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    The right to petition

    The right to petition

    By Jami Davis

    Senior Joey Shelton exercises his first amendment rights.

    What made you think about starting a petition?
    Well, that’s how it works in the government. You get the people together and a grassroots effort usually works.

    What was your goal in starting the petition?
    I was working to keep the walls from being painted over [in Ms. Eliades art room] to preserve the art work from students a long time ago.

    How many names did you end up with for the petition?
    437, seven of which were teachers.

    How did you go about approaching people?
    I would just go to them and say “Do you know the art room murals in Ms. Pierce’s classroom?” And if they did, they would sign, after I told them what was going on. If they didn’t then I would show them pictures I had printed out.

    Did you ask for any type of permission to start the petition?
    I didn’t really ask for permission, but after about 170 signatures maybe, I had to go to Ms. Smallwood and talk to her, and tell her it was in the works.

    What reaction did you get from the administration?
    They were open towards it for the most part, but when it got to a certain point they were like, “But we did give her permission a while back.”

    Did you have any direct conversation with Ms. Eliades?
    I talked to her a few times.

    What was the end result that you were looking for?
    I was looking for them to at least be preserved for a set amount of time.

    How do you feel about the process of petitioning?
    It’s again, how the government works. If people are going to bring about change, or not bring about change, that’s the way to do it.

    Would you ever create a petition again?
    If given the opportunity, yes. Even though it didn’t work this time we got it to the SGA meeting and we got endorsement, so it was obviously something that had a fighting chance.

    Why did you go to the SGA?
    They represent the voice of the student body, so going to them and having the entire voice of the student body endorsing it would look better to administration.

    Do you think students have an opportunity to make a change in policy in schools?
    Yes, they can definitely make change in policy as long as it is reasonable and not something completely outrageous.

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    • C

      Carrie YoungMar 10, 2011 at 7:24 pm

      Creating a petition and taking it so seriously really takes dedication and courage, so kudos to Joey. I like the idea of students who are at the school now painting some new murals, but I can understand the tradition aspect of the situation.

    • L

      Laken AdamsMar 4, 2011 at 7:47 pm

      I agree with the way he went about petitioning. It shows that students in our school know the correct way of going about things. However, the choice of the art room should lie primarily to the teacher of that room. Every other teacher has the right to decorate their room as they please, so why should it be any different in an art room. Maybe we could find other ways of preserving the art work that would make it last longer.

    • A

      Alex MartinezMar 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm

      They’re going to paint over the hand shooting the beam at the brick wall and opening a portal? I love that painting! It’s very unfortunate that Joey didn’t succeed with his petition. Are they students going to be able to paint a new wall?

    • O

      Olivia TritschlerMar 4, 2011 at 8:44 am

      Standing up for your beliefs and opinion is important in society. This is how changes occur. I was also against the walls being painted over because they were a way to remember the past students who have gone here and it was a piece of art and no one should be able to just come in and erase a work of art. It is obvious that the space that is open for new art work is being covered quickly but I also think that not just everyone should be able to paint on the walls because I take art and in my class it seems like some people just don’t care about art.

    • C

      Conner StevensonJan 14, 2011 at 10:04 pm

      Being part of the SGA I was in the meeting where this was voted on. Even if the decision had not gone in his favor from the SGA, I would have admired this guys efforts to fight for the history of the school and what he believes should be done about this.

    • E

      Evan MayJan 14, 2011 at 9:13 pm

      As a member of the SGA who endorsed the petetion, i was upset to learn that all 437 signatures and the SGA endorsement was ignored by the school board. Hopefully if the need to petition arises again, the school board will listen to voice of the students.

    • T

      Tessa AllenJan 14, 2011 at 9:03 pm

      I wish I’d known about this when it was happening, guess I should pay more attention. I’m glad to see a student being responsible and actually taking a stand when it would have been easier for him to sit back and just complain about it.

    • R

      Rachel ArnoldJan 14, 2011 at 1:48 pm

      I thought this was a great idea. I personally signed it, hoping that the murals would stay, but unfortunately it didn’t make the impact I expected. It’s nice to see the student body getting involved in something like this. I really felt like I was making a difference. (Even though it didn’t really affect anything.)

    • R

      rachel waymackJan 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      I had no idea about the artwork that was going to be painted over, so this article was very informative. I also am impressed by him standing up and using his first amendment rights to try to make a difference.

    • R

      Raya GirardJan 12, 2011 at 3:51 pm

      In order to preserve the art work of former students , an artist that was studying photography could go in the art room and photograph all the art work and then display the photographs, perhaps even on the Royal News. That way even more people would get to view the art work and the photographs would last forever and the art teacher can have new students paint the walls and start the whole process over again.

    • H

      Haseena Abdur-RahmanJan 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm

      I like petitions and i think this act of petitioning grants people not only the freedom to stand up and speak out against injustices they feel are occurring, but also grants the power to help change those injustices. I think that this petition not only inspired other students to have a voice, but also to pursue it.

    • R

      Rachael KarnsJan 3, 2011 at 10:14 am

      I think that this petition was great, and I wish that the administration would have listened to the student body a bit more. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that the teacher had permission to pain over the walls, but if the students raised a concern about it, I feel that Mrs. Eliades should have waited to see how it would have played out. That’s what disappointed me.

    • J

      Jessica TaylorJan 2, 2011 at 2:15 pm

      I think that Joey is very brave to start a petition and try to make a change. It takes guts and perserverance. I have never actually been in the art room and seen all of the murals, but I am definitely for keeping them.

    • S

      shelby reynoldsJan 2, 2011 at 11:41 am

      I think it is absolutely terrrible that the school is willing to just throw all of the art out. its beautiful and it hold alot of history and talent. and pllus the art roomm is the best room in the whole school because of the art all of the place. I think they should keep it. and if they want to make room for new art in the art room then switch the ceiling boards with the ones in the hall..its not my idea..its my little eleven year old sisters idea..but its a good one..and i like it. so lets do it.

    • M

      Malikah WilliamsDec 17, 2010 at 7:47 pm

      This is a prime example of effectively using your 1st amendment rights. So often as teenagers we feel as though we cannot change anything or voice our opinions about the institution of school, when in actuality we can.

    • M

      Madison GuidryDec 17, 2010 at 3:33 pm

      I think it is great that students are standing up for what they want. However, I think the student body is being very unfair to Ms. Eliades because it is now her room and the old art teacher is gone. It would be like buying a house but not being able to decorate it because it was not yours first. I think the students need to open their minds and realize it is not all about what they want.

    • D

      Diana O.Dec 17, 2010 at 12:40 pm

      The petition was a great idea. Going to SGA was an even better idea. Once the administration sees that the student body was against the Mrs. Eliades painting over the students in the past artwork further and justice actions can be taken. I think this a great article and informative.

    • T

      Trey CarterDec 17, 2010 at 11:47 am

      This is great! Many people learn about their rights in various history and government classes, but few truly use these right. Kudos to Joey for actually taking a stand in what he is passionate about, if more people took advantage of their rights, the students would have a larger voice in the school.

    • J

      Jill FairchildDec 16, 2010 at 11:24 am

      Standing up for what you believe in is hugely important. I think a lot of people don’t think it’s possible to go up against people higher up the food chain than them, so kudos to Joey for going for it. Even though it didn’t work, it got a lot of students involved in something.