Waffles quell student protest at Roaring Fork High School | PostIndependent.com

Waffles quell student protest at Roaring Fork High School

Ryan Summerlin
rsummerlin@postindependent.com

Waffles turned out to the be the secret ingredient to shift teenage angst into a unified front at Roaring Fork High School Tuesday morning.

After days of rumors that students were going to stage a walkout in protest of the Roaring Fork School District’s passing over beloved assistant principal, Kelsie Goodman for the open principal position, the school body rallied together for a “waffle-in” rather than a walkout.

The school district last week announced its plan to hire Brett Stringer, a middle school principal in Aurora, for the position.

Many students wanted to ditch school to show their support for the assistant principal, but Goodman proposed to channel the student demonstration into something more unifying.

Though it wasn’t clear beforehand how much success the event would have, students flooded into the hallways of the high school commons — drawn to the intoxicating smell of hot waffles — when it kicked off.

The transformation from protest to celebration was like a study in democracy, said Superintendent Rob Stein, who attended the event. Goodman showed strong leadership in helping guide that energy away from a walkout, Stein said.

The students clearly like and respect Goodman and appreciate her contributions to the school. Stein said the students wanted him and the rest of the community to know that.

While he’d never heard of a waffle-in himself, he stuck around to enjoy a helping of the breakfast treat, calling it a very “Carbondale-ish” kind of event.

Jennifer Rios, a senior at Roaring Fork High School, said that since Goodman was her Spanish teacher she had “fallen in love” with the assistant principal.

“She is the embodiment of the woman I want to be some day. She has always been someone I can go to,” Rios said.

This is not just about Goodman but about how much the Roaring Fork students have to be grateful for, Rios announced to the student body at the event.

Stein said he didn’t know whether any students had decided to walk out despite the waffle-in, but he said, “This feels like a really successful event, and the kids have really risen to the occasion.”

Tavia Teitler, also a senior, helped organize the event after talk had circulated that students wanted a way to speak out.

“The students who wanted to walk out wanted to do it out of love and passion for the school and the community, but it wouldn’t have been a good representation of the school and what we believe,” she said.

The idea of the waffle-in was “a little weird and out there,” Teitler admits. “But that’s what Roaring Fork High School does well.”

Teitler said she hopes the event will help the school’s transition process by creating a united front to show the new principal that students are ready to welcome him.

“We still have Kelsie Goodman as assistant principal, and now we’re getting this new person. I’m excited to see what they can do as a team,” she said.

“We really empower the students, so they’re very linked to their passions,” said Goodman.

“I think the event was a lot more successful than expected,” said Rios. “And there’s such a sense of fulfillment and joy that, as seniors, we’re leaving the school in great hands of the underclassmen and staff.”

Goodman was clearly moved by the students’ display of love. With tears in her eyes, she said, “I just want to say that it is so mutual.”

Thirty-some students showed up in the early morning to start cooking waffles for the event, she said.

“This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever been a part of in a school, and as an educator, I’ve been in school all my life,” Goodman said. “This community has given me way more than I’ve given it, and this is another example.”

“The fact that so many staff, students and community members have expressed concerns over the upcoming principal transition is a testament to how much we all care about the success of this school and our students,” Goodman wrote in a letter to the community. “We are such a dynamic and rapidly improving school: We construct solar arrays, we earn big scholarships, we prepare and graduate first-generation students, we create daring art, and we maximize opportunities for all our students.

“This community has given me the opportunity to grow and learn as a leader, and I plan to continue to do so in a position that I love.”

The event started at about 9:30 a.m., and by a little after 10 a.m. students were back to their classrooms. Full trays of leftover waffles were on their way to Carbondale Middle School, LIFT-UP and Jaywalker Lodge.

While a student uprising seems to have been averted, a school board meeting scheduled for April 12 in Carbondale may hear more voices on the school district’s principal selection.