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a seventies experience

I went to high school back in the mid-70s. Our campus was also closed. The administration cited liability issues, and also worried that high school kids all over our small tourist town would increase the litter problem.

We marched, too, but not during school hours. Instead, a large group of us paraded through town on a weekend, picking up trash from one end of the small town's main street to the other. Then we took a caravan of cars and pickup trucks out to the county landfill.

We got into the news not just for our protest, but for doing something constructive, demonstrating a sense of responsibility that our opponents claimed high schoolers lacked. Our "trash walk" didn't get an open campus right away, but it silenced the opposition and won us the moral high ground. We continued to follow through for some months afterward, mostly to secure parental approval and address liability issues. We eventually achieved open campus well before I and many of the other protesters graduated. (I was a junior at the time of the "trash walk.")

From that experience, I have three pieces of advice for Aptos High students:

1. Listen to those who oppose you, and do what you can to address their valid and fair concerns.
2. A well-organized, well-publicized demonstration that shows numbers and proper attention paid to item #1 will very often carry the day. People don't expect high schoolers to be serious about anything, and that is an advantage for you.
3. Even if item #2 is successful, don't expect instant gratification. High schoolers don't like to wait weeks, much less months or years. Unfortunately, school administrations and boards tend to move more slowly, but they will move if you keep pushing. The hardest part is maintaining the will to win over the long haul. You will be distracted by many other things along the way, so be very careful to stay on track.

Good luck. It can be done.
 


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