Big Sky High Students Stage Walkout over Otter Creek Coal

“We, as students from Big Sky High School, do not want our school funding to come from coal,” said Allison Lawrence, one of the protesters at the rally. “We would rather live with old books than get blood money for shiny new computers.”

by JC

This came across my email via the Missoula Community News listserve:


MISSOULA – Several dozen Big Sky High School seniors took their opposition to an eastern Montana coal mining project to the next level by walking out of class to protest.

As many as 100 students left class before the end of school on Tuesday to protest the State Land Board’s recent decision to lease the Otter Creek coal tracts.

The grassroots environmental group Northern Rockies Rising Tide took pictures as the students carried home-made signs and marched down South Avenue to Reserve Street.

Protesters say that money from the Otter Creek leases is supposed to support public schools but it’s “unclear” whether the money will be directly used that way.

Go Big Sky High!!!

  1. It’s nice to see students taking an interest in what’s going on in their community.

  2. Franco

    I guess that “Story of Stuff” movie worked! Huzzah!

    • JC

      You got something against people exercising their first amendment rights?

      • Franco

        You are barking up the wrong tree my friend.

      • Franco

        And besides, since the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” (aka Morse v. Frederick) ruling, I’m not sure how 1st Amendment Rights apply to young citizens in high school, nor the legal parameters of said young person’s expression of those rights. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you or I are for or against, I guess.

        • JC

          They weren’t in school. They walked out. For which I’m sure most of them will get detention, or whatever sort of thing the VP decides.

          You got a problem with kids skipping school, that’s one thing. But they don’t leave their first amendments aside when they hit the streets.

          • Franco

            I don’t have a problem with what the kids said or did, nor do I claim they do not have the right to do what they did.

          • JC

            Then there’s no relation to the Bong hits for Jesus case.

          • Franco

            Why no relation to the SCOTUS case, I wonder?

          • JC

            The ruling about Bong Hits was about drugs. And about a student on a school-sponsored outing. The Big Sky walkout had nothing to do with those two issues.

          • Franco

            Gotcha, I think. So the ruling sez as long as you don’t speak about Jesus and drugs within the confines of something resembling a school sponsored function you might be okay if you wish to express yourself on certain topics. Land O’ the free, Home O’ the Brave. What else is there to talk about, really? On another note, these kids give me hope, especially with what went down with the whole “Story of Stuff” movie thing last year in that school. This must be sitting pretty hard in what’s-his-name-concerned-parent-dude’s head — if only these children had been exposed to a “balanced” perspective in class, they might have been alright with raping N’ pillaging! It is SO unfair. I’m glad that at least some young people see these sorts of ploys for what they are and I hope they never, ever forget.

  3. Nice. I’m encouraged to see today’s youth looking at protecting Montana’s future.

    Several of these young adults testified at the December State Land Board hearing where the Otter Creek sale was approved. There were treated to a 3-minute time limit on their testimony while Great Northern (the hopeful coal lessee) was allowed to ramble on and on.

    On the other hand, they did witness greatness in politics, with Denise Juneau, State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Land Board member. She listened thoughtfully to the lengthy amount of testimony and provided a well-reasoned explaination of her “NO” vote to Otter Creek – explaining that the responsibility is not in the short term and just to revenue, but to the long term gains and protection of our clean and healthful environment, guaranteed to Montanans by our very own state constitution.

    Juneau’s statement can be read here. I strongly recommend that everyone read it.

    (A big thanks to Button Valley for leading us to Juneau’s statement….and to MEIC and the Northern Plains Resource Council for all the very hard work that they do.)

  4. When I think NPRC, I think heroes for montana!
    Without their work decades ago, john prine might have been singing about our state instead of kentucky… Now we have a governor here who seems to be ok with letting them “…haul it all away.”

  5. pj

    I tip my hat to these students. Thanks for the post JC.

  6. Thomas Paine

    Now the next step is to get them registered to vote and to teach them how to bring increased political pressure to bear on any politician who sells them out – and there’s no shortage of those in this state.

