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Letter to the Editor: A Declaration of Independent Thought

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Letter to the Editor: A Declaration of Independent Thought

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I would like to preface this opinionated editorial with a personal declaration of gratitude for my Archer sisters and the faculty and administration, who supported and protected us today. The following editorial refers to administration in general, and I acknowledge that this is a generalization and that there were members of administration who stood alongside us in sharing our message. I am grateful for their participation.


When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the administrations, who have hindered and restricted the rights to which they are entitled, a decent respect to the opinions and well being of humanity requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to advocate for these rights.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all of humanity is endowed by their governments and institutions with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life (thousands of kids dead, their last breaths inhaled in their classrooms), liberty (What about our First Amendment rights?) and the pursuit of happiness (How can we be happy when every single day, our peers are robbed of their lives?). — That to secure these rights, administrations are instituted among humanity, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed (screaming ‘let us out’ at the schoolhouse gate). — That whenever any form of administration becomes destructive of these ends (claiming to protect our safety, restricting our March to Protect Our Lives), it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it (and we will):

When our school administration threatens students with punishment for advocating for their lives, we will walk out.

When our school administration preaches the mission statement of empowerment and shuts down our modes of self-advocacy and expression, we will walk out. 

When our school administrations restrict our path to the school gates, we will persist, and we will walk out.

When our school administration tells us that our screaming does nothing, we will scream louder, and we will walk out.

When our school administration attempts to take credit for and profit from a student-led, student-organized movement that occurred with reluctant support from officials, we will remember their blockade, and we will walk out.

When our national administration repeatedly fails to provide protection to which students are entitled, we will walk out.

When our national administration is incapable of empathizing with victims, we will provide our support, and we will walk out.

When our national administration believes the best way to limit gun deaths in schools is to put more guns in schools, we will walk out.

When our national administration refuses to deliver justice, we will walk out, and we will do it ourselves.

– Natalie Grant ’19

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8 Comments

8 Responses to “Letter to the Editor: A Declaration of Independent Thought”

  1. Scarlet Levin on March 14th, 2018 9:32 pm

    Absolutely incredible, Natalie. You really spoke for all of us who walked out today and for the middle schoolers who couldn’t.

  2. Ella Tollman on March 14th, 2018 9:39 pm

    Thank you so much Natalie for sharing your voice with the archer community and speaking for many of us who walked today and experienced everything you are expressing. I only hope that moving forward we continue to have these conversations and learn from eachother. I feel as though the disconnect between the Administration and students specifically has been so impactful that it is moments like today when we need to have our voices heard and our conversations need to exceed beyond just the surface level. I marched today with my sisters by my side and it will be a day that I will never ever forget.

  3. Alexa Batty on March 14th, 2018 9:41 pm

    Natalie Grant, thank you. Thank you for saying what we’re all thinking. This was a huge topic today amongst almost all students, middle schoolers and high schoolers. I’m glad someone is willing to publish the opinion of the student body, no matter how unpopular it may turn out to be with the administration.

  4. Maya Winkler on March 15th, 2018 11:49 pm

    Alexa-

    Please be aware that stating “what we’re all thinking” may not in fact be a true statement. The generalizations are what need to stop so that we can have fluid, respectful conversations on difficult topics.

  5. Elizabeth English on March 14th, 2018 10:51 pm

    Dear Natalie – Thank you for your letter. I look forward to meeting with you and other students tomorrow during lunch. In the meantime, I’d like you to know that the administration and I, specifically, fully supported our students’ right to protest gun violence. Last week I met with student leadership and made it clear that this was their event, their day. I shared my concern about student safety given the number of parents I’d heard from since the MSDHS shooting. I was also concerned that our students might become a target given that there has been so much hostility from our neighbors toward our school. This was, admittedly, out of an abundance of concern for your and others’ safety. I believe the student leadership who planned today’s activities heard my concern as legitimate and genuine and organized what they felt was a meaningful event with opportunities for activism such as early voter registration and letter writing. They wanted it to be a day of love and to give time to those who’d lost their lives in yet another tragic school shooting. When we learned that students from the Brentwood School would be protesting in front of Archer, Ms. Babin, Ms. Warner, and Ms. Pavliscak and I agreed that any Upper School Student who wanted to leave campus would be free to do so without consequence. When one of your classmates asked me directly if she could leave campus while we were observing the 17 minutes of silence, I said plainly, “yes, this is a student protest.” That we asked students to sign out was simply because we have a responsibility to account for every student in the school. But no Upper School student was prevented from leaving campus and no student was disciplined for doing so. While our attempt to account for students leaving campus may have felt like a “blockade” to you, for those of us who are responsible for your safety, it felt like the right thing to do. With regard to the Middle School, we supported their walk out from classes. Not allowing them to stand on Sunset was also a matter of safety. As the Head of School I was proud of every Archer girl who raised her voice today, and I know Ms. Babin, Ms. Warner, and Ms. Pavliscak were too. The rest of the senior administrative team and I look forward to talking with you and other students tomorrow during lunch. I personally would like to hear more about your claims that administrators at Archer are trying to take credit for or profit from our students’ activism or that we told you that your protesting does nothing. As I told an Archer student who sat on a safety panel with me yesterday, student activism feels like our country’s greatest hope.

  6. Lauren Bahedry on March 15th, 2018 12:31 pm

    Elizabeth,

    After spending yesterday afternoon listening to my students and providing them a safe space to voice both their beautiful feelings of empowerment and their concerns about “how it all went down”, I am glad for the chance to hear your perspective as well. I am so looking forward to today’s meeting, and am grateful for the chance it will offer for us all to listen to one another, and hear how differently each person experienced this meaningful event. I am proud that we are opening up this conversation as a chance to engage and reflect as a community, and believe deeply in the importance and value of this conversation. Open and honest communication is such a key part of what makes a community flourish, along with the willingness to listen to one another.

    And to Natalie–thank-you for voicing the concerns of the students so frankly. If we are going to come to together, if we are going to move forward, then we first have to be open and honest about what we are feeling. This is a great jumping off point, I hope, for us to hang on ever tighter to our Archer values.

  7. Zoë on March 15th, 2018 12:33 am

    Such an eloquent message. Thank you, Nat, for representing the student population in this contentious state of affairs. I look forward to standing alongside you in tomorrow’s Town Hall meeting.

  8. Aviva Intveld on March 15th, 2018 1:10 am

    Powerful and articulate, Nat. Even before we walked out, I felt uncomfortable with (to use your words) the “profiting” of our emotions and actions. As I held hands and comforted a friend (who had personally known a Marjory Stoneman Douglas victim) during the 17 silent minutes, I had to ask a Communications faculty member to stop taking photos of us crying. In such a raw and painful moment, the idea that our school might use our grief as something to benefit the institution felt particularly invasive.

As members of Archer’s active and engaged community, the Oracle welcomes reader comments and debate. We encourage community members to take ownership of their opinions by using their names when commenting. However, in order to ensure a diverse range of opinions, we do allow anonymous comments as long as they are respectful, relevant, and abide by Archer’s Responsible Use Policy. Comments are moderated, but not edited, and will appear once approved.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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