Fairbanks and North Pole students stage walkout, rally against proposed education cuts
An estimated 460 middle- and high-school students in Fairbanks and North Pole walked out of their classes Friday afternoon to rally against proposed cuts to education funding, according to staff with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.
District staff described the walkout as peaceful, organized and unprecedented. They said the students were protesting the elimination of school programs and teacher jobs, particularly in music and arts.
"I've been here nine years and I've never seen anything like this before," Richard Smith, principal at North Pole Middle School, said in a phone interview Friday. Smith said about 150 of the school's 650 students in grades six through eight quietly left the building around 1:30 p.m., some carried signs.
Smith said students notified school staff about the walkout before it occurred. Student organizers at North Pole Middle School had particular concerns about cuts to music and art classes, he said, and wanted to show their support for the programs and their teachers.