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Getting wider view at walkout

Nicole Brodeur
Seattle Times

Tye Rogerson hasn't missed a day of school since seventh grade.

That stellar run ended on Wednesday, when Rogerson — a Roosevelt High School senior with a 3.65 GPA — walked out of school right after his first-period creative-writing class.

It was time to do something about the war.

"I want to express how I feel in a bigger venue," said Rogerson, 17, one of hundreds of teenagers who took part in a citywide student walkout at Westlake Center to protest the war in Iraq.

The event was timed with the first anniversary of President Bush's re-election, as was an earlier rally sponsored by The World Can't Wait, a New York-based political group that seeks, according to its Web site, "to create a political situation where the Bush administration's program is repudiated ... and where the whole direction he has been taking U.S. society is reversed."

It's a tall order, but Rogerson was up for it.

His mother didn't know he had left school to protest, "but she's aware of this and says it's great," he said.

Rogerson stood in front of the stage as a young woman called out the names of high schools. When he heard Roosevelt, Rogerson raised a fist.

He reads the paper, watches the news, but not with any intensity, he said. It's more what he hears from friends and shares with his mother.

He just felt it important to be there.

"It's not like I am the stereotypical hippie," he said with a shrug. "There's more than one type of person that comes to these things."

And yet, there were the usual suspects. Various groups handed out literature, while others set up tables with buttons and T-shirts for sale.

Graying men and women laced through the crowd of students who gabbed, smoked and chattered into cellphones. Some skulked, some stared. Some led, some followed.

It was high school. And I expected that.

But I didn't have high hopes that these naturally self-

centered souls would see the world as any bigger than the new Xbox 360 and TV's "Laguna Beach."

I wondered if they noticed that many of the U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq were not much older than they. And that if the war drags on, it will not just be a slogan on a T-shirt but a face in their memories, a number in their cellphones.

I underestimated them.

Lauren Duncan was draped in a Seattle Times front page bearing the faces of Washingtonians killed in Iraq. She had drawn a peace sign over it.

"My parents are Republicans," said Duncan, 19, who attends Green River Community College. "I told them I was going to a protest and they rolled their eyes at me."

So why did she come?

"We need to take care of things at home," she said. "We don't need to be in another country. We don't need every other country to be America."

On my way out, I spotted Rogerson and noticed his T-shirt: Homer Simpson on a couch, in his underwear, surrounded by doughnuts: "It's all good," it read.

For them, it is. For now. But we all know that may not last.

Nicole Brodeur's column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or


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