Mauna Kea Walkout


Genevieve Mumma

Mehana Garza had also organized several sign waving prior to the school walkout; she had initially started them in front of Wahiawa McDonalds.

Sasha Numazu-Fisher , Opinions and Blogs Editor

     On Sept. 9, a group of over 50 MHS students participated in a Mauna Kea walkout; its purpose was to unite individuals that are currently against the construction of the thirty meter telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea. The walkout was organized by Seniors Mehana Garza, Kyle Shifflett and Isaiah Siaris, and it took place during both lunch periods and urged students to walk across campus. The walkout participants chanted, sang and preached their beliefs in order to spread awareness on the issue.

     “The difference we tried to make with this walkout is not necessarily short term, more for the long term. In Mililani, not often do people talk about this kind of stuff. We thought it was important to give the people a voice, as well as showing our community that is upon the Mauna, they aren’t alone, we hear them,” said Shifflett. 

      Protests against the construction of the telescope began within the state of Hawai’i on July 15, which was when the construction was set to begin. Over thousands of people gathered on Mauna Kea in order to stand strong in resistance to the building, which then led MHS students to protest here on Oahu. “My stance on Mauna Kea is that I stand with Mauna Kea, I stand with my people, and I stand for what is right. I am against the thirty-meter telescope (TMT) and I have many reasons why I am against it. I’ve spent many hours reviewing some of the same documents to make sure that the information that I receive and share with others is correct,” said Garza.  

     Several students spread the word of the walkout through social media outlets such as Instagram and Snapchat. Over the course of one day, Garza, Shifflett and Siaris were able to unite a vast majority of passionate students to participate. Those who participated dressed in red and yellow attire and brought signs and Hawaiian flags to school. “I believe student activism is important because students should have a voice and it should be heard even though we are still counted as minors and people may think we are childish. We are still people too, we still have our own minds, so we should be able to speak it,” said Junior Maile Hamili, one of the walkout leaders. 

     MHS students are one of the many students on the island who have begun to organize school protests in an attempt to spread awareness on stopping the construction of TMT. The organizers themselves were initially inspired by the Maui Middle School walkout that had taken place on Sept. 7. “This rally woke everyone up. This one small thing has woken up communities across this island. Kahuku, Campbell, and Aiea all put aside their differences for something greater. We showed that even though we are young, we were taught to stand for something we truly believe in,” said Siaris. 

     Since the initial walkout on Monday, the students had also organized a sign waving on Sept. 11, and on Sept. 13. The organizers have also made strides by uniting groups of students that are interested in leading more walkouts, sign wavings and want to contribute to the donations needed for the “protectors” who are currently on Mauna Kea. “The future plans regarding the Mauna is already being planned. Other students, as well as Kumu Kekoa Wong, have been having meetings and have been using our free time to discuss the issue, educate ourselves and plan many more events and create another club that will actually make a difference for the Mauna. I am excited to see how future events go down and I am excited to see all these students being impacted and coming together to make a difference,” said Garza. 

     The organizers are now communicating with Principal Fred Murphy, in order to better coordinate future events as the protests and walk-outs are student organized and not school organized.