Redmond-area high schoolers walk out of class in protest of presidential election results

Dozens of Redmond High School (RHS) students walked out of class Monday afternoon to express their feelings about the results of last week’s presidential election.

While other demonstrations across the country have been held since last Tuesday to protest Donald Trump becoming the next president, the goal of the RHS demonstration was more about bringing people together.


Senior Michael Li, who participated in the walkout, said the goal was for students to come together to show their support and love for each other. The 17-year-old said many students wore safety pins, a symbol that has emerged in the last week for people to show their solidarity with one another to keep each other safe.

Li said he participated in the walkout because he feels there has been more open discrimination since the election. And some of that discrimination has been personal.

As a Running Start student, he attends Bellevue College part time and in the last week since Trump was elected, people have shouted racist remarks at him as he’s walked around campus.

“Can you see out of those eyes?” was one example of the types of comments Li, who is Asian American, has been getting.

Students from all grades participated in the demonstration. They walked out of their last period class at 1:30 p.m., half an hour before school was out for the day.

Li said they remained on campus at the front of the school, staying quiet to not disrupt students who chose to stay in class.

Sneha Durairaj, a junior who also participated in the walkout, said while they didn’t march or yell, the students did unite.

“I was so impressed by the turnout and how everyone was so welcoming,” she said. “It wasn’t about whether you’re white or a person of color, whether you’re straight or LGBT, whether you’re a man or a woman. It was more about being human. The country is so divided right now and it was about coming together despite our differences.”

Durairaj added that while the Electoral College elected a candidate who won because of his ability to divide people, the students’ peaceful protest directly went against everything that hate stands for.


In addition to RHS, students from other schools in Lake Washington School District (LWSD) such as Juanita and Lake Washington high schools also walked out at the same time.

At Lake Washington High School (LWHS), which is in Kirkland but has Redmond students as well, students never left campus. However, dozens of LWHS students gathered at the entrance to the school near Northeast 80th Street.

“Watching our country descend into this reign of bigotry was difficult to watch as someone who can’t vote,” sophomore Anna Captain, one of the walkout organizers, said.

Several students spoke at the rally, including seniors Reem Siddiqui and Grace Robinson, who wrote a poem titled “If We Don’t Speak Up.”

“We both feel really strongly about this election,” Siddiqui said of their inspiration to write the poem and share it with their fellow protesters.


On the Reporter’s Facebook page, readers shared their thoughts on the student walkouts. While there were many who supported the youths’ efforts, there were also those who thought students walked out of school just to skip class and that they do not understand the issues.

Emily Savage, who did not participate in the walkout, acknowledged that there probably were students who walked out just to ditch. But she also said, “to say that the teens in the Redmond area ‘don’t understand the issues’ is silly.”

“Many of us are very involved politically — some more so than our older counterparts,” the junior said. “I know more teens than adults who are educated on U.S. politics.”

Durairaj said people who assume teens walked out just to get out of class “grossly underestimate (them) as teenagers and as Americans.”

“We may not have a vote, but we do have a voice,” she said. “Also, to be quite frank, I feel that we are more educated than many voters are about the actual issues. We do projects on them, read up on them in our spare time. I think it’s important to remember that this is actually our future. The government’s leadership will influence our future lives, not so much the lives of older generations. Why would we not care?”

Durairaj added that the support they have received online is very much appreciated and she encourages people to expand on that support by joining them in coming together and making a difference themselves.


In anticipation of the walkout, LWSD Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce sent an email letter to parents beforehand to let them know about it.

According to the letter, students “are allowed to peacefully assemble in designated areas during lunch time or before or after school. Students are expected to be in class during class time. Should students choose to leave class during class time, it would be considered an unexcused absence.”

In addition to the consequences students would face if they participated in the walkout, the email recognized the district’s diversity.

“Recognizing and valuing that we are a diverse community, it is part of our mission to provide a positive, harmonious environment in which diversity is respected and encouraged,” the letter states.

Pierce also included information on a number of district policies on human dignity, civility and controversial issues as well as students’ rights and responsibility when it comes to their freedoms of expression and assembly.


According to district policy, students are encouraged to express themselves so long as it does not substantially disrupt the operation of the school and they do not use vulgar or offensive terms in classroom or assembly settings.

In addition, district policy states that individual students and student organizations “may meet in school rooms or auditoriums, or at outdoor locations on school grounds, to discuss, pass resolutions, and take other lawful action respecting any matter which directly or indirectly concerns or affects them, whether or not it relates to school” as long as they do not interfere with the normal operation of the school.

“Peaceful demonstrations are permissible, though they are to be held in designated places where they shall present no hazards to persons or property and at designated times that shall not disrupt classes or other school activities,” the policy states.

One RHS father, who has two children at the school, received the email and was out walking at the time of the walkout. He observed from Hartman Park across the street.

“I think it’s OK (for students to protest) as long as they don’t infringe on other kids’ rights,” he said.

He said he is all for everyone having their own voice.

“Freedom of speech, that’s what we’re built on right?” he asked.

Staff writer Catherine Krummey contributed to this story.