Students Hold Candlelight Vigil for Teachers' Strike
Lake Forest High School students demonstrate their desire for their teachers to return to class.
Students lined the sidewalk outside of Lake Forest High School this evening for a candlelight vigil to show support for the striking teachers as well as a desire to get back to normal school days as soon as possible.
Kevin Doherty, a junior at LFHS, organized the vigil as a way to unite his peers and to demonstrate a non-partisan desire to get the teachers back in the school. He circulated a petition at the event for students to sign saying that they wanted their teachers back — he plans on making a copy for both the Board and the union.
"I miss my teachers a lot," Doherty said. "A lot of them are more than teachers to me — they're friends and mentors — and I really miss them a lot. This is my way of speaking up, and saying that we miss them and want them to come back."
While Doherty acknowledge that candlelight vigils are typically used after a death or other tragedy, he said that he felt they were a good way to bring people together, which is exactly what he felt the school needed now.
About 25 students showed up for the vigil, and the tone varied between light (with students laughing about the schedule in place for the last two days, or catching up with friends they hadn't seen recently) and somber, with students speaking about how LFHS teachers had changed their lives.
"I wouldn't be the person that I am today without these teachers. They shaped me and inspired me," said Mollie Blahunka, a senior at LFHS.
"We all have had that one teacher who really affects us. Even when they push us hard, we know it's for the best," said Caroline May, also a student at LFHS.
While the teachers did not attend the vigil — they said they wanted it to remain as neutral as possible — they did send a message to be read there. It said, "You are with us in spirit. We want nothing more than to be back as soon as we can. We know LFHS is the best school to teach at, and that is because of the students."
Lake Forest High School remained open today for its second mandatory attendance day during the strike. The school is staffed by a mix of certified teachers, assistants, aides, administrators and volunteers.
Although an earlier statement by the school noted that there would be a full day of quality programming, some students don't see it as worthwhile.
"I honestly just watched movies all day," said Priscilla Muller, a junior. "I felt like it was just busy work. … I get tired of school a lot, but now I just want to get back to classes."
"Our parents want us to go, but we don't want to. We try to sneak away," said Ben Schoeller, also junior. "It's like jail in there. … I felt scared." Schoeller noted that there were uniformed officers standing at every exit, so students couldn't leave as the pleased during the day.
The Board and the teachers' union resumed negotiations at 3 p.m. this afternoon. As of publication, they remain in talks. A statement made on the Lake Forest Teacher's Facebook page read, "We can report that progress is being made."