Thursday, March 22, 2018

'I am not fearful of punishment,' writes suspended Boyertown student, 'I am fearful of being silenced'









Blogger's Note: The following is an essay written by Boyertown Area High School student Abigail Slater. She was required to write an essay about "what she did wrong" while she served her one-day in-school in-school suspension for walking out of school on March 14 as part of the National Walk Out Day. If you would like to submit a guest post to this blog, send it to ebrandt@pottsmerc.com

On March 14th, 2018, I, Abigail Slater, walked out of the building in protest of gun violence and security in schools. 

This was an act of civil disobedience and I am proud to say I was part of this movement. I feel ashamed to be part of a school that punishes students for protesting, but it helped me in the long run. 

After receiving my suspension, I interviewed with the newspaper. Not only was I able to get more attention to the cause, but since I received a punishment it got people’s attention. 

The actions taken by the school against the students’ protest has sent a wave of anger and tension throughout the student body. I am optimistic that this will spark a movement towards change. 

I would like to see more people walk out and protest. 

Rosa Parks said, “You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.” 

The school tried to scare us by implementing punishments on students who walked out. For most students, the fear of being punished caused them to be silent. 

I am not fearful of punishment. I am fearful of being silenced. 
There are many of different types of people in this school, we usually just talk to people who are the most similar to ourselves. 

Yesterday, I walked out with people who I usually wouldn’t talk to otherwise. It shows a common goal. 

The walk out symbolized the unity of the student body. We all don’t talk to each other but when we all want change we come together. 

This school is supposed to be about preparing us for our futures, but when we want to spark change to shape our futures, we are punished. 

I hope this event proves to be a catalyst that triggers students to take a stand against authority to do what they believe is right. 

I am proud of myself and the others who walked with me. I will encourage others to join me next time. 

Our voices will be heard. We are the future.

56 comments:

  1. There is a kid who gets it and a school district who doesn't.

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    1. Agreed. These young people give me hope.

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    2. stay strong and see you Sunday at the March!

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    3. Demonstrating in support of relinquishing our liberties is never right. People like Rosa Parks did it for the opposite reason. She didn't demand that all white people sit in the back... she demanded that all people be treated equally.

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  2. walk out of your job to protest and see what happens. what a joke, these kids are in for a ruff ride in the future

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    1. Let me tell you about thing that happens all the time called "a strike."

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    2. Strikes have led to decline of manufacturing in this country. The decline of middle class is because unions got greedy and the companies said "We're outta here." Every action has a cost.

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    3. Here we go again - off to the associative argument and misdirection. Really? We go from kids exercising their right to free speech and protest to call attention to them being MURDERED and you bring unions and strikes and associate this with a "work walkout" How moronic. Would you "walk out" of work if someone with a high capacity AR-15 came in shooting? See what happens when you take things out of context? You think this topic is joke? You think kids protesting are a joke? You're line of thinking is the very reason they're protesting. While you've been asleep at the wheel, they're being MURDERED. Wake up. If you can't support them respect them. If you can't respect them then at least honor their rights. And if you can't honor their rights, and think their actions are a joke, then shut-up and leave. Park your smarmy ass in some monarchy run country and see how long your free speech lasts. Fool.

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    4. I support the students. Would you the leaders of the school rather write eulogies. Protests get things done. Unions and strikes stay out if this . It's about life and death. My daughter already graduated but I would have walked along side if her. You administration at this school rape the taxpayers everyday. There is alot about this district that could be protested.

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    5. Well said all. Many districts actually made time for the 17 minute walkout with no pressure put on kids who stayed. Many had tests or needed to stay in class but all teachers respected the time taken with no penalties. Boyertown, so sad....no place for hate, right? Laughable! Why is everyone posting as anonymous? We should be fearless on this topic!

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  3. All these little brats and arrogant kids think it's ok to walk out and protest do they not realize that laws have already been placed and been there for so many years first eating tide pods now thinking they know anything about gun laws haha 99% don't know we have them or know anything about them lol kids need to be have theirs asses smacked more and more discipline most adults are trying to be their kids friends instead of a parent smh.

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    1. Have you heard of this cool new law called the 1st amendment? :)

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    2. The 1st amendment is a law? I didn't know that. Maybe I should have paid attention in my History and US Government classes.

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    3. We also have the second amendment.

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    4. well written, but the school implemented a protocol which should have been attached to this essay which read that the reason they were not allowing the walk out was to keep the students safe and not in a situation where they would be set up in case someone wanted to be harmful, with all the students outside of the building they were an easy target. They offered an area inside to use instead of going outside for their protest. She and the student body were warned if they left the building consequences would be enforced.

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    5. Congratulations to Abigail for a thoughtful and well-constructed essay. I hope you continue to express your opinions and try to effect change.

      To the poorly educated individual who constructed this comment. We live in a country where you are allowed to express your opinion and so is Abigail. A child should be able to express their concern when they feel unsafe. I don’t think the student walkouts themselves will change our current situations but if these students continue their fight, I believe they can make a difference. It saddens me that you feel attacking a teenager and making extremely broad generalizations about children is an effective way to express your opinion.

