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Anti-bullying group spreads message with Friday protest

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Jessica Martinez, a Campbell County School District School Board candidate, led a protest against bullying this afternoon outside Twin Spruce Junior High School, at 100 E. Seventh St., in Gillette.

About 15 people, including both children and adults, held posters that said statements like “Love, not hate,” “Be someone’s hero: stand up to bullying” and “don’t put others down to bring yourself up.” Protestors displayed their signs to drivers and students from about 2:45 to 3:15 p.m., both before and after students were dismissed from school.

Linda Cross shows a Twin Spruce Junior High School student her anti-bullying poster. (Mary Stroka/County 17)

Linda Cross, Charlie Cross’ grandmother and Martinez’s mother-in-law, said she’s very concerned about her grandson, and she wants people who have been bullied to know that people care. She also wants the school district to take more action regarding bullying.

Campbell County High School student Serria Hughes participates in the protest. (Mary Stroka/County 17)

Campbell County High School student Serria Hughes said she skipped seventh period, with her mother’s permission, to attend the protest. She said she was bullied at Twin Spruce and she thinks her participation will help inspire students to stand up for themselves.

Protestors gathered outside Twin Spruce Junior High School today to speak out against bullying. (Mary Stroka/County 17)

Martinez said she was happy with the turnout for the protest. While a couple of students made snide remarks in response to the posters, others accepted anti-bullying gear, she said.

At the end of the protest, the group stood outside Twin Spruce Principal Dana Lyman’s office, which has exterior glass walls and is on the north end of the building. The group did not say anything to Lyman at that time. Lyman left the office about one minute after the group began standing outside his office.

Some group members criticized Lyman for leaving the office, with one student heard calling him a coward. After the group walked away from the school, Lyman told County 17 he left his office at that time because he needed to go to the bathroom.

Lyman said he’s glad people are taking advantage of their right to assemble.

“What a great cause,” he said. “It’s suicide prevention month, September, and we have a few people who are, you know, concerned about suicide and bullying prevention. What a great cause.”