Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Seniors turned their backs on speaker, Sweetwater trustee Jim Cartmill

Mar Vista grads protest at ceremony
Seniors turned their backs on speaker, Sweetwater trustee Jim Cartmill
Caroline Dipping
May 30, 2012

Protesting teacher layoffs, dozens of Mar Vista High School seniors turned their backs on the keynote speaker at their graduation ceremony Tuesday on the Imperial Beach campus.

Shortly after Sweetwater Union High School District board member Jim Cartmill began his remarks at the podium, the capped and gowned students stood and turned their backs to him. They held their stance for about 20 seconds before taking their seats at the request of Mar Vista Principal Wes Braddock.

The commencement exercise continued without interruption. Braddock said the fact the seniors resumed their seats within seconds indicated “they are respectful in their hearts,” but he was still disappointed by the demonstration...

A member of Occupy Sweetwater, a community activist group leading an effort to recall trustees Arlie Ricasa, John McCann and Cartmill, said the group was not involved in prompting or planning the students’ actions. The group has collected more than 500 of the 18,000 signatures needed by Aug. 27 to recall the board members in light of a district attorney’s investigation into construction contracting procedures.

“We’re just very proud that students took such a risk and stood up for themselves and their classmates,” said Lauren McLennan, an Occupy Sweetwater member. “Some adults are already trying to blame us, but it was the students’ decision and they organized it themselves.

Hours after his graduation ceremony, Mar Vista High senior Josh Cade posted on Occupy Sweetwater’s Facebook page.

“We took a stand against their corruption and we recommend other graduating students mimic our actions to show the school board that they can’t continue this outrageous mishandling of their budget,” Cade wrote. “They are ruining lives of our cherished teachers, mentors, and friends; students, we need to show our disapproval.”...

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