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Planned walkout at Tucson High turns into open discussion

Published: Nov. 10, 2016 at 8:07 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 11:16 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Dozens of students at Tucson High Magnet School missed part of class Thursday, Nov. 10, and members of the administration said they're proud.

What started as a planned student walkout turned into an honest discussion about politics, fear, immigration and government in action.

"I was about to walk out, but I wanted to learn first and then walk out," said Tucson High senior Pablo Soto. "It's disappointing to see a lot of kids just scared. I feel happy because they did all of this to let their voice be heard. People are going to come together and create a bigger voice. Trump is going to hear us."

The school's teachers and administration were happy it turned out the way it did.

"I think it's great," said Brian Mock, a government and economics teacher at Tucson High. "These kids, this demographic, they could be affected by this. This is what we want to see this kind of dialogue starting where students are coming together even though they're outside of class they're learning about the perspectives of each other.

"I'm very proud. As a government teacher, this is what we want students to be doing."

[READ MORE: Trump denounced in protests across US]

The event in Tucson stands in stark contrast to incidents at schools across the country. Like in Phoenix, where for the second straight day dozens of high school students walked out of class to protest the election of Donald Trump.

The walkout in Tucson, planned via SnapChat, didn't happen not because the administration stopped the students, but because they redirected them.

Worried a walkout could be dangerous, Principal Shawna Rodriguez asked the students to gather for an open mic forum in the auditorium.

"Considering what's currently taking place, nationwide and in the media, we definitely felt it was a valid plan that our students were trying to orchestrate," Rodriguez said. "(We) wanted students to voice their concerns in a safe way."

At least 60 students attended and a majority who showed up are not old enough to vote.

"I'm upset that I have friends and family that are generally scared," said 17-year-old Tucson High senior Ariella Chanes. "My little brother he came home talking to our mom saying 'I have friends at school who are crying because they (think) they have to go back to Mexico.' To me this Is a lot better than a walkout. It's more productive.

"We are under 18, a lot of us are, but we do care. We do care about our country."

Many voiced their concerns, scared about immigration policy and what Trump could ultimately do.

"I'm Mexican and I don't have papers so it's hard for me to be here," said an unidentified student. "Because a lot of people tell me that 'you're not supposed to be here because you're Mexican.'

"All the things that he (Donald Trump) said, it does hurt people where he meant it or not. It hurts a lot."

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.