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. 
  • error

    Report an error

Chris Bolling

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

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Vail Ryan on said:

    Give ’em hell. Demand that they behave like responsible adults. This is about your future and that of those who come after you. Don’t give up!

  2. “Act like responsible adults” – hard to do when you are balancing a very tight budget. Who gets to keep their funding or see an increase? RRHC so they can maintain their housing and ensure more folks get access? RPD who are shedding experienced officers as they go to other localities that offer more pay for less headaches? RFD who has stations in need or repair, apparatus that is nearly 20 years old? Or RPS who need to repair their infrastructure and continue to offer services to their students? DPW/DPU to keep our roads and utilities operational – been on the roads lately? I assure you, the least responsible thing to do is walk out – and as the city budget gets tighter, and mis-management exists at every level of that bureaucracy, it will get more difficult to dole out increased amounts of money to any organization no matter how much they protest. Better to find a solution that allows maximizing the resources they already have and not wasting them, at least until those resources become available. THAT is behaving like a responsible adult.

  3. NADINE ROZIER on said:

    The actions of Student for RPS is truly refreshing news. We usually hear the negative about our kids, but not this time. The young people presented themselves in an organized and dignified manner. They spoke intelligently about there concerns and wishes. I am the very, very proud Aunt of Christopher Edward Bolling!! Way to go Chris and Students of RPS, not only is Richmond behind you, but from the online social media comments people across the state of VA are behind you as well.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with an asterisk (*).

Or report an error instead