If asked about illegal immigration, health care reform, or President Obama’s foreign policy agenda, these protesters might shrug. However, Parrish Middle School students do know their first amendment rights.
A group of current and former students gathered at Parrish Middle School to protest the transfer of Sue Luft, a sixth grade teacher who instructs Japanese and creative writing classes.
At Parrish, Luft is the last remaining teacher of second languages.
“We are protesting to keep our favorite teacher who teaches Japanese here. She’s a very powerful woman. She shouldn’t leave.” said Theda Costello, a seventh-grade student, who attended both of the classes that Luft teaches.
“She’s changed a lot of students’ lives,” said one of the approximately 20 students gathered at the protest.
Tyler Johnson, 13 and a seventh-grade student, added, “She is Jed Lowrie’s [shortstop for the Boston Red Sox] favorite teacher. We just want to keep her as the only other language teacher here.”
Even though she didn’t take Luft’s classes, Stephanie Magee said that Luft makes herself available to all of the students.
“Whenever you want a big confidence boost, just go to her class and talk to her and she helps.”
Magee added that if she’d been able to take Luft’s class, she would have.
It’s not just an issue for students; many parents are banding together as well.
Jason Hoff, father of a Parrish Middle School student, said in an email, “I have been met with vague answers and non-return of e-mails. The first night that I found out I emailed the Salem-Keizer Superintendent Sandy Husk [and copied many other school officials]. [The email] was responded to very generically and with not much sound of concern.”
The students say that they are unable to transfer to Luft’s new school, because the school is generally full. To prevent the transfer, the students have gathered 121 signatures to keep Luft at Parrish and presented the petition to Principal Rob Schoepper.
The school was closed during the protest; however, faculty was on campus. School administrators were unavailable for comment before Salem Weekly’s deadline. Parents and students plan to present their concerns to the Salem-Keizer School Board on May 11 at 6 p.m. at 2575 Commercial St. SE.