We Are the Change


Annalyse McBride, Co-Editor/Sports Editor

It is more apparent than ever that the Holyoke High School community of students has each other’s backs.  Last week an incident occurred at the high school involving a very serious topic that can’t be touched on right now as an ongoing police investigation is still underway . Students were notified of the incident in school a week after it happened when something should have been said earlier to reassure the safety of the students who come to this school to learn. There is no reason why we as students should have had to find out about this event through the local media before anyone in a position of authority at the school spoke about it.

This incident sparked an outcry from not only the students that attend the school but members of the community as well.  One former student has taken it upon herself to be the change in her community. In an interview done with the at Western Mass News, Elizabeth Bonilla-Fontanez said “Don’t tiptoe around a topic that should be screamed from the rooftops. Together we can provide a voice to those who have felt like they needed to remain silent”.  She organized a protest early Friday morning across the street from the school to show her solidarity with the victim(s).

Along with this protest students at the school have planned a protest of their own. Yesterday many students took it upon themselves to make signs to prepare for the protest they plan to have today. At the start of the fourth period, today students will be gathering, grabbing their signs, and walking around the school with them before exiting out of the front doors to continue the protest. Admin is already well aware of the event and made a statement yesterday afternoon that if students choose to not be in their class it will count as an unexcused absence and class will carry on as usual. Due to this many athletes are being held back from participating in the protest because of school rules. If an athlete misses a class or has an unexcused absence they cannot participate in their sport that day which can lead to more serious consequences like removal from the team. Some students are viewing this as the school’s way of silencing them.

In Section 82 of the Massachusetts general laws, it states “The right of students to freedom of expression in the public schools of the commonwealth shall not be abridged, provided that such right shall not cause any disruption or disorder within the school.” The protest being planned by students is planned to be a peaceful protest to create and show unity in a school environment that needs it more than ever but a different section of this law is the loophole that the admin is using to go against this act of solidarity. “Any assembly planned by students during regularly scheduled school hours shall be held only at a time and place approved in advance by the school principal or his designee.” This line can be seen as the main reason why no one who has the power to change something is. With a simple “okay” from admin, many students in the community would feel heard and seen but administrators refuse to budge.

As a member of the community here at Holyoke High school I am disappointed that we’ve let things like this happen in a place where we are supposed to be safe but I am proud to say I go to a school with students who are strong enough to stand up for what they believe in and create a change. We are the change.


Here are some ways you can be an ally:

Make posters and signs

Send emails to our principal voicing your concerns lmckenna@hps.holyoke.ma.us

Educate yourself on what is happening in your community

Send an email to the superintendent of schools in the city asoto@hps.holyoke.ma.us