Gunn High students held a picket in solidarity with Ukraine on Friday, at the school’s main entrance by Arastradero Road.
The group of about 20 students — most part of Gunn’s social justice pathway, a three-year program with courses tailored to address social justice issues — held handmade signs and chanted “Slava Ukraine!” to the enthusiastic car honking of students and parents pulling into the parking lot.
Students began planning for the event when social justice teacher Jason Miller first touched upon the Russian invasion of Ukraine in history class.
“All these kids are in contemporary world history, and as we’re beginning to talk about the cold war, the Ukraine situation came about, and the kids wanted to make a difference,” Miller said. “They planned for weeks to do something that could make an impact.”
Initially, the students hoped to organize a larger event — such as a city-wide march or a school-wide bake sale to raise money — but when turned down by both the city and the school, they still fought to make a difference.
“I guess we were just really angry about what was going on, and the fact that it took a long time for people [at Gunn] to understand,” said sophomore Amelie Sarrazin. “Like, you know there’s a war, but you don’t realize that there’s a ton of people dying and [that Russians are] targeting civilians.”
In the end, these students decided on organizing a picket.
“The two [class] periods of social justice collectively came up with ideas,” said sophomore Kristy Rueff. “We had to work on communication, but we were able to do that, and we were able to make a plan for everyone to come here before and after school.”
Along with the in-person demonstration, students created an online brochure with general information about the crisis, links to charities to support and a list of actions students can take to actively help the situation.
“Being aware gives you power,” Miller said. “We encourage students to get out there and make a difference.”