“It’s a really powerful message”: Principal Jaeger talks walkouts, protests


    Students at the Feb 21 walkout.

    Reporters Kylee McCloney and Ciashe Vang sat down with Principal Natalie Jaeger on the day of the Feb 21 protest against gun violence in schools. Here’s what she had to say.

    Big Sky Sun Journal: Do you know what exactly was going on for the protest?


    Natalie Jaeger: Hellgate students were protesting too, I think it was a nationwide protest just like there are on March 14th and April 20th against violence in schools.


    SJ: How do you feel about it?


    NJ: I think it’s important for students to speak up about school safety.  I think it’s probably time. So I support students taking ownership and leadership in school for school safety.


    SJ: Do you think this was the best way they could’ve done that or do you think there are other ways that would’ve been better?


    NJ: I think there’s always a lot of different ways but sometimes I think in social change it just takes someone getting started.  And so I think the important thing is that it is youth organized and youth driven. And that is so different than the adults telling everybody what to do.  I think it’s more powerful. I think more people are listening because the youth are speaking out, young people are speaking out about the safety of their schools.  I think youth care all the time about the quality of their schools and the safety of their schools and so I think it’s a really powerful message when we have young people speaking out about it.


    SJ: Do you know who organized it?


    NJ:I don’t actually, I had some students come to tell me.  I knew that there were walkouts, I’ve seen them on Facebook, on the 14th and April 20th.  I did not know about today until this morning. Two students came to me and told me.


    SJ: How important do you think this is for everyone?


    NJ: Gosh, I think it’s really important.  I mean I work at a school every single day and so when we talk about school safety it’s not just student safety, it’s also staff safety.  And my family worries about me just like your families worry about you. And whenever there is a school shooting, personally I just feel kind of sick to my stomach, whenever there is one because I worry about the students here, I worry about the staff here.  My own son is a student here and my family worries about me because usually the principle is hurt in school shootings and so my family worries about me when there is school shootings. And so I do think its time and I’m grateful that students are speaking out.