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In Wilkes County, North Carolina, land of vanished mills and furniture factories, many young people are baffled about life after high school. Military recruiters, by law, have access to public school students; in Wilkes County, they've been able to sit down with teens in the lunch room and discuss the benefits of service in the armed forces. Until recently, the Wilkes district also permitted "counter recruiter" Sally Ferrell on its high school campuses, too.
Ferrell, a Quaker, gave students with pamphlets about AmeriCorps and talked with them about alternatives to joining the military. "All we want to do is make students aware that there are other ways to find college money and serve your country without joining the military," she said. "We want to save lives."
Three Wilkes Countians have died already in the Iraq War.
Now Superintendent Stephen Laws has told Ferrell she can no longer come on campus. "We allow recruiters into the schools to recruit for post high school opportunities," said Laws, "But she wasn't offering that." Laws decision has the backing of the local school board.
The American Civil Liberties Union's North Carolina Chapter is now involved and plans to take up Ferrell's case as a First Amendment issue.
(See the Yonder's report on how rural communities are disproportionately bearing the burden of the Iraq War