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Locals walk to support higher education

BY KRISTEN EAST | NOVEMBER 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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A group of Quaker-school students and Kiwanis volunteers marched toward Old Brick Sunday morning, clutching signs, and chanting about peace and student loans.

Roughly 25 students and 10 others walked 13.5 miles from West Branch to Iowa City for a peace walk — established by students at the Scattergood Friends School and Farm — to advocate for equal access to higher education for students of all economic backgrounds.

"We are promoting peace and economic diversity so that all students have equal opportunities for education, especially as they begin to think about college," said Rüdiger Ruckmann, the Scattergood development director.

Scattergood Friends School is a Quaker boarding school in West Branch. Members from Kiwanis clubs in Cedar Rapids and Marion were also in attendance, and one Occupy Iowa City demonstrator joined the group for the latter half of the walk. The group gathered at Old Brick for a reception upon completing its 13.5-mile trek.

Ruckmann said the students have organized every walk the school has participated in.

"Our students, from the beginning, have very much shaped this walk," he said. "This was pretty much their idea. All of our walks and many of our initiatives here are student-led."

This isn't the first time Scattergood has held a peace walk. it previously held peace walks in 1961 and 1986 to protest the Cold War, Ruckmann said. While Sunday's walk was specifically about economic diversity, all walks have focused on promoting peace, he said.

Most of the students hope to go to college but say rising costs stand in their way. And many students receive scholarships to attend the school.

"[Scattergood] is a relatively poor school," said Tremayne Abazs, a Scattergood senior. "It's a college prep school, we have to get accepted to college. But not all of us can feasibly go to college because there's not enough money … in the education system."

Byron Tabor, a member of the Kiwanis clubs in Cedar Rapids, said there was a great turnout of students and volunteers for the walk.

"There were a couple walkers from Cedar Rapids, one from Marion," he said. "We had a few [walkers] who had a little trouble along the way, but for the most part, they made it pretty well."

Tabor said people supported the walkers by cheering and honking their horns as they passed.

"It's good to see that the kids want to participate and make everybody aware of the conflicts going on in the world and that we all need to start getting along together," Tabor said.

University of Iowa Student Government Vice President Brittany Caplin said she was disappointed she didn't know about Sunday's event beforehand, but she applauded the school's efforts.

"You can't do anything without a college degree," she said. "Any event to bring awareness to that is really important."


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