This morning, Roosevelt and Nathan Hale’s class presidents (Seniors Jessamyn Reichmann-Young and Eli Konsker respectively) joined forces to create a student-led event in solidarity with the current teacher strikes. Held at the University of Washington’s Red Square, the event asked participating students to bring a book or something to work on and have a “Read In” to support their teachers’ cause. According to Konsker, he got the idea of the Read In when he overheard a conversation on the picket lines: “During the picketing on Tuesday, we were walking around and one of the teachers talked about [doing a Read In] with the teachers, but they all just shrugged it off. Why can’t I do that with a bunch of students instead?”
Despite the concept originating with teachers, the Read In was created, planned, and organized entirely by students. “[The teachers] actually have no idea I did this,” admitted Konsker. Social media assisted the two leaders in getting the word out to their peers, making pulling off such an event as simple as pressing “Invite friends” on Facebook.
Students turned out from schools such as Franklin, Roosevelt, Nathan Hale, and Ingraham. Books in hand, they spread through the square wearing red to show affiliation with the teachers’ movement.
“Since teachers are doing practically everything striking,” said Reichmann-Young, “I think we really need to support them, and bring attention to the fact that this isn’t just a strike.”
She continued, “This is our way of supporting our teachers, and I’m hoping somehow we push the movement just a little bit forward.”
In terms of her goals for the Read In and beyond, Reichmann-Young responded, “Get school started, get things rocking and rolling, and get the teachers the change that they need.”
Both organizers seemed pleased with the dedication shown by their peers in getting involved with the demonstration. “I think it’s really nice because we’re kind of giving students that light of fire under their feet to get them motivated to not only make little changes around the community, but to focus on bigger issues,” said Reichmann-Young. “I want to inspire people to go out, step out of their comfort zone, and change this world for the better.”
“That’s my thing,” she said with a grin.
Featured Photo: Participants of the “Read In” cluster in Red Square as they delve into their readings. Photo by Karinna Gerhardt