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Students walk out for #praisetheraise protest

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“Praise the raise,” over 350 students chanted in protest against the withheld raises for teachers.  

Today at 11:30 for 15 minutes, Hillsborough joined Strawberry Crest, Robinson, Alonso, Sickles, Freedom and Jefferson High School in a peaceful walkout.  

Senior ErrDaisha Floyd began to organize the event Tuesday after she saw the walkouts at other schools and she decided to stand with them and her teachers publicly.   

These walkouts were held to raise awareness of Hillsborough County teachers not receiving raises that were promised to them via contract.

“I’ve been talking to my teachers for about a week about the issue and they all expressed concern,” she said. ”Seeing the very real impact of this blatant injustice, I knew I wanted to do more.”  

In preparation, Floyd spread the word on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. She also assembled posters, markers and made half sheets of papers outlining further possible actions.  

The students surrounded the flagpole outside the front of the school with posters and chants. Officer Frank Noel, and other security, stood to the side to observe and become involved if needed. “I came out just for safety reasons, just to make sure it was a safe protest,” Noel said.   

To ensure that the walkout was broadcasted, Floyd contacted ABC Action news who was also present to record and interview the students. “I wanted to make sure the event was publicized, so students didn’t feel like it was for nothing,” Floyd said.  

Despite rumors that an administrator would suspend students and administrators at  Strawberry Crest disciplined approximately 15 students, the students today have not received the same repercussions.    

“I think the kids did a good job, and I think they timed it well and it was respectful and they didn’t interrupt a lot of instruction time,” Principal Gary Brady said. ”If the kids want to fight for what they believe in, then you want to support that, especially at this age where there are ways to do it and there are the right ways to do it, and I felt like they did a good job.”  

However, even without knowing what the consequences of protesting would be, students were still willing to do so.   

“I think it’s important because I feel like Americans don’t value education as much as other parts of the world and us being dedicated to taking the time out of our own education to show up and support the people that educate us,” junior Aisha Ademola said.  

Overall, many of the students came to the consensus that teachers deserve higher pay.  

Junior Mada Morris made a poster that said: “If to love each other is the job, then the happy life is salary, #givethemoney.” “We are the next generation so if they give the teachers a low pay grade, the teachers won’t be able to teach us and what are we going to do later on in the future when our parents die?” she said.  

Some students also recognized that teachers do work beyond what is expected. “Teachers actually pay for our supplies sometimes, you know, because the school cannot afford it so I believe that if they are taking out the extra money out of their pockets to pay for us, then we should take out our time to pay for them by protesting for them,” sophomore Tieque Davis said.  

Also, senior Tyler Barat-Abroine wore the yearbook outfit, a Hillsborean yearbook body suit, to signify the amount of time past the required time teachers stay, especially extracurriculars like journalism. “The yearbook is a very important part of the school, so if they put money into us, we can put money into that,” he said. “I love my teachers and I think that if they are coming in dealing with a lot of bad characters every day, then they deserve to be paid more than they do.”   

On the other hand, other students did not attend for various reasons.   

 In demonstration of the teachers’ care, teacher of the year Yolanda Driskell provided a pizza party for her students who performed better on a test than the district. Freshman Emma Meskunas who was at the pizza party instead, said “I would’ve gone, only because I feel like the teacher wages should be higher than what they are right now, because they are teaching us for the future and I think they deserve better.”   

Other students said they did not feel the urge to protest for teachers. “I didn’t feel like it related that much to me, like it wasn’t really that important for me to miss class for,” freshman Zion Wright said. “I feel like teachers should get paid more, but I don’t think it was so big of a commotion that everyone had to leave classes.”   

Senior Ayanna Green believes teacher should be paid more but that the district simply could not pay the funds. “I didn’t participate in the protest because our district does not have any money whatsoever, so how would we get the money to pay for teachers, the amount they should be paid?” She said. “And then if they do take money out somewhere, they would have to take it out of supplies, like printing, copy paper and ink and stuff we need for school.”  

Even though all students did not participate, Floyd still felt it was a success.  

“I hope this shows people that teachers have unwavering support. Although they cannot strike, students are willing to go for them what they have done for us. There is power in numbers.”  

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Students walk out for #praisetheraise protest