, and while he couldn't condone the action outright, students wouldn't need to fear suspensions or other academic retribution.

Calls to Garfield were referred to the Seattle Public Schools district office where spokespeople were still crafting a response to the action.

UPDATE: Garfield High School has just posted this message on its website in regards to whether students will face punishment for walking out.

GARFIELD PARENTS/GUARDIANS-Announcement for 11/30:

Any Garfield student who is considering being part of a student planned 'walk out' will not have their absence(s) excused UNLESS they have a note written from parent/guardian.

Tammy Luthy, Heft-Luthy's mother, meanwhile, tells Seattle Weekly that she supports her son "one hundred percent."

"Sam reached the point where e-mailing Congressmen and Senators isn't enough,"she says. "He wanted to let his voice be heard."

 
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