Students used their voices, adapting the traditional five H.A.W.K.S. banners at the homecoming pep rally to express their frustrations.
As the banners hung above the entrance of the gym, students, faculty, and parents watched senior Kat Santos explain what H.A.W.K.S. really stands for.
After student-athletes marched into the gym and all five grades sat crammed into the auditorium bleachers, Santos was called to the floor with a plea to administration.
Beginning her speech with the Nelson Mandela quote, “Education is the most powerful tool which you can use to change the world,” Santos directed all in the Hudson High community to consider what H.A.W.K.S. means to much of the student body.
“‘H’ is for Hudson hawk,” Santos read, “It is the symbol that brings us all together as a school community, and on that same banner we defined what P.R.I.D.E. means to us.”
She continued to explain what P.R.I.D.E. means to the student body. Earlier this year, HHS adopted P.R.I.D.E to mean “Persevering Relentlessly Through Diverse Environments.” Students redefined the acronym to mean Potential, Relationships, Individuality, Determination, and Equity.
“What we are doing is using our potential: to form deeper relationships in our community, to value individuality through determination and equity,” said Santos.
The “A” banner, typically representing the junior class, addressed the administration’s perceived misunderstanding of the students’ 90% approval of implementing the ARC program based on the pilot. “Not having ARC right now is a missed opportunity for us. It made us a stronger community and provided all of us with a chance to breathe during the school day.”
Many students agreed with the sentiment.
“I don’t have X-Block. I’m not in Honors or AP classes, and still, I struggle,” senior Spirit Committee member Sinead Resendes said, “ARC really helped me because it gave me time to meet with my teachers.”
After speaking of ARC, Santos continued to explain the letters “W” and “K.”
“W” represented the issues students are facing with the recent cancelation of world travel programs like Peru and Sao Tome, trips that current juniors and seniors had anticipated with excitement, now unavailable.
“K” represented the students’ craving for knowledge, in which there is the desire to push themselves to exceed their abilities.
Santos explained every letter to the riveted student body.
“Finally, ‘S’ symbolizes stress,” Santos bellowed, “Many students are feeling the impacts of these different changes, and we want our voices heard. We want to take this time to show our community what is important to us. We, as students, need to come together as one and show our school what matters to us. Change is possible; we can be that change.”
The students rallied in support, chanting, “Be the Change!” followed by cheers and applause.
“Kat hit the nail on the head,” Resendes said, “She was a great person to do the speech. She was really into it and she wrote the speech.”
The protest emerged two weeks ago by junior and senior members of the spirit committee who found that issues within the school, such as having no class advisors at the time, an unclear plan for a homecoming dance and not having ARC gave students the motivation needed to speak up.
“Originally the students came up with the visual and then they came up with the speech,” said teacher and Spirit Committee advisor Ariana Ciesulk.
The movement resonated within the student body.
“A couple of kids from Ms. Murray’s class brought up an idea about standing up for what we wanted,” sophomore Samantha Santana, a participant in the protest, explained, “Students need to take action.”
It is the passion students have for the school that is inspiring them.
“We all care about these things, so students needed to rise up and be the change,” Santana said.
At press time, a response to students and parents from Principal Jason Medeiros was pending. This story will continue to develop and be updated.
Ciesluk further expressed that though highlighting certain issues can potentially upset people because it is uncomfortable, positives can come from this.
“Anytime people are given the opportunity to express how they feel, it gives others a chance to listen, communicate and grow from there. For all the adults to see how much students do care is a powerful thing and hopefully, it propels all together to do the right thing for our community.”
At this point, students just want to be heard.
“It’s time for the administration to start opening their ears and putting the best interest of the students first,” junior Erika Ashman said.