The 20 or so students who gathered at the flagpole in front of Watchung Hills Regional's front doors, milled about and waved to friends before classes Friday. The students, mostly dressed in black, were staging a protest, albeit a quiet one, to make sure negotiators for the board of education and the teachers association know how the current impasse is affecting them.
But the students weren't unrealistic about the effect of their protest: when asked what they thought it would accomplish, most quickly said "nothing."
They then quickly began to list the problems the teachers' "work to rule" hours was causing, one girl said she hasn't been able to make up a test this week; another said she always meets with her teacher to stay ahead in her studies but can't.
"It's kind of not fair because I can't get the help I need," another girl said.
The protest was the first of two planned and organized through a Facebook page, Protest the BoE Day, with a human chain around the school planned for Monday.
Meanwhile, inside the school, another student is working to dispell misinformation he says the students are getting. Akash Katakam, who recently organized a Young Democrats Club in the school, said his club and the Junior Statesmen of America club are working to inform students without encouraging them to "pick a side" in the protracted labor talks.
"We're not taking a specific side, but there's a lot of misinformation among the students that we're trying to clear up," he said.
He said his club is also encouraging more students to attend board of education meetings to gain more understanding of the negotiations, as well as to participate in the discussion at the meetings.
As for the protesting students, Akash noted not all of the school's students would agree with the protestors, with many having differing points of view.
"That's not the whole student body," he said.
As class time neared, the students outside gathered their backpacks and books and entered the school to heads to first period classes. Whether the protest will have any impact remains to be seen, but it's certain their concerns won't be overlooked.