#Freebyrd movement will resonate in our halls forever

#Freebyrd movement will resonate in our halls forever

Story by Daniel Pellegrin, Staff Writer

When faced with a movement as collectively unifying and as emotionally charged as #FREEBYRD, not speaking out can be difficult.

Senior Austin Byrd’s jump into the pond Tuesday, Jan. 31, ended with an alleged punishment of three days suspension, 20 days DAEP and a ticket, and, while not all of these punishments actually occurred, the students exploded and the movement was quickly dubbed #FREEBYRD.

Austin heroically emerged from the murky water, and belly flopped into the presence of the legends that have graced the walls of Texas High.

Soon, however, it stopped being about the punishment and transformed into the focal point of the student body’s frustration against the Administration’s attitudes over the past six months. #FREEBYRD went from concern about punishment to a student-wide backlash against a pattern of disregard to our feelings since the beginning of the year.

To all of those outraged students, Austin was simply our Archduke Ferdinand; we couldn’t believe that Administration would think that they could just give a student such a massive punishment. We felt like cattle and the only thing we could do was yell “FREEBYRD” and hope that we would be heard.

Students were told to go home after refusing to remove disruptive words. When I think “disruption” I think fight, not writing. It’s not as though the slogans were profane or actually caused students to disrupt the educational process. They were simply a small gesture of the students’ feelings toward the recent changes.

The Administrators have the discretion to determine what is disruptive, but their interpretation determined that students with unmarked academic records needed to be sent home because of a word they printed on their shirts, bodies or cars. This is customary of the current Administration and serves to make the point: as a whole, the Admin expects students to behave in a negative way, and when they perceive that someone is defying the rules, they jump on them with such a knee-jerk reaction.

This year we experienced some growing pains with the new Administrators coming in and the old Administrators moving up. I know how Texas High was once run and the new changes seemed more like edicts from the principals than joint decisions by the School Board. Because of how quickly the new rules went into place, everyone had their reasons to be angry, and they used #FREEBYRD to express it.

It’s unfortunate the situation wasn’t handled better in the beginning; it would have saved the school district huge amounts of embarrassment. Sending model students home for silently demonstrating their disapproval; I’m surprised it didn’t cause an even bigger demonstration.

There were a few cases where we as a student body could have handled this a bit better. However, we were angry and felt that we as a student body had been wronged. Our actions would not have gotten out of hand had the Administration not made decisions, regarding this incident and others over the course of the this year, so recklessly.

The student body, while showing a unified movement, were unable to communicate our cause to anyone outside of Texas High. We weren’t unified enough to explain that, while this was about a student’s punishment, the underlining cause was the Administration’s attitude over the last year. If we had planned this more carefully and not jumped to conclusions so fast then we might have gotten more attention, and the effects would have been more widespread.

But, we were all given a first hand demonstration at the awesome ability that we as the student body have to come together for a cause, however loosely it may have been we understood what we were going for. The school got a sense of working together for the first time, and that idea is the best thing that has come from the movement.

We were more unified than we knew, and while it seems like nothing really became of the movement except some T-shirts and a lighter sentence for Austin, let’s not forget that the Administration, which has rarely taken our input into consideration when decision making, went to the Leadership classes specifically requesting counsel on how best to handle the #FREEBYRD issue. From there, they changed their decision on displaying Freebyrd slogans.

So if this entire ordeal has taught us one thing, it’s that sometimes it’s more effective to be blunt when staring into the face of an issue. After all, while the appropriate response would have been to file the necessary forms and submit them to the proper authorities to be ruled upon in a timely fashion, the impact we would have created probably wouldn’t stand the test of time.

But in our organized, yet scattered, our civilized, yet crude, our important, yet insignificant efforts, which we call a movement, there is no denying that what we have done will resonate though the halls of Texas High and in the minds of those who will soon walk after us.