Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



INDEPENDENT PHOTO: TYLER FRANCKE - A student participating in Wednesday morning's walkout holds a sign that says '#BridgesNotWalls.'Students at Woodburn High School staged a walkout Wednesday morning in support of similar student-led events held at schools across the Portland metro area the previous week.

The walkouts were sparked by a banner hung briefly in the cafeteria of Forest Grove High School on May 18 by a fellow student, which appeared to support presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The banner read “BUILD A WALL” and was quickly taken down by school staff.TYLER FRANCKE - Students gather at the gazebo in the Downtown Plaza midway through Wednesday's march.

Students at high schools in Hillsboro, Sherwood, Tualatin, Tigard and a number of others joined their Forest Grove counterparts in peaceful demonstrations last week. The walkout at Woodburn High School — where the student body is over 80 percent Latino — was the latest.

The group, estimated at well over 100 students, walked out of the school at approximately 9:30 a.m., waving American and Mexican flags, chanting and carrying signs that carried slogans like “#BridgesNotWalls” and “Judge a person by their actions, not their accents.”

The group marched down Front Street and through downtown Woodburn, gathering at the Plaza for a brief rally in which several students spoke from the gazebo using a megaphone. The students then proceeded to the district office on Boones Ferry Road, where they spoke with Superintendent Chuck Ransom, before returning to Woodburn High School to stage a sit-in.

“We want to recognize that the sign hung in Forest Grove was not an isolated incident,” one of the student organizers, Marisol Ceballos, said in an email. “Many students within our own student body, which is overwhelmingly Latino, have experienced similar incidents of discrimination, even within our own community.”

In response to these issues, the students made several “demands” of the Woodburn School District: that it carry ethnic studies courses or classes that extensively cover issues like immigration and racism; that it sponsor cultural sensitivity training for members of the school board, administration, faculty and staff; that the make-up of the board and district staff would more closely reflect the demographic of the student body; and that ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses be offered at all Woodburn High School small schools. (Currently, ESOL courses are available only at the Academy of International Studies.)

Reached after the demonstration, Ransom said the district policy would be to treat the students who participated in the walkout as unexcused absences.

“Any student who was not in class yesterday will be marked absent and that absence will be reported to parents,” Ransom said. “It does not matter for what reason (walkout, doctor's appointment, stayed home sick, skipped school, whatever), if you are not where you are supposed to be you will be marked absent.”

He also said the students will be expected to make up the lessons and assignments that they missed.

Tyler Francke covers all things Woodburn. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-765-1195.TYLER FRANCKE - More than 100 Woodburn High School students participated in a walkout Wednesday morning.

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