East students walk out of school, protesting staff transfers


Emily Boyle ('23)

An East student holds up a sign protesting the plans to transfer nine East teachers.

East students organized a school walkout, protesting the 9 forced teacher transfers, at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, April 29. The demonstration garnered participation from hundreds of students, and media attention from outlets such as Fox 29, ABC 6, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Courier Post.

Lasting until 12:20, students met on the turf field and walked around the left side of the building. Due to barricades shielding students from the press, they then walked down the back of the school and to the right-most side.

Many student leaders gave speeches as the crowd gathered, including Devyn Levin (‘22), Christopher Shin (‘23), Aiden Rood (‘23), Tim Ackerman (‘22), and Youbin Park (‘22).

Student leaders gave speeches during the walkout, including Devyn Levin (‘22), Christopher Shin (‘23), Aiden Rood (‘23), Tim Ackerman (‘22), and Youbin Park (‘22). (Emily Boyle (’23))

“Without [our teachers], East will fall down in spirit, community, and academics– everything you can imagine,” said Shin, newly elected student body president.

“I saw our community hurting. I saw our classmates tears,” said Rood, a ‘22-’23 board of education student representative, in reference to the BOE meeting last Tuesday. There, students voiced their concerns about the transfers, with some getting emotional.

The crowd, packed shoulder to shoulder, stretched from the turf, through the back parking lot, and down the side of East’s building. As they marched, students shouted chants such as “We love Rosey!” and “Free Mis Nic!”, in reference to Mr. Tom Rosenberg and Mrs. Susan Dollarton, two teachers being forcibly transferred. Many carried home-made signs, displaying phrases such as “This is Our Education”, “I Stand With My Teachers”, and “Keep the 9”.

A variety of students from all grades were in attendance. One overarching concern was lack of communication.

“I feel like it’s unjust…for our teachers to have to move to completely different schools without their consent,” said Ryn Kelly (‘24). “The board has not given us any reason as to why they’re transferring all these teachers”.

Others felt strongly about preserving the relationships they forged with East staff.

“I love all of these teachers, and they should not be moved from us,” said Holly Cowan (‘22), holding up a poster with the words, “Save Our School!”.

Teachers could be seen watching through open doors, first-floor windows, and second-floor windows, with many wearing red shirts in solidarity to their union. A news helicopter flew over the tightly packed mass of students, which continued to generate more energy.

As the crowd turned corners, many could be seen cutting under fences or crawling up the sides of hills, as there wasn’t enough space to stand in an orderly fashion. Some began throwing water bottles, crumpled wads of paper, and footballs. One student even climbed onto the roof of East’s building, cheering on the excited crowd.

Upwards of 1800 students participated in the walkout. (Emily Boyle (’23))

As the majority of students were ushered inside, student organizers moved to the front of the building to talk to the press. According to them, the walkout went better than expected, with a higher turn-out than initially anticipated.

“I think this was probably the most successful protest that I’ve ever seen,” said student body vice president Crystal Yeh (‘22). “Everyone was out there… That just shows that student voice was important for everyone”.

According to Shin, teachers were notified about the walkout in advance, and disciplinary measures for missing class are unlikely.

As of now, the administration has not issued a statement in response to the protest.