What I learned when I walked out of school this Monday to rally for RPS

Chris Bolling and some of his fellow students at Open High organized a student walkout this Monday that made waves. He is also our intern, and we are very proud. Here are his thoughts.

Photo by: Marc Tomik

The weeks leading up to Monday’s walkout/rally felt like walking through a hazy and dense cloud. Myself and six other students heard about the Mayor’s budget proposal–which would require the closing and/or merging of five Richmond Public Schools–and reacted accordingly. Three of the schools that would be scheduled to close were elementary (John B. Cary, and Swansboro),1 one would be Armstrong High, and two (Open and Community) high schools would be merged.

As a collective of Open High students who care greatly about the impact that this budget would have on us, we called ourselves Students for RPS–a student-led and student-organized group that hopes to inspire future conversations about OUR education, involving student input that moves beyond the doors of the classroom. As a group, we noticed a lack of adult responses and outrage from the Mayor’s proposal, so we reacted.

We realized that the only way for our education to become a priority is if we make it a priority. With this in mind, we rallied together and realized our potential. We decided to be the example that we knew we needed.

Weeks leading up to the Walkout/ Rally

We went by other local high schools, like Thomas Jefferson, Community, Franklin Military, and Armstrong, to drop off flyers and spread the word. We started a Facebook page and an email address to field any questions or comments that people would have about us. And everything else just sort of unfolded as it was supposed to. The word got out really quickly, and there were a great number of people who were open to helping us, whether bringing themselves or snacks or even supplying us with water. After taking the lead and standing up for what’s right, we noticed that even if we didn’t complete our “mission” at hand, we still knew that the community was here for us.

Within Richmond Public schools, we saw the greater relationship between schools and community–a vivid and diverse community that merely needs to know what to support and how to support it. A community that is only an arm’s- length away, whose efforts helped to persuade, City Council and the Mayor to invest in our schools and by doing so, investing in our future and that of the city of Richmond. We, as Students for RPS, will always be thankful for this community, and will never forget their ability to rally and stand in support of us.

  1. You may see Overby Sheppard on the lists, but it’s really just that the building will be closed. The school community will be moved. 
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Chris Bolling

Air breather, food eater, coffee drinker. And the newest intern at RVANews.

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