Clear Springs High School students discuss local activism, reform after leading peaceful protest

More than 300 people peacefully protested in the League City area June 14 in a gathering led by Clear Springs High School students. (Courtesy Jason Kumelski)
More than 300 people peacefully protested in the League City area June 14 in a gathering led by Clear Springs High School students. (Courtesy Jason Kumelski)

More than 300 people peacefully protested in the League City area June 14 in a gathering led by Clear Springs High School students. (Courtesy Jason Kumelski)

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Layla Vital was one of the three Clear Springs seniors who helped organize the demonstration. (Courtesy Jason Kumelski)
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Mayor Pat Hallisey attended the protest; Durshun Shah (center) was another of the organizers. (Courtesy Jason Kumelski)
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The protest route was 3.6 miles in total, starting at Clear Springs High School and traveling along FM 518 and Bay Area Boulevard. (Courtesy Jason Kumelski)
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Organizers said their goal for the protest was to encourage their peers to pay attention to social issues and understand the importance of taking action locally. (Courtesy Jason Kumelski)
Houston-area residents have engaged in protests and demonstrations throughout the month in the wake of George Floyd’s death, including three rising seniors at Clear Creek ISD.

Durshun Shah, Hannah Kuecker and Layla Vital, all students at Clear Springs High School, helped to organize a peaceful protest against police brutality and inequality on the afternoon of June 14. Nearly 300 people of all ages attended, Vital said, including League City Mayor Pat Hallisey and U.S. District 14 candidate Adrienne Bell. The students' goal was to encourage their peers to pay attention to social issues and understand the importance of taking action locally, including showing up at the polls for upcoming elections.

The group chose to start and end the demonstration at their high school, Shah said, because they want to see more discussions about race and inequality happening in the district’s classrooms. The students agreed that their history education at CCISD could be more inclusive; for example, their Advanced Placement history textbooks have small sections on women’s history and Black history, but this history is not integrated throughout the course, Kuecker said.

Vital said she hopes to see local educators take a different approach to history education that includes discussion around Black civil rights movements and organizers, such as the Black Panther Party.

“When we touch on Black history, it’s kind of limited in the sense where we only talk about stuff like slavery,” she added. “We need to broaden the standpoint on what we teach on Black history.”

The group spoke at a League City City Council meeting June 9. Kuecker said they have formed a loose agenda, including goals related to making local education more inclusive and transparent.

Police reform is also at the top of their agenda: Kuecker said they would like to see the basic tenets of the proposed Justice in Policing Act of 2020 applied in League City, regardless of what happens with the bill at a federal level. In an ideal world, there would be a more trusting relationship between police officers and the communities they serve, Shah said.

“We don't have all the answers—we’re just teenagers—but we’re identifying there’s a problem in our society,” Shah said.

Vital agreed, emphasizing the importance of starting uncomfortable conversations.

“I hope that we’re going to get the ball rolling talking about this,” Vital said. “I just hope it sparks more empathy for the issues people of color have to go through.”

By Colleen Ferguson
A native central New Yorker, Colleen Ferguson worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. Colleen graduated from Syracuse University in 2019, where she worked for the campus's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange, with a degree in Newspaper and Online Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a degree in Spanish language and culture. Colleen previously interned with The Journal News/lohud, where she covered the commute in the greater New York City area.



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