Scenes from a Student Walkout


Ethan Robinson, Freshman

Friday Mar. 3, over 1000 students spilled out of the front doors and onto the front lawn to protest Governor Sarah Huckbee Sanders’ Arkansas LEARNS initiative and express how they feel about the legislation’s impact on the future of public education. Here’s what motivated their decision to speak out.

“I heard everything, and I think Governor Sanders is trying to erase history and stop us from learning about what really happened. Because what about my kids when they grow up, like, you can’t erase history that’s already happened, the only thing you can really do is eliminate it or repeat it,” Ethan Robinson said. 



Alandrea Griffith, Senior

“After finding out about the entire bill, I knew that our teachers care so much about us, and that they deserve a voice. They deserve the numbers that we have, and we needed to do something fast to let the legislature know that we care and that we are here as students.”





Madison Tucker, Senior

“My teacher, Ms. [Ruthie] Walls, is who inspired me to participate in the walkout. She has just done so much for our class and kept us updated on policies like this. And she motivated me to start speaking up. I think the walkout is just gonna shine a light on the fact that our teachers are the ones that we really care about. They’re all really hard-working people, and this bill will quite literally take them away from all their hard work and force them to fight battles they never chose to be a part of.”



Emma Ebeneezer, Senior

“The LEARNS bill covers so many different things. And it definitely affects minorities, but the thing is that it will harm so many communities that the majority of people are actually negatively affected. And so I think it’s good to speak out on things that you want to change. And if you’re with this many people, it’s easier than you think.”




Stoney Rouse, Senior

“My motivation is the negative impact this bill will have on people who are low income and who are minorities. Just to see all of this makes me want to cry. I’m really emotional seeing everybody here, just coming together and fighting against something that is so terrible. It’s heartwarming in a lot of ways, you know what I’m saying? And, yeah, we’re a great community. The Learns Act should be combated. That’s what we’re doing, and I think we’re doing an incredible job.”




Mimi Abochale, Junior

“Personally, I’m on the Student Council, and we’ve been discussing this type of legislation and how it affects us in our everyday lives here at Central. And since I’m an 11th grader, I felt motivated to be in the walkout because I will have to be here next year. And I want to see that my school is protected firsthand.”





Josh Godoy, Senior

“I think it’s a large part of the culture here at Central to have protests like this one. I think it’s important that Central is the kind of school where students are able to voice their opinions, especially against statewide policies. I think it’s a big deal that we were able to protest and have the media here and how [Principal] Mrs. [Nancy] Rousseau approves of it and the superintendent has expressed his pride. I think that shows what Central is.”




Leron McAdoo, Art Teacher/AVID Sponsor

“The reason why I’m out here is because I believe in activism, and I believe in advocacy. And so you have both of those taking place right now. You have children who are advocating for teachers and they’re activated to make a presentation that challenges this policy.”





Rory McCuien, Junior

“We wanted to convey the message that central in a unified front against Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ proposed education bill and that we refused to stand for her bigotry. I think it’s disgusting. It will negatively impact so many children and so many marginalized communities. Central will also be losing a lot of great teachers and our level of education will go down. I do however think that Central is a safer school compared to a lot of rural schools and schools that aren’t funded by the state because we are a National Historic Site. Central is one of the schools that has the strongest student body and the strongest ability to fight and should be fighting for the rural schools that don’t have the ability to fight for themselves.”


Zora Key (right), Freshman

“We need to come together as a student body and express our disapproval for the Learns Act and the disappointment in our legislators for really just breaking our community apart. I mean, our public schools are the heart of who we are. And this is really destructive. And I don’t expect a lot to come out of the walkout. But it’s getting people curious and asking questions. I think that’s the most important thing. So I’m really proud.”




Michael Aguinaga, Sophomore

“I don’t think it’s fair that they’re taking away our money just to give it to the private schools. We should have our own stuff, too, whether it’s for free or not.”







Brady Chandler, Junior

“I think that public education is really vital to the production of a good society and teaching children about the ways that we can affect the world and our society as we grow up is really important. Especially seeing people like my little sister and her friends grow up, it makes me sad to think about how public education will change and how the experiences that I had and like seeing diversity of my schools and being taught about the history of different types of people won’t happen under this new legislation. It makes me sad to see that all these young kids are not going to be able to access Black history and have those resources in their schools and so I hope we can guard against that kind of thing.”


Lillie Parker, Freshman

“I don’t support Governor Sanders. The fact that she’s trying to get rid of critical race theory is the funniest thing to me. Because like this white woman who lives in Arkansas and she’s really trying to be like, ‘We can’t teach you the real stuff about what happened to Black people.’”





Sarea Pitts, Junior


“My mom’s an educator, and also I think that it’s wrong for them to try to limit what type of education we should have and who should teach us.”






Amanda Sanchez, Spanish Teacher

“I am not necessarily participating, per se. However, I am here outside with the Central High School student body to show support to them and to their future.”







Bram Fendley, Junior

“I came to the walkout because I just think the entire situation is unfair. Just all the things that are like happening with the LEARNS Act and the fact that it just was able to get through to so many people so easily and even that a walkout on this scale had to happen. That’s mostly it.”






Max Wiggings, Freshman

“I’m in the Young Leftists. Ever since I heard about the bill, I was worried about it. I was concerned. I helped write the letter because I felt that it was kind of my duty as a student going to this historic school. I had to do that because I feel like I have the need to protect the legacy of the school.”






Nate Alexander, Freshman

“I was motivated because, after reading a lot of the entire bill, I disagreed with pretty much all of it. My family and I actually sat down and read through the whole thing together. So I think it is important to stay informed and engaged.”






Vivian Day, Junior

“I was motivated to participate because the LEARNS Act does not represent any of the values Little Rock Central High stands for including ambition, personality, opportunity, and preparation which are the four pillars of the school that stand above the front entrance. And I’m sick and tired of Sarah Huckabee Sanders using us as a photo opportunity or claiming to have a connection to her alma mater and then supporting policies that will inevitably dismantle public education.”




Ella Tull (second from right), Senior

“Public school is such an important part of our country, and especially of our state. And I think taking away funds from our school is just giving into people that are already privileged, and we have resources here that help people go the places they want to go in life and taking away funds like this is not going to help. We need more help and support.”