Walkout: Students call for ceasefire, Israel-Palestine curriculum


Protesting students hold "President Biden: Ceasfire Now!" signs.

Nolan Whitehill

On Tuesday, March 13, 2024, chants of “Free Palestine,” “Teach Palestine,” and “Ceasefire” could be heard from the senior steps, where Berkeley High School  students gathered to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and advocated for the teaching of the Israel-Palestine conflict in Berkeley Unified School District  classes. According to an email sent out by BHS Principal Juan Raygoza, an estimated 300 students attended the walkout. 

At 11:00 am., the students walked out o.f their third-period classes towards the front steps of the A-building and later gathered near Allston Way and Martin Luther King Jr. Way to paint a mural. The mural depicted a person wearing a keffiyeh holding a book with a Palestinian flag as the cover, with the words “Ceasefire, Free Palestine.” surrounding the image. 

BHS senior Mara Washington attended the protest with the hope that it would allow the school more freedom to teach about the issue into classrooms. “I hope that it’ll help administrators and teachers be able to teach about it in school, because I think it should be taught to every student what’s going on,” Washington said. 

The topic of teaching about the Israel-Palestine conflict in BUSD schools, especially through the ethnic studies program, has been a widely discussed issue within BUSD, especially at recent school board meetings. During the March 6, 2024, BUSD School Board meeting, several presenters asked BUSD to teach about the conflict in the ethnic studies curriculum. A flier for the walkout called for the district to teach about the Israel-Palestine conflict and demanded a ceasefire resolution for BUSD, as well as citywide.

A senior who attended the protest and wished to remain anonymous talked about the importance of bringing the topic into school for discussion. Shortly after the protesters chanted “Teach Palestine,” the student said, “We need to be teaching these facts in school. We cannot have them be removed because it’s a very substantial part of history.”

The Walkout was held at the A Building steps.

The Walkout was held at the A Building steps.

Nolan Whitehill

The anonymous senior felt that the protest was a way of doing something about the issue instead of letting it drive them to inaction. “It’s really easy to feel pessimistic in such troubling conflict. But it’s important to try to just do everything you can to just show your support for the issue,” the student said.

Several students spoke at the top of the steps of the A-building, sharing poems, giving speeches, and leading chants. Amelia Monagle-Olson, who spoke to the crowd at the walkout, said, “We demand that we be taught Palestinian ethnic studies curriculum because this is not a conversation that can be pushed aside.”