North Rowan High students hold brief walkout

Published 8:00 pm Friday, February 11, 2022

SPENCER – North Rowan High School students held a protest on their school campus Friday morning.

About 200 students walked out in front of the school’s main entrance, some with signs, and stayed there for about 10 minutes before filtering back inside. School and district staff were on site for the walkout and told a Post reporter to remain off the campus.

Ella Jones, a sophomore at North and one of the protest organizers, said it was fueled by conversations among students that the school has started to go downhill.

“We don’t have a principal advocating for us at the moment,” Jones said.

Meredith Williams stepped down as principal at North on Dec. 31 to take another job.

Jones said teachers have left recently, too. There also have been student behavior issues. Jones said she respects interim principal Sheila Gorham, but students want a permanent principal.

North has the lowest student population of all high schools in Rowan-Salisbury Schools, with the exception of Rowan County Early College and the alternative program at Henderson Independent School.

Jones pointed to the low number of teachers in any given subject matter as an example of an ever-present issue. If a teacher leaves, there may not be someone who can step in and provide instruction in the same subject.

Teachers and administration found out the students were planning a walkout this week. Jones said she was told a student-run protest would be a safety issue.

Jones contacted the organizers behind Man Up Monday, a longtime program in the school district, to help deescalate any issues during the protest. Rick Towell, the district’s safety and risk manager, was also on site on Friday.

Jones said she hopes the walkout can serve as a starting point for conversations with officials.

“I’m not sure that will come of it, but that was really our end goal,” Jones said.

Jones said the walkout became associated with her after she made a flyer about it, though she did not intend for it to be her protest and about a dozen students helped pull it together.

She hadn’t received a response from the district on Friday.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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