When protesters’ chants were heard ringing through the campus during lunch hour, many students eagerly followed Occupy Redwood City members to .
It was no Ferris Bueller’s day off, as the students weren’t seeking high-flying adventure, rather curiously joined the rally planned by former Sequoia High School student, Holly Cordeiro, in solidarity with International Workers’ Day, or May Day. Around the nation, many Occupy groups are participating in various forms of protests.
“They easily could have ditched school just to ditch school,” Cordeiro, 20, a student on the City College of San Francisco, said. “But they chose to come here and even learn something about what’s going on in the world now.”
The same impact wouldn’t have been achieved, she said, if the nearly 100 students waited till after school to leave campus. Just as many workers around the world are leaving their posts, these students also made a statement by choosing to leave an institution that doesn’t always prepare them for the future, Cordeiro said.
“For those that were ballsy enough to come, they now have an opportunity to express their feelings,” she said.
An open mic session allowed students to air their grievances or simply have the spotlight for a few minutes.
One student read off the college tuition costs in other countries, and finally contrasted the much higher average in the United States.
Others, in juvenile teenager fashion, yelled obscenities like “F*** the government!” then sped off. Another sophomore, David Foresti, 15, with a sign that said “Legalize marijuana” said that he simply didn’t want to stay in school and he wasn’t worried about the consequences of skipping class because “there would be too many students to suspend.”
However, Sophomore Emmanuel Nevarez, 15, decided to join the protest, partially for an excuse to leave campus, he admitted, but to also see what would come of a rally that had been happening weekly in his community.
He articulated his concerns about the continuing budget cuts that could lay off the very teachers whose classrooms he left. He pointed to the cuts in the art program as a result of the budget cuts.
“Who knows if it’ll happen to our teachers?” he said.
Nevarez’s friend, who asked to remain anonymous, also saw the opportunity to have his voice heard.
“Usually I’m a quiet kid, but this was my chance to stand up and do something,” the sophomore said.
“This is amazing that students are standing up and noticing what’s going around them,” said Occupy San Jose member Joseph Rosas, who is also running for Assembly Member in California's 24th District. “They could become a lost generation because they can’t afford a higher education.”
High school students with aspirations to attend college are questioning the merits of college because of rising tuition costs, Rosas said. Plus even after graduation, there is no guarantee of securing a job.
To spur them to action, Occupy members brought voter registration forms as well as pamphlets about education cuts.
Joel Sarch, a Belmont resident and member of Occupy Redwood City, said he attended specifically to support the high school students.
“They’re being screwed,” he said. “Yet they’re the next generation.”
He believed that as youth, they’re not completely jaded yet and still have the fight inside them to promote change.
“We have to energize them to get active, and then get that energy back from them,” he said.
Occupy plans to continue helping more students organize, from those at to the College of San Mateo to Notre Dame de Namur University.