Pawtucket Students Plan School Sit-In

The Providence Journal, page 19 – October 1, 1969

Students at Tolman High School in Pawtucket staged a sit-in in the principal’s office to show the school administration that they wanted their voices heard. The day before, 200 students walked out of school to protest rules against possessing tobacco products on the property.


School leaders offered the protesting students a deal that their parents would not be informed of their behavior if they served two weeks of detention. Most student did not accept this arrangement.

Students responded:

“I believe we shouldn’t be punished.”

“The teachers are not punished when they strike.”



Lincoln students have a voice

The Providence Journal, page B1 – May 20, 1974

The Lincoln Student School Committee was created in 1973 and is the only one of its kind in RI.

It was proposed by the student council to have this group of delegates attend the School Committee’s meetings.

The superintendent said that the student committee

“…definitely has opened a valuable avenue of communication.”

The Student Committee Chairman asserted that:

“Just the fact that we (the student school board) [exist] showed that we’re not all hoodlums.”

The Student School Committee focused on a variety of issues – they…

  1. Surveyed students around the state and in Massachusetts to get youth input on whether or not “no smoking” rules should be enforced.
  2. Circulated a survey to get feedback about an “open campus” to allow students to spend free time outside of the classroom.
  3. Advocated for mandatory meetings between students and guidance counselors.

The chairman of the student school board says that an important lesson he’s learned in his position is that “change takes time” – new ideas won’t take shape immediately. He also thinks that the Lincoln student school committee should be doing more to represent students in the middle and elementary grade levels. There is work being done to improve communication channels between these younger students and the high school representatives.

The student school committee is not elected by the student body at large, but rather by a elections board put together by the student council.

300 high school students walk out, are suspended in N. Providence

The Providence Journal, p. A5 – April 5th 1986

Seniors at North Providence spent a week organizing a one-day boycott of classes to protest school conditions and policies. The day of the demonstration, someone unexpectedly pulled the fire alarm, and everyone vacated the school. Only 250 students returned to class. The rest remained outside to prove their point. The students’ grievances were expressed during a meeting they held with school administrators before staging this protest. 

The student protesters expressed concerns about the following:

  • Elimination of early dismissal for seniors with a final period as a study hall.
  • Restroom conditions
  • Heating issues
  • Cafeteria overcrowding
  • Elimination of a student smoking room/prohibition of smoking on school property
  • The 18-Day Attendance Rule – the North Providence School Committee reduced the maximum amount of days students can be absent and still graduate from 40 to 18.


The youth involved were suspended and could only return to school once accompanied by a parent.