Hundreds of Pocatello and Highland high school students marched out of class to protest crowded conditions, following the rejection of a $38.4 million bond.
The dramatic walkout Friday occurred after patrons shot down the proposal to build two new high schools and remodel Highland.
Many Highland students walked or took part in a motor parade to Pocatello High. By 10:30 a.m., more than 1,000 students filled the Pocatello High auditorium where school officials heard their complaints.
About 20 police officers escorted the Highland students across town.
“Our primary concern was for their safety. We didn’t want anyone getting hurt,” Police Capt. Mike Stayner said.
Many students carried signs with slogans such as “God help the children. Heaven knows the community won’t” and “Welcome to Pocatello High where the 19th Century Lives.”
Students defied threats of truancies and denial of classroom credit for the day. Most of them said it was worth it.
“They intend to use this school until it falls down. It isn’t fair and it isn’t right,” Pocatello High senior class president Amber Rickard said.
Mikki Chacon, a Highland senior class leader, praised the unity of the students. “For years the City Council and the administrators have been trying to get Highland and Poky to do something together peacefully. It’s about damn time they did it.”
Rumors persisted the protest was organized by teachers, but Pocatello High Principal Carole McWilliam said that she tried to talk student leaders out of the walkout.
“Now is not the time to further alienate the people of our community concerning public schools,” her statement said.
Superintendent David Peck said he hoped to channel the students’ energy into an appropriate fashion.
“The students are obviously frustrated and the administration and faculty of the schools tried to convince them that there were more appropriate ways to respond to this. We’re going to try and turn this into a learning situation,” Peck said.