At 9 a.m. on Friday, August 31, the day of the highly-anticipated Chamblee vs. Dunwoody varsity football game, several students assembled on the practice field to show their support for Chamblee Charter High School’s teacher and athletic coach, Curtis Mattair.
Mattair was put on administrative leave one week prior to the peaceful protest due to a controversy surrounding some shirts that he had made for his boys’ football and girls’ soccer teams, which contained an acronym that was thought to have an unsavory meaning. For more information, please see the article “DBNP Shirts Spark Controversy at CCHS” on the Blue & Gold website.
Many of Mattair’s students and players were unhappy with the potential loss of their coach.
“What they did to Coach Mattair was wrong,” said sophomore and football player Brayson Seaborn. “It wasn’t really his fault. DBNP doesn’t mean anything negative; it’s for the players and it’s a positive movement.”
On the morning of the walkout, football players were called down to the cafeteria by principal Rebecca Braaten. There, she informed the team that Mattair was actually going to be reinstated that very day at 10 a.m..
Braaten also let them know that she had heard about plans for the walkout, and would still allow it to occur.
“She asked us if we still wanted to do the walkout, and we said yes, because it’s bigger than just the football team,” said Aaron Harding.
After hearing this news, however, not all students were as eager to participate in the protest. While the students do still support Mattair, the reasons for the walkout became less clear.
“It’s not relevant,” said senior Thomas Wilson. “If it’s for him, and he’s coming back, then why does it really matter?”
Despite a lesser amount of support, a protest still occurred at 9 a.m., as scheduled. Many still believed that something should be done about what happened to Mattair.
“He’s my coach, and I just wanted to support him,” said Seaborn.
Unfortunately, the protest did not go exactly as planned. After only 10 minutes of being outside, and before anyone began to speak about Mattair, the students were sent inside.
“I talked to Ms. Braaten and she said that we have to wrap it up, so that’s what I did,” said football coach Byron Walker.
Assistant Principal Clifton Spears commented that the abrupt termination of the walkout was simply due to the fact that students needed to return to class.
“We weren’t going to let them stay out here all day,” said Spears.