organize trip to join demonstration
our turn to speak up
students Matt Wallace and Ashlee Cooper organized a trip for 94
students and local residents to join an anti-war demonstration in
On Friday, Oct. 25,
94 Yellow Springs High School students and local residents will board
two charter buses bound for an anti-war rally in Washington, D.C. What
makes this trip different is that it was organized by two YSHS seniors,
Matt Wallace and Ashlee Cooper.
The trip is both students senior project, which, Cooper said, they
wanted to be something more meaningful than the quick and
easy projects some people do.
Wallace and Cooper worked to get youth organized on every level. Wallace
wrote a commentary for the Yellow Springs News and spoke at the Not
In Our Name peace rally downtown two weeks ago. Wallace and Cooper
passed out leaflets and placed a sign-up table in the high school cafeteria,
an effort that resulted in enough reservations (which cost $57 a person)
to fill a bus full of high school students. Local adults will fill a second
There are young people who know whats going on, Wallace
said, explaining that even youth are able to read between the lines when
it comes to the possible war in Iraq. This shows how much people
care about this issue. And while the students and adults may be on two
different buses, were [all] riding with the same views in mind.
Cooper, who is 17, is a National Merit Scholar semifinalist. Wallace,
18, is a member of the YSHS boys varsity soccer team and was crowned Homecoming
king this fall.
Wallace came up with the idea to organize Yellow Springs youth around
preventing another war in Iraq as he watched the evening news with his
mother, Aurelia Blake. Matt was asking what is going on here?
Why are people putting up with this? said Blake, who teaches
language arts at the McKinney School. One thing led to another,
and I said, wouldnt it be cool if you did something?
Wallace, who just recently registered his Selective Service information,
took the idea to heart and turned it into his senior project. A few days
later, Cooper talked to Wallace about the idea and decided to help him
with the daunting task of getting one-sixth of their entire high school
on a bus.
It was always in the back of my head, it might not work, Wallace
said about the first few days of organizing.
Although many people initially signed up for the protest, most students
were not sure if they could actually make the trip because of time constraints
and concerns about money. Once we extended the deadline, the reservations
and donations started pouring in, Cooper said.
With Blakes help, Cooper and Wallace opened a bank account under
the name of Voice of the People to handle all the contributions.
It seemed like for a while, I was handing over $600 twice a day
to my mom to deposit, Wallace said.
Some parents and interested village residents who couldnt attend
themselves made donations. The largest donation came from one person who
donated $171 to reserve three seats. Thats a lot of money
to just donate to someone else, said Wallace.
Some students paid out of their own pockets. Cooper and Wallace described
a tense moment when their friend Aurianna Tuttle handed them her $57,
which was everything in her wallet.
The plan is to leave on Friday night, join the anti-war protest on Saturday
and return to Yellow Springs on Sunday afternoon. The bus fare only covers
the rental price and gas. Thanks to the generosity of donors, Cooper and
Wallace received enough money to reserve motel rooms for the bus drivers
and buy them dinner.
Wallace and Cooper will document the entire weekend on film and video
and present their project to teachers and students at the high school
Besides the logistical problems and stress both have experienced while
working on the project, the students have had to make some sacrifices.
Wallace, a member of the YSHS boys varsity soccer team, will miss the
Division III District final game against Springfield Catholic Central
because he will be on the trip. When asked about this, he seemed to shrug
it off, explaining that the D.C. demonstration was much more important.
In a way, it feels like when our parents went to Washington because
of the Vietnam War, Wallace said, This is so important and
now its our turn.
Cooper agreed. Our government isnt representing us,
she said. We ought to do something about it.
Michael Hogan Jr.