Walk out for Wattawa – Students protest at Williams Field High School

Photographs by Brielle Christianson and Emogene Mazur

Students at Williams Field High School staged a walk-out Sept.3 to protest their principal being put on “administrative leave” without any disclosed information as to why.

Students and parents wanted information as to why Dr. Terri Wattawa was suddenly absent from campus. Social media pages and online petitions were created by the parents and students of Williams Field in an attempt to “save” their beloved principal.

At 9:30 a.m. the halls of the high school, 2076 S. Higley Road in Gilbert, were buzzing with rumors about the “Walk Out for Wattawa.” When the bell had finally rung announcing the beginning of third hour, many students filed out of the school halls and into “The Nest,” a gathering place in the quad in the middle of campus.

Within minutes, The Nest was packed with protesters. Senior Gerard Mulqueen’s voice boomed over the crowd, “Everyone sit down, we are peacefully protesting.”

By 9:48 a.m., the protest was still going on with students sitting down in The Nest and talking. Gerard said, “District office has seen this and they know what we want, and I’ve been told that they will take our attendance and mark us absent if we don’t go to fourth hour.”

Many underclassmen had no idea why they were protesting; they just went with the flow and listened to upperclassmen. Those who knew what was going on felt strongly about the protest and stayed out in the heat in support.

Many students chanted “Wattawa,” and made a “W” with their hands.

Teachers had been instructed to not stop students from protesting, but simply mark them absent from class. This did not sit well with the student body but they held their ground.

Students had been trying to get news stations to come out and report on the protest.  At 11:02 a.m., a news helicopter showed up to cover footage of the protest as well as two news stations, ABC15 and Channel 3.

Although the news stations had not been allowed on campus, reporters parked across the street at the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Students flooded out of the campus gates and into the parking lot of the church to express their opinions. The protests finally came to an end by 11:30 a.m.

As of this writing, the protest is planned to continue this evening at 5:30 at the Higley Unified School District office, 2935 S. Recker Road in Gilbert.

Editor’s note: Alex Dean and Kianna Brandt are student reporters; Brielle Christianson is a student photographer for News for the Nation, Williams Field High School’s online news source; and Emogene Mazur is a contributing student photographer.

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