Ramstein seniors stage sit-in to stand up
October 19, 2007
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — A group of 140 seniors at Ramstein High School proudly became student activists Thursday, staging a sit-in at the school to protest a new study hall policy.
Determined to change the way seminar classes are structured, student organizers said it was the only way to get their message across to administrators.
After a failed petition drive, “this was our last option,” said senior class president Jackson Knox, one of eight students who led the quiet demonstration, which involved about half of the senior class.
To “cut back on socializing,” the school’s 90-minute seminar classes — which all students take to catch up on course work and meet with teachers or study groups — now include students from all four grades.
“We found that there wasn’t a lot of studying going on (before.) We decided to move toward a more structured seminar,” principal Greg Hatch said.
But the seniors contend that the single-grade seminars were more productive and, what’s more, worth fighting for. They said it’s easier to share notes and study with other students when everyone is in the same grade and taking similar, if not the same classes.
The protest involved students sitting in Ramstein’s “senior hall” as they did homework, chatted quietly and even signed in and out with student organizers to use the bathroom. Most did not walk out of class but instead met in the hall at the beginning of the period.
“We’re standing up for what we think is right,” said Justin Curnutt, senior class vice president.
But Hatch said the seniors need to take their message to Ramstein’s School Advisory Committee — an avenue the students said they already took in September to no avail.
Hatch met with Knox, Curnutt and other organizers during the sit-in. For now, though, it seems the parties are at an impasse.
“It’s going to take more than just an isolated group with a particular demand to change anything,” Hatch said.
While Hatch isn’t budging, neither are the students, who said they’re planning another sit-in for Monday.
“We’re going to keep doing this until our concerns are met,” Knox said.
Disciplinary action against those who participated in the sit-in likely will be minimal because the administration was informed beforehand and students did their best to minimize the disruption of classes, Hatch said.
Though he clearly wasn’t amused by the situation Thursday, he said “the students I met with are genuine. … They certainly have a goal they’re looking to meet. I can acknowledge that.”