Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Ross Halliday incites his fellow Nikiski High School students to secede from the Kenai Peninsula Borough with a fiery speech delivered Dec. 10 at the school. The assembly was a joint project between Joe Rizzo’s English and Darren Zibell’s social studies classes.
By Jenny Neyman
The students of Nikiski High School are fed up, and they’re not going to take it anymore.
“I denounce this Kenai Peninsula Borough, living through this oppression that is called school is unacceptable,” said Nikiski senior Kade Anderson. “Our duty is to be free and the borough should not be able to infringe upon it.”
Students in Joe Rizzo’s English and Darren Zibell’s social studies classes presented their declaration of sovereign independence Dec. 10 to “Colonial Governor (aka, Principal) Dan Carstens, school district Superintendent Sean Dusek and Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre. Representatives of the four new micronations the students intend to form — North Roadia, Order of the Guilds, Kratia Novus and Dysfunctional Dystopia — explained their intentions to secede from the borough, giving the officials a chance to respond and restore unity to the land.
Convincing the Bostonians that taxation without representation wasn’t really such a bad idea might have been an easier sell.
“Better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep. These are the words under which we rally,” said Ross Halliday, borrowing some quotes from Mussolini to a roar of cheers from the crowd. “I can say that their goal to turn us to mice has failed. Liberty is a duty, not a right. We recognize this and we ascend to the helm of victory. We do not argue with those who disagree with them. We destroy them!”
“You’re scaring me a little. This sounds like a real insurrection, we’re talking about blood and tyranny. It sound like you’re pretty serious about this,” Mayor Navaare said, braving the podium. “So what I’m going to do is to encourage the colonial governor and the superintendent to figure this out before we have to call in Michelle Obama to straighten you guys out.”
“Well it is a rebellion, so they’re not very orderly,” Rizzo responded. “You’ve had borough assembly meetings like this, Mike, I know you have.”
In amongst the boos, cheers and podium-thumping theatrics, the students gave speeches enumerating their list of grievances, pointing out inconsistencies and presumed injustices under which they are oppressed.
Why do other schools have vending machines, but Nikiski Middle-High School does not? Why do juniors and seniors have the privledge of leaving campus, but sophomores do not? Why are sweatshirts from the Homer bar Salty Dawg not allowed, when clothing from Walmart or similar retails that sell alcohol are?
Haley Miller cited National Sleep Foundation and Centers for Disease Control findings that students are not getting enough sleep to function at their best, arguing that school should start at 9:30 a.m., instead of catering to adults’ earlier schedules.
“If you are able to find a flaw in my reasoning it’s probably because I had to get up at an ungodly hour to get ready to come to school and write and deliver this speech,” Miller said.
Alecia Bridges took on the school’s dress code, in which hats are not allowed, nor is clothing that advertises a bar, or that bares shoulders or too much leg.
“Students should be allowed to express their unique, individual personalities through their style and clothes with less restrictions,” she said. “… We don’t want to hear, ‘Well, when I was your age.’ No. This is the new generation and the world is not the same as it was then. … If a guy wants to wear a hat, why not, if it doesn’t have vulgar language or an explicit graphic? For that matter, if a guy wants to wear a dress and heels or if a girl wants to wear men’s clothing then their personal style should not be based on gender preferences.”
Sam Tauriainen advocated for a loosening of the school’s cellphone restrictions.
“I think that as students we owe a certain respect to our teachers in class, that when we’re in class I think we should stay off our phones,” he said. “… But I think that during passing period we should be allowed to be on our phones.”