While many teens learn to “just say no” to drugs, Annelise Eeman and more than 20 other seventh- and eighth-graders at St. Louis Park [Minn.] Junior High are teaching another “no”—against war.
Eeman, a confirmand at Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Hopkins, Minn., was among students suspended for walking out of school March 20. The students were warned about the suspension and told they’d be expelled if they re-entered the building.
In a March 21 letter to the principal, Eeman wrote: “I thought about what my mom and dad would say if I ruined my spotless record, and then something said to me, ‘This is your decision. No matter what your folks say, you’ll know you did the right thing.’ ”
At lunch the students prayed for courage, she said, adding, “As we prayed, I felt something inside of me.” That something gave her courage to go out into the cold and rain with a hastily scribbled “No war” poster. The group chanted: “No more war! War is murder!” while other classmates cheered. Onlookers responded to a sign that said “Honk if you hate war.”
“A lot of elderly people honked because they’ve been through wars,” Eeman said. “All teens and people 29 and under honked too.” But of drivers aged 30 to 55, she said, one person “told us that we were ‘too young and immature to understand this war.’
“We understand our punishment, but given a second chance to walk out or not, we would have, even if we were to be expelled. Students are the future of America. What future do you want?”
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers