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As of May 18, 2017, The Board of Portland Public Schools passed a bond measure of $790 million to reconstruct schools within its district. Portland Public Schools host some of the oldest standing buildings in Portland, Oregon. My Alma Mater, Lincoln High School, was founded in 1869. Making it the oldest building in the district. Portland Public Schools is a mess. All high schools, Middle Schools, and Elementary schools within the district have lead in their pipes, cutting off access to all water fountains. There is moss is the ventilation pipes,  and the ceiling tiles are constantly falling endangering the safety of students. Not to mention the spacing issues, not enough  classrooms for teachers, rooms with no windows, and classroom size is always an issue, as two or three classes are hosted 5 blocks away inside of a church. Lincoln High School’s cafeteria fit around 85 students at most. That means on a rainy day (it rains a lot in Portland, Oregon) students sat on the floor filling the halls from end to end. Lincoln High School is 205% over capacity. I am a part of a club called Brothers of Color, and we would always crowd into one of the counselor’s office at lunch because there was no space for the boys of color to have space with each other.

On the morning of September 7, 2016, Lincoln High School walked out of class to protest for the rebuilding of Portland Public Schools. Led by class presidents Marin Christensen and Michael Ioffe, hundreds of students marched through downtown, to PPS offices, and to Benson High School in an attempt to get them to join. The Principal of Benson decided to put an emergency lock down on the school. A lock down is initiated in the event of an evident threat. A threat, that means the adults of the building were scared of the power the students had in this moment. This is a time where students show their true potential to be a force for change, this should be an alarm for students that we do have the power to give our influence.

There have been multiple notable walk-outs throughout history. The Chicano Blowouts of East L.A., the sit-ins from students of North Carolina A&T, or the 250,000 student walk-out in Chicago of 1963. Students are the force of modernization, and the source of new ideas. Students know best how to use current media, we also know best what the current trends are. These are two tools that the older people who run the U.S. are not aware of, that is an advantage. Students are taught from Kindergarten to be obedient, and their personality and understanding of the world are often determined by the type of curriculum in your area. However, by the time High School rolls around, more specifically upper-classmen, the world is beginning to open up for your consumption. Analyze and form an opinion about everything, educate yourself on as many topics as possible. If there is an issue going on in your area that you want to take action against, chances are there are hundreds who agree with you. Power comes with numbers.

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Ricky Cruz
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