Walk Out Wednesday. The Turn I never expected.
Bell Rings. I wait for one student.
Tardy, Harmony bolts in the room louder than a third grader sitting at the adult's table. Before I arrive at the front of the room, Harmony shouts to her neighbor.
“10:30 we’re leaving. We’re walkin out. Okay. Walk out. Lets do this at 10:30.”
She said this so loud that it required me to do my job. So, I attack the situation head-on.
“If you plan on walking out today, I just want you to know that is your decision. I will call the front office. And they will call your parents.” I say.
Harmony Thinks I’m challenging her at this point.
“Whatever, Mr. Sub Man.” She says getting the class worked up. It works. I remain calm and give the death stare. I hold it for about a minute which feels like an eternity. I hold my stare for so long it losses its magic and now it looks like I have to fart. Harmony uses this opportunity to clap back.
“We get it. You're going to call home. All that means is you going to tell us.” She screams.
It's a solid comeback, but I have to move on or I’m going to lose the class. As I’m handing out the assignment for the day, a presence fills the room. It's dark, and it's the feeling that someones in deep shit. I look up and the Vice Principal is standing in front of the room.
“May I address the class?” She’s telling, not asking but showing me respect. I simply respond with a head nod. Her Presence scares the shit out of everyone in the class. Myself included.
“We will not repeat yesterday. I will give Wednesday school to each of you. I will call your parents” She’s screaming so loud my ears are ringing. Some of the students weren’t buying it.
“It’s like an episode of scared straight.” Harmony Chimes in.
“I’m calling home.” The Vice Principal holds a long beat. “Wanna keep going?” The VP says holding her stare. Harmony is shaken and puts her head down in defeat. However, I know the VP won the battle but the war is still on the horizon. The VP leaves unceremoniously and warns that she will be back. Before she leaves the classroom, I have a word with her.
“Thank you! I want to let you know, some of the students plan on walking out at 10:30. Harmony announced it loudly when she came in. I think they are going to try.” I say unconvincingly.
“Don’t even worry Mr.Marks. I have two hall monitors stationed outside this hallway. You don’t have to worry about it. That's not your job. Thanks for letting us know, we have your back. Just call the office.” She says and walks away. It’s nice knowing this VP understands the classroom dynamic.
The clock strikes 10:27 am and the mood changes. Harmony starts packing up and planning her escape. At this exact moment, the door opens and two hall monitors display their presence in the back of my classroom. This is a surprise, but I am thrilled that backup was provided.
Harmony eye’s campus monitors. And goes for it anyway. To my surprise, she makes it out of the classroom. It doesn’t take long for them the stop her and get her back in class.
“Snitch” Harmony snickers as she’s escorted back into class. Trying to act like a badass she tells her neighbor “Well, technically I can say I walked out, I was just caught.” I let it go as it's not a battle that will be won by the end of the period.
Then, something different catches my eye. Who is outside the door? I look outside and I see a student just waiting there.
“Come back inside please,” I ask calmly as I’m unsure why he is outside in the first place.
“I….. can’t,” he responds nervously.
“Why,” I ask impatiently
“I’m need to walk out.” he says.
I am not playing along. I need to get back inside and control the class. At this point, I’m worried about what's going on inside.
“If you're going to walk out, that’s your decision. I’m going to call the office if you leave. Make the right decision.” I say. His response shocks me. He has a genuine look in his eyes. As he wants to tell me something.
“You don’t understand Mr.Marks. I need to walk out. This walk out is happening because President Trump is taking away rights from people like me.” He says.
He was transgender student who went by Allen.
“I need to do this.” he says passionately.
“Is that why this walk out is happening?” I ask with sincerity.
“Yes. We are standing up for our rights. In one tweet, Trump is trying to take away rights from people like me. And its hard for me. I haven’t told my dad yet. And Two days ago he went off in the living room shouting “Trump is the best president ever!” He explains with a tear coming to his eye.
When I hear this and my heart drops. I can’t imagine what he is going through. Life is too short to not be able to be yourself.
I know what I needed to do. He was walking out for a cause. To stand up for himself. I knew he was a good kid. By his mannerisms and the work he was able to produce. The truth is I have no idea what he’s going though in his life. I can only emphasize. So I did what I knew had to be done.
“Go for it. Get out of here.” I say, and close the door and get back to class.
And I don’t call the office.