Students rally for change

Strasburg High School students line up along South Holliday Street on an early April morning to express their feelings about the “walking-on-eggshells” atmosphere at school after several students were disciplined following a Dec. 19, 2015, incident on a school bus carrying members of the boys basketball team. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – A dozen Strasburg High School students braved the cold weather on Wednesday morning to stage a peaceful rally to demonstrate their thoughts on the charged atmosphere at their school in the wake of a bus incident in which several teens were charged with assault by mob.

Greg Jenkins, the father of a Strasburg High School student, said students are “walking on eggshells” and both students and teachers are unhappy with how the mood at school has changed since the bus incident.

In January, police were alerted to possible student misconduct on a school bus carrying the high school’s boys junior varsity and varsity basketball teams from a game in Moorefield, West Virginia, on Dec. 19.  Since then, seven students have been charged with assault by mob and disciplined by the School Board.  Three students have been recommended for expulsion.  The School Board hired an attorney to investigate the incident for a federal Title IX report, and last week the School Board filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Timothy C. Carter, demanding that he let School Board members view video that was taken during the bus trip.

Jenkins noted that Wednesday’s demonstration, held off school property near the school, had “nothing to do with the bus incident and was about the kids wanting to be heard about how the environment is at the school.”

Gage Tefft, 18, of Strasburg, said he wants to see students happy again.

“We want to get our school back to the way it was,” he said. “And have the Ram pride that was there and have it restored.”

He added that a friend of his who was on the school bus but hasn’t been charged has not returned to school.

“We would like to see him back in school,” he said.

Jenkins’ son Garrett, 16, added, “We want to prove our point and get our point across that the learning environment is just crumbling at our school and we just want to try to get it back to the way it was.”

He said the students are “scared that they’ll be in trouble for anything that they do. If they just walk down the hall just to give somebody a high-five they are afraid they could get suspended.”

Satchel Roller, 14, of Toms Brook, echoed the views of Teft and Garrett Jenkins.

“We’re just not comfortable with how the administration and how the School Board is handling things. We’re kind of tired of everything being done the way it is and we’re upset that one of our friends is suspended,” he said.

“A bunch of community members have expressed the same feelings that we have,” Satchel said, adding that a couple of weeks ago they held a similar demonstration and have worn T-shirts advocating their cause.

As the students held up a sign that read “School Board Want The Truth? Ask Us,” motorists driving by honked their car horns and gave thumbs-up in support.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com