      Here are some facts for both you and Abigail:

      In 2005, approximately 2.8 million guns were sold in the US. (per ATF statistics)
      In 2016, over 10 million guns were sold in the US. (per ATF statistics)
      That means the annual sale of guns increased 74% while during the same time period the U.S. population only increase 9%.

      Gun Law Overview in PA (per NRA)
      There is NO permit needed to purchase – rifles, shotguns, or handguns.
      There is NO registration of firearms – rifles, shotguns or handguns.
      There is NO licensing of owners – rifles, shotguns or handguns.
      There is NO permit to carry – rifles or shotguns.
      There IS a permit to carry handguns.

      Now here are my opinions for you – There are too many guns and too few, poorly enforced gun laws. Guns are just as dangerous if not more dangerous than cars. You should be required to pass a certification test, a health test and have a registration for your gun(s). If you plan to have your gun in a household with children, there should be some type of gun lock or gun safe to prevent your gun from being accessed by children. There is also a major gap in the Instant Check System which needs to be addressed. Agencies, dealers or individuals who break laws also need to face greater penalties.

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    6. She actually did the right thing. There were 17 children who lost their lives from some dumbo, which he still has a life when they don’t! She is protesting on something good so she isn’t a brat or arrogant she is a brave girl for doing this. Good job Abigail!

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    7. You say the kids are dumb? Her essay was punctuated and featured no run on sentences.

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    8. My thoughts and prayers are with you, anonymous "little brats"....

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    9. Registering guns means the government can take them for any reason. Donald Trump is in office. Do you want him to be the guy with all the guns?

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  4. Yup snowflake.,,

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    1. Oh yeah not wanting to die in school TOTALLY makes people snowflakes

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    2. Yup knuckle-dragger.,,

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  5. Have you heard of this cool new law called the 1st amendment? :)

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  6. Nice job kid. Do what you think is right. Keep up the good work and thanks for caring. #RealtorAndGreatDad

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  7. Great job young people. I'm very proud of your efforts.
    Alexandria Khalil - Jenkintown, Pa

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  8. Let me guess. The group you walked out of school with aren't the ones who take education seriously. There's a reason why you don't typically interact with them. To them this "protest" was just another excuse to leave school.

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  9. Excellent essay - thoughtful and well written! It takes guts to protest when you know you are going to be punished.

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  10. Always stand for what you believe in. You and others like you give me hope for the future.

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  11. you should stay in school honey to actually see it is NOT the gun BUT the one behind it that is the enemy. Check your history, oh that's right it's more fun to protest and not learn history, of how when guns were taken from the people they were murdered, no way to defend themselves. You probably are one of those that liked to bully these kids to take action of shooting up others because they are tired of it. Or you might be one of those that think it is great for males or females to use each others restrooms and identify themselves as the opposite gender. How sad this future generation is. Not taught the basic rules but to protest and follow all others.

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    1. ...That... that's the point of gun control...to make sure the wrong people don't get guns...I think you may also need some more schooling honey, it's seriously showing in your inability to listen, understand and comprehend information. I guess that's the problem with all of you however; only arguing to answer but never to listen and too cowardly to even put an identity with their small minded words.

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    2. If you knew anything about the history of the world, you'd know that curbing gun related deaths and crime is directly correlated with reduction of firearms, specifically ones in the hands of people who shouldn't have them. this isn't a matter of taking every single gun from every single person, it's a matter of accountability for our choice in lifestyle. If we want the right to own guns, we are subject to the negative repercussions that they pose. Registering firearms should be no different than registering cars. I would have no problem with registering my guns and subjecting myself to proper licensing requirements. It takes six months of training to be behind the wheel, but takes a minimally invasive background check to obtain a gun.

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  12. Again the school gave a safe option that she chose not to follow. The action received the said consequence. She did not have to go outside the building to make her thoughts heard.

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  13. These “little brats and arrogant kids” you are referring to are ultimately our future. You may continue to insult and put down younger generations, just know when they are our future business leaders, politicians, etc. it will have been NO thanks to negative people like you. These young people need to be encouraged to get involved, especially now as it will prepare them for their future. Get a grip.

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  14. "Have hope. When your children must act like leaders because your leaders act like children, change is not far away ..."

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  15. I am Abigail's mother and I am so proud of her. Despite whatever side of the issue you are on you have to admire her courage. She was not scared of the school and was not worried about paying the price for walking out. One thing that you will not know from Abigail's essay or her interview, is that my daughter is a hunter. Abigail handles guns and shares an interest in hunting with her father; she has killed a few deer on our farm. So she knows first hand the seriousness of possessing a gun, the importance of being safe; she is not naive to guns. She understands and agrees people have a right to bear arms because this is a part of her own family's culture. But she also believes in sensible gun controls and better access to mental health services as she mentions in her essay. And before anyone jumps to the stereotypes they think of when they think of gun owners --we do not support or belong to the NRA. The NRA are big part of the problem as they polarize the two sides for their own gain. So I hope that people will admire her courage and think before bashing a 17 year old who believes she is following in the footsteps of others before her who also used peaceful civil disobedience as successful way to highlight the need for change.

