Hundreds of high school students join protests at Capitol

2011-03-10T13:20:00Z 2011-07-05T18:09:06Z Hundreds of high school students join protests at CapitolMATTHEW DeFOUR | | 608-252-6144

Hundreds of students at multiple Madison middle and high schools walked out of class Thursday to participate in protests at the state Capitol.

And students are planning another walkout for 2 p.m. Friday, organizer and East High School senior Jesse Banks said.

"There's been a lot of claims that we're wasting educational times and the student walkouts are counterproductive," Banks said. In response, the walkout is scheduled during the last hour and is expected to include a rally at Library Mall where high school students will discuss a Republican bill that dismantles public sector employee collective bargaining.

"The plan is to use it as a tool for education," Banks said.

Banks joined about 600 students who walked out of East High School around 10 a.m. Thursday to join protests of Assembly action on the collective bargaining bill, which was passed unexpectedly by the Senate Wednesday night.

East High principal Mary Kelley said she cautioned students about going to the Capitol because she expected it to be a different climate than three weeks ago when about 800 East students walked out and joined the protests following introduction of the bill.

"The emotions are so much higher," Kelley said. "There are very, very angry people and I don't want my kids to be in the middle of the volatility."

Kelley said she encouraged students to have their parents come and take them to the Capitol if possible, though most decided to go there on their own.

As many as 800 West High School students also marched to the Capitol around 10 a.m., senior Jacob Fiksel said.

They marched up State Street and rallied outside that entrance to the Capitol.

The event was organized through posters at the school and on Facebook. They said they plan to return to school around 2 p.m.

"People are really upset that the Republican senators passed this bill illegally — they did not give 24 hours notice," Fiksel said. "We feel like it's a slap in the face."

Teachers stayed in their classrooms, he added.

District spokesman Ken Syke confirmed some students walked out at Hamilton Middle School. He said the reported numbers were small and that classes continued as usual otherwise.

"These are not school-sponsored activities, so the students are on their own," Syke said.

Hamilton eighth-grader Jack Becker spoke to a crowd of hundreds of protesters outside the Capitol.

"I want to be part of stopping this," he said, adding that the students at the rally were excused from class by their parents.

— State Journal reporter Dean Mosiman contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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