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Gahanna Lincoln Student Body President stands up to board of education

Jason Raymond, 17, told the board of education, Thursday night, “the only thing stopping us is you right now. You, the board.”

GAHANNA, Ohio — A single yellow rose carries with it the heavy petals of friendship, joy and gladness. This story is about giving all those things at a time when most aren’t willing to give.

“We don’t praise people for getting half their job done,” Jason Raymond said. “We praise people for getting through to the end.”

Fed up with the district and the teachers at odds over student safety, the Gahanna Lincoln senior and student body president hopped on the district’s board of education Zoom meeting, Thursday night.

"What I’ve gathered from my fellow peers, my fellow students and my fellow teachers is that the only thing stopping us is you right now,” he said to the board.

“It’s the only voice that’s going to insinuate any movement,” Raymond told 10TV, Friday.

Raymond says it’s the student; the one thing both sides say they are advocating for that means the most.

Credit: Jason Raymond

“I’m watching all these people out on these streets,” Raymond said of teachers on strike. “So many people hurt and confused and lost and it would be wrong of me to not use my voice.”

Raymond and his fellow students supported teachers this week by protesting in their honor. He says teachers have given up so much in the pursuit of “the right thing.”

“Nobody wakes up at six or seven a.m. and gets their lawn chair and sits out here protesting for eight hours a day for nothing,” he said.

The most important tests, he says, are not solving for “X” and not writing that 3,000 word essay. The most important tests, he says, are the lessons learned along the way.

Lessons learned from his teachers.

“I’m the person I am because of my teachers,” an emotional Raymond told board members, Thursday. “My teachers have molded and shaped me to be the person that I am today.”

A plea to those in power to listen. A plea heard by Superintendent Steve Barrett.

“I know that we have let you down,” Barrett told Raymond. “And, we need to do better.”

Many board members acknowledged Raymond’s moving speech and thanked him for his participation.

“Really having my education back [and] the school having their education back is going to be the biggest thank you,” Raymond said to board members. “Having our teachers back is going to be a bigger thank you than anything you can really, quite honestly, say to me, right now.”

Raymond continues to support the teachers. He and other students bring water and donuts. Friday, as an extra “Thank You,” he brought teachers a yellow rose. Giving friendship, joy and gladness at a time when, he knows, it’s hard to come by.