The student news site of Adlai E. Stevenson High School


The student news site of Adlai E. Stevenson High School


The student news site of Adlai E. Stevenson High School


Speaking Their Minds

Stevenson students participate in walk-out to spread awareness about the plight of Palestinians amidst Israel-Hamas crisis

On May 2, Stevenson students participated in a walk-out at the football stadium from 11:45 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.. The walk-out consisted of two brief speeches by students, followed by students sitting on the stadium field in silence. Around 80 students from all backgrounds were involved in the walk-out.

At the start of fourth period, students entered through the pool patio and waited before entering the football stadium and congregating on the field. Security was stationed at all openings and exits in order to ensure the safety of the students. Students organized and led the walk-out, called “In Solidarity with Palestine,” in order to raise awareness for the death and displacement occurring in Gaza as a result of the crisis that started in Oct. 2023.

“Over the past seven months, there have been a lot of events in Palestine that have escalated beyond a measure that I think that many people expected,” said Alice Parks ’25*, one of the organizers and speakers at the walk-out. “The loss of life at such a large level in such a short period of time has been very stark; it’s hard to think of so many people just not being there [and] families not being there anymore, and…there’s a lot of pain that comes with that.”

A student protester holds a sign displaying a sign about Hind Rajab, a six year old girl who was killed in Gaza. Numerous student protesters brought their own signs, all of which were checked for hate speech prior to being allowed. (Ansh Aggarwal)

Many students participated in the walk-out to show their support for the people of Palestine amidst the conflict. While students partook in the walk-out, some students wanted to clarify that the walk-out remained peaceful without the escalation to conflict or violence. Walkout participant Zhong Yijun ’27* said that the purpose was to raise awareness related to the crisis occurring in Gaza, where, according to the United Nations, 30,000 people have been killed by February.

“We hope to spread awareness,” Yijun said. “We’re not trying to do anything wrong [or cause any] violence.”

Although many students that participated in the walk-out seeked to raise awareness about the loss of life occurring in Gaza through nonviolent methods, other students believed differently about the purpose of the walk-out. Around 30 Jewish students stood in a separate group at the walk-out by one of the entrances to the football stadium, waving Israeli flags.

Protestor Eden Plotsky stands with the Israeli flag wrapped around her back, surrounded by fellow students. Students in support of Israel walked out as well, to represent their viewpoint. (Ansh Aggarwal)

“I feel like [the walk-out is] placing a bad [influence] on the other kids [about] picking teams here,” walk-out observer Jack Goldberg ’25* said. “It’s not about teams, it’s about peace.”

Both groups involved carried flags and signs, aimed at supporting their viewpoints related to the conflict in the Middle East. While one side emphasized the deaths in Gaza and the 1.9 million civilians forcibly displaced, the other does not want the 1,200 Israeli deaths due to the Oct. 7 attacks and the approximately 100 remaining Hamas hostages to be forgotten. While tensions remained high throughout the walk-out and no conflicts occurred, Parks reiterated that the walk-out was not meant to instigate divisions.

“The goal of our walkout was to truly [bring attention to] the blatant loss of lives that is occurring, [which] is what we’re standing against,” Parks said. “[A] Palestine versus Israel issue… is [not] the message we want to be sending.”

Many participants in the walk-out also emphasize that their role is not taking a side in the war. Those participating in the Israeli walkout, like Maks Yevhen ’24*, emphasize that they are not countering the walk-out itself.

“I think we are really out here to make sure that it doesn’t turn anti-Israel [or] anti-semitic,” Yevhen said. “Because I feel like there’s a very thin line between pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel [speech]. And we just want to make sure that we’re heard and that they don’t start with discriminatory speech.”

Yevhen believes that the end result of the walk-out was a peaceful event where discriminatory speech was not spread, a significant difference from the protests occurring on college campuses around the country. Parks emphasizes that, while the walk-outs are for a similar cause, they are meant to be a peaceful way to spread awareness to the community.

“A high school walk-out isn’t going to change whatever is happening directly,” Parks said. “The situation is not hopeless, as long as you remember. We remember that something’s happening when it’s not forgotten. That’s when you have the ability to actually make sure [history’s] not repeated; as long as you keep remembering and you keep bringing attention to the subject, even locally…there’s still a chance for hope.”


Editor’s Note: The faces on all images used have been blurred to protect the anonymity of students. Students who have not been blurred are already not identifiable, or have consented to the usage of their likeness in all images. If you are a subject of one of these images and would like the image to be pulled, please submit a comment on this post.


*names changed to protect anonymity

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    Joan King | May 6, 2024 at 8:44 pm

    Thanks for such a well written article.