Students protest bonfire cancellation

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As the administration looked on, a group of students laid down pieces of wood on the school emblem in protest against the cancellation of this year’s Homecoming bonfire.

The protest occurred on Thursday, September 27 where, just before first block, spectators saw more than a dozen students contribute to a pile of wood in front of the office.

Onlookers watching the protest claimed that the students were “making fools of themselves,” while others voiced praise, saying, “Good for them.”

There were a total of seventeen pieces of wood, much less than expected, each with writing on it describing the student’s reason for wanting a bonfire.

Student Body President Garrett Finn didn’t seem phased by the small turnout.

“It doesn’t really matter,” said Finn. “If only one person turned out to do it, it would have been a success.”

According to multiple students who participated in the protest, the goal was to have their concerns acknowledged, something they thought was absent when the decision to cancel the bonfire was made.

“I interpret this as a group of students who would like to be heard,” said Principal Glenn Hard, looking at the demonstration. “So, my reaction is to meet with Student Council… so I can listen and, perhaps, come up with an alternative activity [to the bonfire].”

Read more about Hard’s meeting with Student Council.

The bonfire was cancelled on Monday, Sept. 24 after a meeting took place between Hard, Dean of Students Jesse Hull, Director of Building and Grounds Dan Gieck, as well as a representative from the Manitou Springs Fire Department and Sgt. Gillis.

Manitou Springs Fire Chief Keith Buckmiller said that not only would the department be happy to help with the bonfire, but they also see it as a way for the community to recover and get back to normalcy. Buckmiller also said that, just like any other year, it would pose no threat to vegetation or peoples’ lives and property.

“The fire department was on board. They gave us the green light,” said Hard. “But, collectively, we decided it’s just not worth it to take the risk.”

“The thing that I don’t want it to come across as is that we made a decision based on public perception,” said Hard.

Of course, all of this comes on the heels of the Waldo Canyon Fire, the worst wildfire in Colorado’s history.

“There’s always been a risk,” said Finn. “Not having it and cancelling because of fear of our public perception is… selfish for the school to do.”

Prior to the student protest on Thursday, Hard and the administration had already been receiving blowback from the community after their decision.

“I’ve got parents emailing me and calling me saying, ‘Why would you do this to my kid? He’s a senior…’ The answer’s simple. I couldn’t imagine what we would feel like… if we decided to have a bonfire, three months after Waldo Canyon, and it got away from us.”

By Keegan Bockhorst