By SCOTT PESZNECKER
and the Associated Press
As 17-year-old Alicia Williams of Murphys got ready for school yesterday morning, she watched on TV as thousands of other students around the country walked out of classes to protest the possible war with Iraq.
"So I thought this would be a good day to say something," said the Bret Harte High School senior.
Williams and about 30 schoolmates did just that.
The Bullfrogs contingent from freshmen to seniors stood mostly on the east side of Highway 49 near the high school, rallying for a peaceful end to escalating tensions in the Middle East.
The Angels Camp gathering was part of what students were calling "National Walkout Day."
Before the protests started yesterday, the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition estimated that tens of thousands of students at more than 350 high schools, colleges and universities had pledged to join in walkouts. The coalition had no estimate yesterday about how many students actually took part.
Bret Harte High School was not among the 350 schools that had pledged to walk out.
That's because the Bullfrogs' protest was planned by students at school, less than two hours before they left campus about 10 a.m.
Arnold resident Meghann Browning, 17, said she was in her second-period economics class when a classmate stood up and announced plans for the protest.
Browning, a senior, took part at the Feb. 15 peace march in Sonora.
"I thought, Why not do this one?' " she said. "I want to do all I can to get the point out."
The Bret Harte students hoisted handmade signs, chanted, sang songs and flashed peace signs to passing drivers. Many people honked in acknowledgement.
"There is always an alternative solution (to war)," said senior Traci Chee, 17, of Angels Camp. "This is a great way to let other people who want peace know that they're not alone."