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Second Graders Stage Silent Protest March at Royal Heights Elem - KOAM TV 7

Second Graders Stage Silent Protest March at Royal Heights Elementary; Civil Rights in Action

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Joplin, MO -

Second graders threatened with the loss of recess, stage a peaceful protest in a real world application of a civil rights lesson.

Empowered by history and armed with signs bearing their message, forty-eight second graders at Royal Heights elementary marched down a long hallway to the principal's office.

We're getting back our recess,” one said.

Students say the principal announced a recess cut Monday when they allegedly had lower reading scores than first graders for lack of effort.

So they designated four leaders to express their emotions.

“Mad, frustrated, angry, sad,” read Layne Royle from a speech prepared by the class.

They also wanted to make a case for restoring recess.

Royle says, "It is important because you get to talk with your friends and if you get your energy out, then you can work harder."

Their inspiration; Martin Luther King Junior.

Elaina Ramos explains, "He was trying to stop segregation."

After making their case, Principal Joy White was convinced.

She told them, “These are some great conflict resolution skills and great ways to express your opinions. So I think it’s probably appropriate that you have that recess back.”

Royle’s reaction, "It actually happened fast.” When asked   

How long he would  have been willing to stay to get the point across, Royle said, “I would have been willing to stay  for forty minutes."

The protest marks the culmination of a civil rights units the second graders have been working on in class for about two weeks.

Teacher Carmi Hinman says that included not only King Junior but "Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, just trying  to cover a wide variety of people."

The students have learned that it won't always be as easy as today.

Dayton Hunter remembered about his lesson that, "The white people had firefighters spray them to make them trip. They had dogs that would attack."

Hinman says, "We wanted it to become relevant. We wanted it to become real to them so that they could be able to use it later in their life."

The teachers mostly  wanted  students learn  how and why to engage in  a peaceful protest.

Layne Royle says, "Cause if you just run down there yelling you disrupt classes."

And Devin Edwards learned, "You don't say mean words and don't disrespect people."

A lesson even adults can also apply.

The students never really lost recess. The cut was only proposed. The students believe their protest signs and speeches showed effort the principal alleged was lacking in their scores.

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