Walkout wages war with Metro

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Mikaela Rabizadeh media editor

Alya Mehrtash staff writer

In opposition to Metro’s purple line extension, which is anticipated to tunnel under BHHS, students organized a district-wide walkout in Will Rogers Memorial Park on Friday, Oct. 12.  Spearheaded by ASB President Ryan Abrishami and Student Board Member Sean Toobi, the walk-out intended to appeal to the federal government, essentially calling onto the Trump administration to help divert Metro construction from Beverly’s campus.  A conglomerate of community members, teachers, parents and students from all five BHUSD schools were in attendance.

Sam Bernstein managing editor

1500 walkout against Purple Line

Students from all five BHUSD schools participated in an optional “walk-out” to protest the extension of the purple line under the BHHS campus and Metro’s construction under Beverly’s campus. Protestors bussed from all five campuses to Will Rogers Memorial Park at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 12 to participate in student-led anti-Metro chants as well as listen to students’ speeches explaining their stance on construction. FOX11 reported that about 1500 people, including students, teachers, parents and other concerned community members attended the walkout. Just under 300 high school students attended the protests.

These protests, which were supported by the administration, were immediately met with criticism from the local media, most notably from the Los Angeles Times editorial board in an editorial posted on the morning of the event, titled “Seriously, Beverly Hills? Cut your Purple Line hysteria, already.”

“This ‘walkout’ is a charade. It’s teaching students that evidence doesn’t matter and that fear is more potent than facts. There’s nothing educational about that,” the editorial read.

This article, as well as other criticisms on Twitter, were instantly met with opposition from students.

“I understand that there are schools around the nation that do have subways under their school, and I do understand that there are subways near oil wells around LA as well,” Student Action Coalition (SAC) member senior Brian Yoon said. “All of the oil wells in our school are unmapped. The Metro cannot be 100 percent sure that they will not be hitting the 70 oil wells that are located beneath our school’s floors.¹

Parents, alongside students, stood in solidarity against the Metro. Some voiced their concerns regarding health risks and claimed they are considering sending their children to different schools.

“I voted for the Metro originally, and I want the Metro. I believe in public transportation,  and its helpful for our residents and surrounding residents. However, I feel that it’s not okay to [have the Metro go under the high school] at the risk of our students and the children of our city. By tunneling under a school that already has issues with oil wells and methane gas, it’s posing an extra risk for our kids and that is unacceptable, and we will fight to do the right thing,” parent Debby Sayah said.

As well as showing a united front against the Metro going under Beverly, one of the main goals from protestors was to get U.S. President Donald Trump and transportation secretary Elaine Chao involved. There were several signs reading “President Trump, Save Our Students!,” and speakers called on Trump to step in. Some students were on board with getting the president’s attention, including sophomore Leigh Wooster.

“I’m not a conservative, but I feel like we need to get Trump’s attention. He thinks that California is a very liberal state and we need to change his opinion,” Wooster said. “He can make a difference at our school.”

Some disagreed with the notion that president Trump needed to get involved, including senior Tyra Mai.

“I thought that [calling on Trump] was a distraction and it took away from the walkout’s intentions,” Mai said. “[The walkout] wasn’t about taking a side or being political, we were supposed to focus on the safety of the students.”

The main theme on the bus ride back to the high school was a positive one. Students were generally proud of their efforts to stop the Metro’s construction under the high school.

“A lot of people were very proud to speak up today,” Frye said. “I felt like today I was really part of a community that is brave and unafraid.”

¹ These claims have been challenged by the Metro. You can read about their findings here.

Catherine Gagulashvili copy editor

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