Groups of students at both San Ramon high schools rallied peacefully on Thursday afternoon in the wake of this week's presidential election.
About 130 students participated in a walk-out at California High School, marching with signs and chants for a half-hour up to San Ramon City Hall, where they rallied against bigotry toward minority groups.
At crosstown Dougherty Valley High School, about 60 students gathered on the quad in separate groups expressing opposing views on President-elect Donald Trump during a lunch-period protest with signs and chanting, according to school district spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich.
The two rallies, which each involved less than 5% of the respective school's student population, ended peacefully and without incident, Graswich said. The Dougherty Valley students returned to class after the lunch bell rang, while the Cal High rally featured students walking off campus during class time.
"We prefer that our students stay in class, but we understand and respect their desire to make their voices heard in a peaceful manner," Graswich said. "We teach the historic importance of political protest, critical thinking and advocacy, so it's important that we also respect our students' right to express themselves."
The rallies at the San Ramon high schools came on the same day as large- and small-scale student protests occurring after the national election in other parts of the Bay Area, in cities like San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, San Jose, Walnut Creek, Concord and Napa.
The group of Cal High students, which represented about 4.5% of the school's student population, walked off campus around 1:20 p.m., shortly after the end-of-lunch bell rang.
The teens gathered outside the campus before beginning the 1.5-mile walk to City Hall, marching on the sidewalk up Broadmoor Drive, over onto Montevideo Drive and then along the Iron Horse Regional Trail before assembling outside City Hall on Bollinger Canyon Road.
As they walked, the students cheered and joined in chants such as "love trumps hate" and "ain't no power like the power of the people because the power of the people won't stop."
San Ramon police officers, along with principal Sarah Cranford and a couple school administrators, followed the Cal High students to help ensure safety. Cranford declined to comment on the rally, deferring questions to district spokeswoman Graswich.
"Our top priority is to make sure our students are safe; and therefore staff and San Ramon Police monitored the protest," Graswich said.
Student leaders who spoke when the Cal High group arrived at City Hall said their intent wasn't to protest that the Republican Trump was elected president, but rather to speak out against their feeling that Trump's candidacy has led to some white Americans feeling more comfortable with expressing hateful sentiments toward minority groups during and after the election.
They said they wanted the San Ramon community to know they think it's unacceptable for people to express racist, homophobic, misogynistic, anti-Muslim or other discriminatory actions and remarks.
The group cheered and chanted at times while assembled at City Hall, also taking a moment to publicly thank their San Ramon police escorts.
Students also held a couple dozen signs with phrases such as "Students against bigotry," "Hate prevents unity," "Love trumps hate" and "Muslim lives matter." There were also a couple anti-election posters such as "Trump is not my president" and "Dump Trump."
Rallying at a visible spot along Bollinger Canyon Road, the students received some honks of support from cars driving by, and a handful of people walking by or across the street at The Marketplace shopping center stopped by the protest and snapped photographs.
San Ramon Mayor Bill Clarkson also stepped outside his City Hall office to observe the student rally.
"It's America, which means people get to say what they want to say," Clarkson said, pointing out that he took part in some civil rights rallies as a student in the late 1960s. "Whether you agree or disagree, the beauty is that people get to do this without fear of retribution."
The scene at Dougherty Valley High was shorter and smaller.
The protest there, which featured about 2% of the student population, lasted only during the lunch period but did feature students for and against Trump, according to Graswich. "It was respectful, and students returned to class when the bell rang for lunch to be over," she said.