November 7, 2002

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Making noise in D.C.

YSHS student Aurianna Tuttle, left, McKinney School teacher Aurelia Blake and YSHS student Matt Wallace spoke with the Rev. Jesse Jackson before an anti-war rally in Washington, D.C., Saturday, Oct. 26.

By Matt Wallace

“Hey Matt, would you like to go to an anti-war march, in Washington, D.C.?”

“Sure, why not? I could drive the van down with some friends and march.”

This conversation sparked a chain reaction of random, experimental ideas about how to manage such a trip. Out of the flames of excitement rose the first draft of our grand plan.

Four weeks later, while loading two buses, I sensed excitement emanating like waves from the students. The whole trip down the student bus buzzed with activities. Each social group sat together while the age groups automatically organized themselves, youngest in the front and the older participants toward the back.

As we positioned ourselves to listen to the rally’s speakers, some students had the opportunity to meet, shake hands, and talk with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who received us with a proud smile and welcoming arms. All of the speakers spoke inspirational words as if they were filling the audience with hidden facts and encouraging truths about our nation’s government. Their words acted like dry wood on a hot fire. During the actual march, I felt overcome by the sheer magnitude of the masses. People from all walks of life were all pushing in the same direction, striving to reach the same goal of peace.

At the same time, one fact was deeply depressing if I stopped to think about it. Of all the people and groups we met and heard about on Saturday, Yellow Springs High School was the only organized high school presence. This scared me. One of the main reasons for going there was to show that the younger generation isn’t being fooled by the propaganda that the government has aimed at kids, using TV and other forms of distraction. But in the end, being the only high school group was O.K. because we let our presence be felt.

Sunday night, when the dust from our shoes had settled and our feet had finally stopped throbbing, I said to my mother, “Man, mom, that was deep.”

All of a sudden the phone rang and my mother picked it up. It was Ashlee Cooper, my co-organizer.

“Hey, there’s another anti-war rally in D.C., in January. We could get even more students together and go. What do you think? Are you down with that?”

•Matt Wallace is a senior at YSHS.

Trip ‘changed my life’

By Ashlee Cooper

When Matthew and I decided to charter two buses and transport people to Washington, D.C., for the anti-war on Iraq march, our purpose was to let our voices be heard. We both felt that our government misrepresented the feelings of American people who were against the war on Iraq. So we decided to organize the trip as our senior project.

As the Yellow Springs High School bus arrived in D.C., everyone was sound asleep, but awakened by a women’s voice stating that we had arrived. The high school students started packing their backpacks with junk food, pop and any other desirable treats and headed out onto the sidewalk where they were welcomed with protest signs. Once everyone had acquired signs, we walked down Constitution Avenue where the rally was planned for 11 a.m.

This was no hippie-festival. The people at the rally ranged from all types of ethnic backgrounds, religions and locations. It was great because everyone had the same purpose, which was coming together to fight for his or her beliefs that would one day change our future for the better.

The experience that I value the most was meeting Jesse Jackson and hearing him speak. Mr. Jackson was an extremely humbling man. He stood on the side of the stage crowded by several protesters, sharing words of wisdom. As I approached Mr. Jackson I was reluctant to hug him because I did not want to make him uncomfortable, but he grabbed my hand and said “girl, give me a hug.” We both exchanged smiles and he told me that he was proud of what I was doing. After he said this, I introduced myself and explained to him that Matthew and I had organized this for our senior project. He then told me that I should continue fighting for what I believed in.

When the dialogue ended I asked him if he would mind if I took a picture with him, to which he replied, “of course you can have a picture with me.” When I walked away from Mr. Jackson I thought to myself, “he is a great man.”

The experience of going to Washington has changed my life and will forever change the way I feel about human rights. I came away knowing for sure that I will one day impact people’s lives for the better, the same way that this whole experience has changed mine.

•Ashlee Cooper is a senior at Yellow Springs High School.