Walk Out 2022 – What’s Next?


Alexander Walters, Writer

On Monday, January 17th, 2022, a tragedy occurred at a Capital High School basketball game. A student in the student section from Capital recorded himself making racist remarks towards a student from the opposing team, followed by gorilla sounds. The student then posted the video to social media, tagging the student he had harassed. The next day, a Facebook post by the victim’s father went viral, and soon enough the story had been picked up and posted on several of Washington’s most prominent news sites. 

Many students at Capital are not surprised that this incident occurred, some stating that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Bella Conley shared in an interview, she was “really disgusted by the ignorance of everyone and the lack of discipline from the school district.” 

In an interview with Mr. Steve Hamilton, a psychology and history teacher, at Capital High School, he was asked about his feelings about the basketball game incident. He stated, “To me, I think it showed how much we have to do in the sense of it being known but to the power of historic racist terminology.” He said that the student in question, “should know better.” He then ended his response by saying that we must “Remember but continue the conversation.”

Julien and Sunny, two Capital students, organized a walk-out, set on Monday, January 24th, a week after the basketball game incident had occurred. About 200 hundred students, around 14% of the total number of students at Capital, were in attendance and the result was described by Bella Conley as “beautiful to be a part of and to see the amount of support.” Students who participated on Monday the 24th walked out directly after third period to the courtyard outside of the cafeteria and remained outside until the middle of sixth period, meaning these students were outside for three hours in forty degree weather. 

Those who spoke at the peaceful protest shared their unfortunate experiences with discrimination in the Olympia School District and shared their stories. During the walkout, several students were walking around the crowd, passing out fruit snacks or hand warmers to the protesters. One student who attended the walk out expressed the general feeling of the walkout, “I was proud of the amount of kids who stepped up to be the change.” 

Mr. Hamilton was asked what the feeling of watching the walkout was. He responded, “I think it’s great when students use their constitutional rights… to have a voice in society. [The students] were doing everything teachers should want.” 

The demands of the walkout were clear. Students must be held accountable for their actions and there must be education about the struggles that minorities face. Attached is a screenshot of the demands posted a day later on the official walkout instagram page, @chsprotest2022.

Only days later, the administration of Capital High School held class meetings to discuss the basketball game; which many students felt was never properly discussed. In the email that was sent out to all students, (attached underneath), it was stated that there would be a discussion on the impact of this event.

Unfortunately for students, the topic of racism was glimpsed over, the word being only said once throughout the nearly period long meeting. Instead, this class meeting focused on the topic of “accountability” and “self kindness”. The meeting left many students with a sour taste in their mouths, feeling this was a waste of their time. Teachers even were caught texting during these meetings. Capital student Addison Cambern remarked, “the best moment of the meeting was when Kristoff asked to use the bathroom” to put it bluntly. Or, as Bella Conley said, “[the class wide meetings] were a dumpster fire, simply put.” She continued to say, “it just felt like they were skirting around the issue and nothing was brought up.”

Mr. Hamilton was asked about how he felt the class-wide meetings went, from a teacher’s perspective, and he said that students felt they, “overwhelmingly didn’t get what they needed”.

It has been said that there was a second slideshow that had student input, however this slideshow was not shown. The slideshow in question was sent out to staff and some teachers have since presented it in class, but as it was not a requirement and with finals nearing, many students have not seen this. 

The protest account Wednesday night posted several photos of the second slideshow, with a caption vocalizing their feelings of the Wednesday class meetings.

What is the next step in confronting discrimination and making Capital High School a better place for minority students? Mr. Hamilton was asked this question and he stated that the question was “the million dollar question” and “that’s above my pay-grade.” He did mention that there needs to be discussion however.

When Bella Conley was asked the question, her response was short and simple, “Starting to take actual accountability.”

How can Capital become a safer place for students who are in a minority and face discrimination on a regular basis? What can the school hope to achieve? No matter what the end is, these events cannot be forgotten and must be learned from if one expects to grow.