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    1. When I was reading her essay i thought "I bet her mother is proud"....you have much to be proud of!

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    2. I'm very proud of Abigail and all the other students that took a stand for what they believe in. They are always telling the kids to grow up, do things for yourself. So they do and they get punished . Totally unfair

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    3. Mrs. Slater, the understanding and support you show for your daughter in this Reply is incredible. I can see where her maturity, bravery and thoughtfulness comes from. I am so glad she is being recognized in a positive way for the risk she took. She is a leader that others of all ages will look up to, because she has conviction and is willing to take a chance for what she believes in. I commend you and Abigail.

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  16. I won't disparage Abigail's essay or her courage to express herself, however let me remind everyone on both sides of the issue that our freedom to do so was guaranteed by our Veterans who didn't have the option of "walking out". I agree that gun violence is a major concern but a bigger concern is the state of mind of some of our youth that end up wanting to harm their peers. Abigail obviously comes from a loving and caring household. To my way of thinking the disintegration of the family unit is what has us in this situation and civil disobedience is not the answer to that.
    A disabled Vietnam Veteran.

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  17. I hope her parents are proud because as a fellow Boyertown resident I sure am not.

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  18. I commend you, Abigail, for doing what you believe is right. I admire you too. You have a tremendous amount of maturity and bravery. It's incredible you connected with students you wouldn't typically talk to, through this experience. Your story gives me inspiration to carry on.

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  19. 10 bucks more than half these kids walked out just to get a free day. Probably about 10% in all were serious. The other 90% Probably didn't give one shit��

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    1. Our kids walked out. And are walking today. I assure you they ARE serious. They are not seeking free time; they're giving up their free time. They are in this to send a loud and clear message that several somethings must be done. I'm extremely proud of them. Go Abigail!

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    2. It was a 17 minute walk out. Not a "free day."

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  20. WELL DONE!! AS a woman in a country plagued by patriarchy, get used to being pummeled and derogated for standing up for ANYTHING. There will always be haters. There will always be people who are too scared to stand up for what they believe in who will be more than willing to put you down for being brave. You make them look small-- and they hate that. The cowards are often the detractors-- too scared to get in the arena with the lions, they criticize you from the safety of the stands. Keep speaking up! Keep standing up! You are a fine example for your peers (and for adults, too!). Many blessings to you, brave soul!

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  21. My question to this child is why would you protest to have your 2nd Amendment rights trampled on. Do you think it was actually the fault oof the gun used. It is the fault of the little democrat twit and he would have killed with anything he could get his hands on. Instead of destroying our Constitution and Bill of Rights law enforcement should be doing their jobs. The shooter was visited by the local sheriff almost 30 times and they did nothing. The FBI was warned about him and they did nothing. But on the bright side the sheriff found time to teach gun classes to the local muslims.Children not being disciplined by their parents is the problem not GUNS.

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  22. Another entitled snowflake who thinks she doesn't have to follow the rules.

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    1. You do understand that the history of our country is written in disobedience, right?

      Our country formed because the rule of law was not protecting nor safeguarding our interests. I suppose you'd call Adams, Franklin, Lafayette, Jefferson, and Washington snowflakes, too.

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  23. Abigail, thank you to you and the other students who exercised your First Ammendment rights. Rules and laws are made to serve the best needs of people and not the other way around. I was a BASH teacher for 32 years; my son is a BASH grad; I continue to reside in the district and pay taxes there. You remind me of why working with teenagers is such a special thing. I am disgusted that the school district took an easy, lazy, authoritarian stance. The supposed safety concerns are excuses. How do they keep students safe during fire drills? During lunch when they are free to go out into town? Other similar events? How is it that countless schools across America, including locally, found a way to enable their students safely, but Boyertown could not figure it out? Once again, congratulations to you. Stay safe as you continue to fight, and I am so sorry my tax dollars were used to bully you. — Lesley Misko

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  24. Congratulations for not letting fear stand in the way of your heart and what you think is right. This may be the best lesson you learned at BASH!i applaud your courage and wish for change... and i am Sorry that my generation is putting this on your backs...i am sorry for letting you down

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  25. Abigail,

    While the protest was about revising our gun laws, the real issue for me is your freedom of speech. We have rights in this country and I'm so glad you stood up for yours. There is a long history in this country of people standing up and speaking up. You students are a guiding light in this fight. I loved your essay. The school tried to frame it as an apology to them, you kept the focus where it belonged.

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  26. Good job, Abigail! Don't worry about the naysayers, it's because of thoughtful and courageous people that the best changes take place. :)

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  27. Thanks Abigail. As a BASH alumnus, I am proud of you. The hateful comments on here are despicable and these haters are why Boyertown has a reputation for being intolerant (think white supremacy). Also the haters hide behind the anonymous icon.

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  28. Way to go, Abagail! I am embarrassed that my high school alma mater was so ignorant and closed-minded. It is everyone’s right to take advantages of this freedom that I and other vets served and fought for.

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