With shouts of "education is a human right" students from Grove High School lined Third Street mid-day on Monday, April 2, with one goal in mind - supporting their teachers.
The students, ranging in age from freshman to senior, stood in front of the Grove Public Schools Administration building, before walking and standing at the corner of Third and Main.
With signs ranging from “We Love Our Teachers” to “I Am Worth Every Penny," the students wanted to make a point - that teaches provide an important service to the community.
Led in part by Hayley Dozier, herself the daughter of an educator, the group began making plans to protest on Friday, when it appeared Grove Public School would be in session.
Dozier, a junior, said she grew frustrated, knowing some teachers would remain in school instead of traveling to the state capital.
"Knowing they couldn't walk out on their own, I felt like it was a complete injustice," Dozier said. "I thought our teachers needed our support.
"They've supported most of us since we were little. This is finally something we are able to repay them with."
Dozier said she knows many teachers are protesting, not for personal gain, but out of concern for their students.
"We are those kids," she said. "We still support them. We're standing here, while they support us in Oklahoma City."
Dozier said she wanted to give back to the teachers who taught her to "stand up for what she believes in."
"It's scary and risky," Dozier said. "But it was something I had to do. Even if people are watching. [Students] still have voices and still stand up for something good."
Taylor Johnson, a freshman, was another student taking part in the protest.
"We're all out here, not about the teacher's raises - this is about education," Johnson said. "We can't be the future leaders, without funding.
"I still have the next [few] years of high school to prepare for college, to become part of the working class of America. If I'm not educated in high school, how can I do that."
Johnson said she worries about the education her younger brother, a fifth grader, will receive before he graduates in 2025.
Mason Allen, a junior, was another student holding signs in Grove.
Allen said he knows the protest is about more than teacher raises.
He cited two examples - one in a government class, the other in a history class - of how his teachers make do without current or enough textbooks.
"In the government class, we had to share two people to a text book," Allen said. "In U.S. History, we don't use the textbooks because there aren't enough. We use the Barron's books, which are smaller."
Those books, are often designed as study guides rather than textbooks, but are available at a lower price.
Allen worries school officials will continue to make cuts to the classes offered at GHS, including the AP classes.
"When my mom was at Wyandotte, they offered physics," Allen said. "I don't remember them ever offering physics in Grove."
Grove Superintendent Sandy Coaly said she was proud of the Grove students taking part in the protest.
"They have the right to express their personalities [in this way]," Coaly said. "I think they love their teachers and are behind them 100 percent.
"We have some really mature high school students, who did a lot of thinking over the weekend. There was non-stop news and our kids do pay attention."
Traveling to OKC
Tessa DuBois, a senior at Grove, was among the students - primarily children of educators - who attended the rally in Oklahoma City.
DuBois said the event was a bit "crazy" as all of the educators, as well as parents and students filled the capitol grounds.
She said it was encouraging to see the amount of support members of the public were giving teachers.
"We were standing on an overpass, over the interstate, with people lined up all around us, and nearly everybody was driving by honking and waving," DuBois said.
Part of her day included going into the capitol building to talk with local legislators. DuBois' group spoke with Rep. Ben Loring (D-Miami) and Sen. Wayne Shaw (R-Grove).
DuBois said she was impressed with how Loring not only answered questions, and tried to help explain away some misinformation, but also listened.
"I got to talk about some of my fears," DuBois said. "I may be leaving [school] but I'm afraid some of my friends won't have the same opportunities as I did, if the funding is supported."
For DuBois' mother, Lu Ann, the trip to the capitol provided her a chance to allow herself to be "pulled out of her comfort zone."
Lu Ann DuBois said her daughter encouraged her to not only be in the picket line, but also go into the capitol building to visit with the legislators.
"She made me more brave," Lu Ann DuBois said. "I wanted her to get all she could out of the experience. She was right there in the middle of it."
Victoria Cunningham, an eighth grader at Grove Middle School, also attended the rally with her mother, Jennifer, a teacher at Miami Public Schools.
Cunningham said she was impressed with how the teachers all came together, to work towards a change.
She was part of a group who had a chance to listen to Sen. Micheal Bergstrom (R-Big Cabin) speak in a conference-room setting.
"I didn't agree with a lot of things Sen. Bergstrom told us," Cunningham said. "But I felt like he believed what he was saying. He did not seem very honest in my opinion.
"He said some funding had passed, but when we checked those bills had not passed yet, and another was voted down in the House of Representatives."
Cunningham said her mother used the day as a learning tool, helping her understand things as they took place.
"I learned that if you want to have something done in your country, you have to fight for it," Cunningham said, adding she would return to the capitol building if necessary. "I don't think very much change is going to happen. I'll go again. I feel like I should support it even more, until it does change."