Students prepare for walkout on Metro construction

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Ava Seccuro staff writer

Alya Mehrtash staff writer

A district-wide walkout will be taking place on Friday, Oct. 12 at 10:30 a.m at Will Rogers Park in protest of the Metro Purple Line Extension project that will be going under the high school. Students will be busing to the park from their respective schools.

Student Board Member senior Sean Toobi and ASB Head Row President senior Ryan Abrishami, the primary student organizers of this walkout, have been working with the district to plan the logistics for the event and to obtain buses for students to get to and from their schools and the park.

According to Toobi, the walkout is the most effective way of raising awareness and gaining the attention of the federal government. Additionally, it will try to encourage change to occur on Metro’s part, regarding the placement of the Metro.

“After discovering the health and safety risks that our students and staff will face, [Ryan and I] found it vital to not only inform the community but also come together in protest [of the Metro],” Toobi said.

Some students and parents are considering the repercussions of staying in the district during the construction of the purple line extension, such as alleged cancer risk increases and disruptive background noise from the staging area. Despite the fact that the severity of these risks are not yet confirmed by both parties, some parents are looking into other schooling options for their children because of the possibility of them.

“Already, I am seeing many of my friends looking for a new school in the case that the metro is built under Beverly,” sophomore Nahal Sarafian said. “So many students and parents are worried that students will not be in a healthy and safe learning environment [because of] the conditions that the metro [construction] would cause.”

Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy believes that these conditions could be avoided, in order to preserve the safety of students and staff.

“We are aware of at least four alternative alignments that could work instead of the one impacting our only high school,” Bregy said. “It’s appalling and does not make any sense AT ALL to place two subway tunnels below a high school campus.”

The walkout is also an opportunity for community members to voice their opinions on Metro’s project. In a recent survey filled out by 112 students, 83 percent were against the construction of the metro under campus. Some students see the walkout as a platform to express their opinions regarding Metro’s construction.

“The walkout will bring our community together in a way that has never been done before,” Sarafian said. “Everyone will have the opportunity to speak out about something that they feel so strongly about. Everyone will feel that they have a voice in this issue, and all together, our community will hopefully be heard.”

There are also students who are for Metro’s Purple Line Extension under campus. 17 percent of the students surveyed support construction of the Metro for different reasons including financial benefits, the greater good of the people of Los Angeles, and the benefits of expansion of public transportation.

“Although there are health risks and [construction] will be disruptive, this will be beneficial to the city in future years,” freshman Clement Murphy said. “The Metro is going to build regardless. Essentially the walkout is a waste of time in my opinion.”

While the majority of students surveyed are against the construction of the Metro underneath campus, 39.3 percent will not be attending the walkout, and 17.9 percent are still unsure. Some of these students voiced their concerns with what the walkout stood for, or how it was planned.

I think the march was poorly coordinated with administration,” senior Estella Rosen said. “This is taking place when we are already missing instructional time this week for College/PSAT day. I understand there was a push for this to be student-led but that shouldn’t come at the expense of informing teachers who have to completely rearrange their schedules. It shows a lack of respect for our teachers who work really hard to support us. I also believe that publicizing that a bunch of our students will be walking could be a potential safety hazard.”

Students like Toobi and Abrishami have been collaborating to move Metro’s new line extension from under campus and the walkout is a prime example of actions they are taking to achieve that goal. Toobi hopes, however, that more community members participate in what he sees as a unified effort to stop the project.

“This walkout is only the beginning. We hope to achieve increasing involvement from all members of our school district and community,” Toobi said. “Our goals are possible. We just need a united community on a common goal: safeguarding health, safety and education.”

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