Montana

Jan 3, 2012 8:23 AM by Breanna Roy- KPAX News

High school students 'occupy' Polson

POLSON- While many students use their winter vacation as a break, others use it as a time to get active: politically active.

The Polson High School students call themselves "part of the 99 percent" and they're spending three days of their winter break standing up for federal student aid outside the Lake County Courthouse.

"This is our education we're talking about," Polson High School senior Aspen Many Hides said. "Our future."

"It's important to us," Polson High School senior Riley Lemm said. "I think it's more important than just sitting around and playing video games."

The activists are college-bound, many later this year when they'll also be old enough to vote. But with proposed cuts to federal student aid, they're worried about affording that higher education.

"We feel that with college tuition rates skyrocketing Federal Student Aid is an important investment in our future," Polson High School senior Peregrine Frissell said. "That's what allows everyone in America to be able to go to college at all and (it's) the last thing that should be cut."

But Occupy Polson is clearly different than the other "occupy" movements across the nation: it's not 24/7. The students presented their protest plan to Lake County Commissioners and agreed to only use the courthouse lawn from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. And unlike other "occupy" movements this one already has an end date: Wednesday, because high school classes resume on Thursday.

"We're not like a true "occupy" movement," Polson High School senior Riley Lemm said. "We're not after the same things that the occupy movement is after. I think people will warm up to the idea of what we're doing."

"Like obviously there's not gonna be a huge change just cause some kids on a reservation in Polson, Montana are doin' this," Polson High School senior Ian Laimbeer said. "But it's just the principle thought, we think. Just making a point, more than anything."

"We've had to deal with a lot of people that kind of wrote us off right away because they didn't think that we really understood the issues or knew what we were doing," Frissell said. "They asked what can we hope to accomplish? And obviously we know that we can accomplish; there's a lot that we can't do, but there's a lot that we can do and we're doing what we can."

Now they hope the elected officials do their part, too, to keep college tuition within students' financial reach.

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