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High School Students Stage Walkouts, Protesting President-Elect Donald Trump

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Guest post by Julie Depenbrock

Silver Spring, Md.

Students in several states have staged walkouts in the days since the election to protest President-elect Donald Trump, including in Maryland today, where hundreds of students blocked traffic in Montgomery County, a few miles from the nation's capital. 

Students gathered at Montgomery Blair High School, then took their protest onto major commuter roads near campus.

They picked up more students from Northwood and Albert Einstein High Schools along the way, marching toward a downtown area several miles away. Several students indicated they intended to continue on to Washington. 

Fatima Hernandez and Jennifer Rodriguez, sophomores at Blair, joined the protest because they are worried about the effect a Donald Trump presidency will have on the immigrant community.

"Coming from immigrant parents, this is a very strong topic for me, and for her," Rodriguez said.

"We're not worried about what he's going to do to us. More like, now he's president and people actually voted for him, it's setting an example and people are going to start thinking it's okay...to do the things that he does," Hernandez added. "But it's not okay."

Several incidents of intimidation and vandalism have been reported in the Maryland suburb since Trump's victory last week. Members of an Episcopal Church near the high school reported that a sign advertising a Spanish-language service was defaced with the words: "Trump Nation. Whites Only."

Close to a third of Blair's 2,800 students walked out before lunch, the Washington Post reported. About 26 percent of the student population is black and 32 percent Hispanic, according to the 2015-2016 report given to the Maryland Department of Education. 

Some students remained on campus for the protest while others moved to the streets.

Marching along a blocked-off roadway, the students drew honks and cheers from passing cars. One woman even brought out bottled water for Rodriguez and Hernandez, who had been walking for nearly six miles. 

"It's beautiful how much support we get," Rodriguez said. "They're always like 'oh us teenagers, you know, we can't do nothing.' But yes we can. Together we can."

At first, the administration at Blair seemed to support the walkout. "They even made an announcement that we could go," Hernandez said.

But now, there's talk of suspensions for students who left campus on the school day. Requests for comment from Blair Principal Renay Johnson were not returned. 

The protest was organized on social media--shared on Instagram and Facebook with students at area high schools. 

Some at Wilson High School in the District of Columbia have planned a similar protest for Tuesday. Protesters will take Metro transit to Pennsylvania Avenue and stand hand-in-hand before the newly-constructed Trump Hotel, according to their social media campaign.

"While we defend all students' right to self-expression and peaceful protest, please know that this is not a school-sponsored (or DCPS sponsored) event. School or district administrators were not involved in or consulted with during the planning of this event and students are expected to be in school throughout the day," Wilson Principal Kimberly Martin wrote on the school website. "Any student who leaves will receive an unexcused absence for periods they miss."

Walkouts are happening in major cities all over the country, from Los Angeles and Seattle to Boulder, Des Moines, and New York. 

Photo: Jennifer Rodriguez (left) and Fatima Hernandez (right) joined their classmates in a walkout Monday, protesting the election of Donald Trump. (Julie Depenbrock)

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