Student Alumni form Eagan Callout

Dani Fraher, News Writer

Can young people change the world? Can they make their community better for those within it? For Eagan High School, it might not be a question of “can” but rather “when and how”—which can be answered by the Eagan Callout movement. 


This summer, Eagan alumni Nautica Flowers, from the Class of 2018, started a student and alumn movement against Eagan High School and the racism that they, and countless other Black students have faced. “I started [the callout] in response to unfair treatment that I was experiencing as an alumni, and I opened the door to see if other people were experiencing similar things,” explains Flowers. “As soon as I started getting a lot of reports about teachers and faculty and situations, my immediate goal was to ensure that the upcoming school year would be as safe as possible for students and to attempt to receive justice for the students who had already graduated.”


The Callout has five overall demands and 27 specific asks detailing how Eagan can grant justice to and improve the lives of its students. The first demand is to fire Dr. Reikowski and her administration for the mishandling of student cases; the second to abolish ISS completely and divest in SROs; the third to replace abusive staff with qualified teachers of color; the fourth to require consistent diversity and sensitivity training, and the fifth to reform the curriculum and punish misinformation. You can view these demands yourself on their Instagram: @eagancallout.


The Eagan Callout gained support almost immediately upon its Instagram’s creation in late June and now has almost a thousand followers. It has organized three protests already, and currently, Flowers and her team have been taking time out of their days to meet with district officials and do work behind the scenes.


“There’s been a lot of parent support. There’s been a lot of community support. We’ve had a great relationship with the media, who have been really interested in this story. We’ve been working with other states. We have an entire coalition of about 50 schools in Minnesota that all work together,” explains Flowers. “Laurie Halverson was in a meeting with us a couple of days ago, showing support. Everybody but the administration and the district have been supportive.”


The Callout’s relationship with the school is nonexistent, although they’ve tried to form one. “We asked to have a meeting with them to go over the accusations, to go over the testimonies that we had collected—there are over one hundred of them—and the district canceled our meeting a couple of hours before it was supposed to happen. They basically told us they didn’t want to work with us anymore,” states Flowers.


Eagan High School declared an anti-racism mission of its own this summer, creating nine goals which can be found on the new school website. But these goals copy many of the demands and asks of the Callout and don’t give any credit to or even acknowledge the movement. As Flowers puts it, it’s whitewashing history. Furthermore, Flowers points out, “In our meeting a couple of days ago with the parents and community members, they said that their nine goals are just goals. They’re not actions. They’ve solidified nothing.”


So far, Eagan has hired Harry Sonie as the new Student Support Specialist and Michael Walker as the equity trainer for teachers. It’s unclear whether Sonie will be someone students can report injustice to and expect action from regarding said injustice, and it’s unclear how often staff will be training and working with Walker. Dr. Polly Reikowski also posted a Schoology update on September 9th that the school has changed In-School Suspension, or ISS, in that they have reduced the number of offenses and altered the overall structure. She did not specify how the structure of ISS was changed.


Another thing that Eagan has organized are listening circles or listening sessions, but the Callout was not invited to speak or give input. “[The school] emailed everybody at the beginning of our [first] protest… None of my team got invited to any of them. Not an email, not a call, nothing,” explains Flowers. None of the team’s parents nor siblings received an invitation either.


Eagan has had listening sessions on other issues before, many of which Flowers has attended, and not much comes from them. This is why, they say, “we started our meeting with the superintendents by saying, ‘We don’t want you to say, “We just want to listen to you.”’ That’s not what we want.”


“I don’t really think any of [our demands] will be met in all honesty,” admits Flowers. They have been grappling with the school district since they were in seventh grade—nine years. “So, for me, this was never about the school’s response because I already knew they weren’t going to do anything… For me, I knew that I was not going to get the changes that I’m asking for because the changes I’m asking for are expensive to make…


“What it was about was showing the community and showing young students and showing alumni that they have the right to ask for these things, that they have the power to demand these things; reminding them that they’re tax-payers; reminding them that none of this exists without them; reminding them that their teachers and their administration exist to serve them, that they are not the employees to their teachers, their teachers are the employees to them…


“It was also about validating the trauma and the stories that were confided in me. This is the worst part: I had so many people telling me these horrible, horrible experiences of things that happened to them by Eagan High School teachers and faculty and then immediately following their story up with, ‘I’m sure it’s probably not a big deal, though’… all of these experiences are things that happened to children…


“It’s not about, ‘Once they don’t meet our demands, we give up.’ It’s all about the next group of students who are going to graduate and say they want to make change, and then the next group of students, and the next group of students, and the kids within the school. It’s all about them now understanding that they do have the power to do something like this whenever they want…


“For me, it was always about empowering people, making sure they didn’t have the experiences I had, and when they were having these experiences, that they were listened to and someone was there to tell them that they didn’t deserve that treatment.”


If you want to help the Callout with its mission, follow and be active on their Instagram as listed above. They do take Venmo donations if you’re willing to give, and you are welcome to DM them to ask what they need done. “All the hands on deck that we can get are very appreciated,” says Flowers. “Sometimes we might not have anything, but it’s the thought that counts as well.”


Keep up the conversation. What some may regard as “Instagram drama” is so much more than that. It’s students, parents, and alumni fighting for concrete change. If the momentum keeps up and people keep paying attention, that change could be now.