NPHS Stage a Student Walkout in Protest over Principal’s Firing
January 25, 2018
Contributed by Emily McMichael and Tyler Reed
Out of fury and anger, New Plymouth High School students rallied in a peaceful protest outside of the district office on Wednesday, January 17th during third hour in hopes to gain answers as to why their Principal, Clete Edmunson, was allegedly forced to resign Tuesday afternoon.
Tuesday night, January 16, 2018, the news spread like a wildfire, Clete Edmunson had resigned at the end of the teacher inservice work day. In under an hour the students of the high school started stating their opinions over social media and started asking questions. An article had been quickly published by Idaho Ed News and the Argus Observer, neither of which gave any specific details as to why this happened. Senior Kenzie White sent an email to fellow students and started organizing a protest to get the attention of superintendent Kevin Barker and the school board to show that this decision adversely affects the students and their education.
“I say what do we want? And you say Answers! I’ll say when do we want them? And you say NOW!” Derek Odgers shouted at the group of boycotting students from the top of the district office steps. “What do we want?” he shouted. “Answers!” students angrily yelled back. “And when do we want them?” he shouted again. “NOW!” they screamed back. This is not where the protest chants stopped. Students chanted “Bring him back!” repeatedly, as well as “Edmunson!” for a while.
Students interviewed during the protest were asked what they thought about Edmunson being forced to resign, a fact that surfaced earlier that morning when the Idaho Statesman reported that Edmunson had rescinded his letter of resignation citing signing under duress. Many students were upset at the forced resignation and stated that this really affects their education. Aubree Aldrich stated, “Edmunson was willing to help me and he actually understood me.”
Not only are the students confused, so is the entire New Plymouth community as the rumor mill is ripe with confusion, fake facts, and lack of real details. This protest and administrative conduct had even caught the attention of Fox 9 News and Channel 6 News stations. Those news stations sent reporters to film the protest and interview the protestors. Kenzie White and Aidrie Voile, were given the opportunity to speak to the reporters about why they were protesting their anger and the lack of answers to their questions from Barker.
As the crowd gathered on the lawn of the district office, they drew other people into their cause. Pastor Phil Pittman of the First Baptist Church across the street and stated “I came out to support the students. I appreciate the support of the students for their teachers and staff, Mr. Edmunson in particular. They are right for protesting because we need answers.” Pastor Phil Pittman showed his support through this rally for the students.
When the boycott crowd finally retired from their stand on the lawn of the district office, they decided to storm the halls of their high school. Once the bell rang ending the third period hour, the crowd shouted “This is for Edmunson!” and continued parading down the hallways singing the New Plymouth fight song. This act brought students out of their classrooms to film it, posting the clips to their social media later that day.
After this act of protest, Kenzie White reminded her peers that the school board would have a meeting at six that evening and she wanted the school plus the community to be there in support of their principal again, while hopefully gaining some answers. “If we can get everyone here to show up, we can actually make a difference.” Kenzie White said in reference to the school board meeting later that night.