  7. This is encouraging, as it could be the beginning of organization. However, I disagree that we need to get them registered to vote and to teach them how to bring increased political pressure to bear on any politician who sells them out… the whole point of this type of action is to bring pressure to bear without having it filtered and neutered by the parties.

    More power to them, and stay away from Democrats!

    • JC

      It’s not the beginning of “organization.” It is the result of organizing.

      • That’s ludicrous. If organizing walkouts and protests was effective, the Vietnam War would have ended in 1967 instead of 1967.

        If this act has in meaning, it is the organizing activity that follows. Otherwise, it is pointless.

      • JC

        It was the organizing work of Northern Rockies Rising Tide that helped the students with their walkout. That’s all I’m saying. It is part of their concerted effort to get people involved in climate change and crony capitalism issues.

        But to your point, if there weren’t the protests and walkouts of the 60’s and 70’s, the war may not have ended in ’75 either–it could have kept on until Nixon started WWIII in SE Asia.

        In any case, I hope the students at Big Sky High continue to stay involved with the issues. It’s a great way to get educated about the real world.

        • problembear

          looks like a great site jc. i checked them out. do they have a twitter account?

        • NRRT didn’t organize the Big Sky walkout, no way, no how. NRRT was invited to speak to the students and one of the things we spoke to them about was the Otter Creek issue. The students then asked us to assist them with some of the media tasks associated with their walkout, and only some.

          This action was conceived, organized, and carried out almost entirely by the students themselves.

        • JC

          I only said helped. I didn’t mean to imply that it was your event. In any case, thanks for all you guys are doing!

        • That’s ludicrous, which I am adopting as your middle. name. By 1975 Nixon had ended the draft, and college protests had stopped. The war itself was won, that is, the country was utterly devastated any stone-aged, with a 25 year embargo to follow.

          What did all the protests accomplish? They made Hubert H. Humphrey, the Democrat candidate, look like a tool. He was. That was a valid accomplishment.

          But that is all.

          • JC

            Your historical revisionism doesn’t cut the mustard. Nixon didn’t end the draft. In fact, he extended the draft in 1971 by two years, when it was set to expire.

            If you don’t think the protests had anything to do with helping the war to end, you’re entitled to your opinion, but not to change the fact that most responsible historians credit the protest movement of the 60’s and early 70’s helped to bring the Vietnam war to an end. And without that movement, the war could have lingered and spread.

        • I’ll make my reply by posting a new comment, since I hope it applies to all.

  8. Wow, racey stuff. Am I still relevant? I was born in Missoula, BA Botany UM, MS Soils MSU, 3.84 gpa, 8 years hard core biology, chemistry, math, <$3,000/yr paid 3 degrees for by GI Bill from volunteering for Vietnam infantry, risked my life for a quality education, which you won't get from books alone. My first science job SCS, my work record traded for sex offers. I last worked at Big Sky High on the strength of an MCSE, 4.5 years, just short of retirement vesting, most spent listening to rot like the Big Stinkk dragging the best teachers, such as Dave Burtch, thru the mud and ripping out their software, claiming they were watching pornography on shares I set up for the software required for instruction. Of course, if they'd been looking at their own server, they'd have known who was really looking at the porn, and also known enough to face the truth of and prevent the rape of the daughter of a long term family friend by a staff member. Oh, yeah, I'll never forget the one admin lackey's constant bragging, between gulps of mashed potatoes and jelly bismarks during ISC meetings, about his favorite porn being made for use in public schools. Nor does it take an Albert Einstein to draw a bead on who's distributing cocaine in the area. The students are a different story – they're most extremely on top of things, super honest, hearts of gold, and if they don't determine the future of Montana, no one will. But what would I know?

  1. 1 Will Otter Creek Coal Become More Corporate Welfare? « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Coal Council) and the only likely leaser (Great Northern/Arch Coal) were allowed to ramble on. Watch the video in JC’s post on Otter Creek to hear what one opponent had to say about that […]

  2. 2 Does Coal Cash Turn Protestors into Hippiecrites? | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Big Sky High Students Stage Walkout over Otter Creek Coal […]

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