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“If anyone was using this protest for Instagram clout or just so they could skip class, shame on you.” said Alina Rashid.

       At the walkout in mid-February, students stopped and observed the crowd of peers with their phones out, taking videos of the closed main door, what they interpreted as the administration’s effort to stop students from participating in the walkout. The disgruntled students slowly walked away from the crowd to get to their classes, mumbling to their friends about joining the walkout to skip their upcoming class.

       The walkout was organized through Twitter by a group of students who were angered by how Principal DiBari addressed school problems during a zoom meeting. Once the news reached school the next morning, it seemed as if everybody knew. After second period on the week of Valentine’s Day, an estimated two hundred students exited the building to protest on the blacktop. However, some students tried to exit through the front doors, unaware that they are locked during school hours for safety reasons. 

      Students soon revealed other reasons were also stated as causes of the walkout, such as the vaping in the C-hall bathroom and the sexual harassment that happened earlier this year. Some students attended the walkout for personal gains, such as skipping a Spanish presentation or a history quiz. 

      “They’re using people’s trauma for their own personal gain, and that’s honestly so low,” said Alina Rashid. “If anyone was using this protest for Instagram clout or just so they could skip class, shame on you.”

       Students have opined that self-centered reasons like skipping class gave school officials the wrong impression of the walkout. That the walkout was nothing more than high school students complaining they can’t have DoorDash delivered to the school. 

       “I heard from multiple people that there were students that were playing music and being extremely disrespectful while others were trying to speak,” said Alina Rashid, 9.

       Despite a majority of students coming to support worthless causes like ordering fast food to the school, many people wonder what the main point of the walkout was.

       “I feel like it was a big jumble of reasons, there was no clear one,” explained Rashid. “Some students were there just for DoorDash, while others were there for more serious issues. It seemed like they really hadn’t collectively decided on anything, and as a result, nothing really got accomplished in the end.”

       Some students attended to criticize how Principal DiBari handled questions about sexual harassment at school. 

      “I pride myself in being accessible to students and staff and I always respond to questions and concerns, which is why I attended the walkout and answered everybody’s questions,” explained Tony DiBari, Principal, regarding the issue of sexual assaults’. “Students have expressed frustration because they are not told the specifics of what occurs in certain events, as well as who committed them and what their punishment was; however, there is policy and law in place that forbids school officials from sharing specific discipline for individuals to the general public.”

       In response to the charges, teachers and staff have clarified that Principle DiBari wasn’t answering questions about the sexual harassment incidents at school due to laws in place. Virginia Law classifies details of sexual assault and harassment cases involving minors from the public. 

      “School employees or administrators will not comment on situations that are currently pending or involving student’s personal information,” explained Xiara Davis, assistant principal.

      “The only people who get this information are those that were directly affected by an incident. However, I can continue to share Westfield and FCPS policy regarding types of behaviors, and assure people that we follow in line with what the county, state, and even federal law dictate to us,” explained DiBari. “I will reiterate that engaging in activities considered sexual harassment and assault is unacceptable and is taken very seriously by me, the administrative team, and the staff here at Westfield. These types of actions have consequences up to and including a referral to the hearings office to have students removed from Westfield.”

      Each Fairfax County student receives one excused absence for the day if they choose to participate in a walkout. However, a parent must report to the school that their child will be absent from classes. 

      Many students have noticed that in the days following the walkout, they have had to do activities in SEL focused on improving the school. However, many students still feel as if their beliefs on issues at the school are being ignored.

       “I haven’t really seen any changes put into action, but maybe there’s something planned for the future,” says Rashid. 

       This has made some students upset. They feel like there should have been more prepared going into the walkout. Many wish they would have done it after the weekend so the plan could reach more people. Others think that if they waited until Monday, students could review the options and choose more wisely on whether or not to attend. 

      “They could have been more patient, but you can’t really be patient if you want change,” said Bhavya Gurumoorthy, 9. 

      All in all, the voices of Doordash and Uber Eats advocates appear to have outshined those of students who attended to make a long-lasting, meaningful change at Westfield.

      “My heart goes out to those who went because they honestly intended to make a change. We should all learn a thing or two from them,” implored Rashid.