Trump in Southport

Payton Romans and Olivia Lighty

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Patriotism rears its face through the likes of several different methods. What it means to be an American can be defined through the actions of the people who chose to express their love for their country in different ways.

And, as demonstrated by Perry Meridian students and their community on Friday, Nov. 2, it is clear there is more than one way to express patriotism.

Upon learning that President Donald Trump would headline  a rally at Southport High School, Perry students quickly found various ways to act.

Senior Abby Hoover and juniors Claire Marlatt and Grace Nash took it upon themselves to spray paint both the Southport and Perry rocks, though this time with more than just the typical Falcon blue or Cardinal red.

Instead, students of both schools were greeted the next morning with rocks radiating in rainbow spray paint, a symbol for LGBT pride. According to Marlatt, this was to spread a powerful message.

“We wanted to protest peacefully in our own way and be able to convey a sort of unity between two rival schools,” Marlatt says. “We wanted to make sure that people who may have felt oppressed by Trump’s presence felt love and acceptance from their peers.”

The painting of the rocks occurred Thursday night at 7:30 p.m., but before the rally could kick off the next day, the Southport rock was painted back to its previous crimson red.

However, according to Nash, the repainting itself was not relevant.  

“The rock being painted for Trump’s arrival didn’t matter to me because I’m not sure he would have noticed it anyway,” she says. “However, making people feel a little more love in a time of arguably the biggest political divide our country has ever seen made everything worth it.”

Painting the rocks was not the end of Perry’s expression of patriotism. Some students, like senior Jakob Orr, attended the rally decked out in red, accessorizing with a “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) bucket hat.

Orr claims that his first political rally was a success.

“I loved it,” he says. “It was one of those things you had to be there to fully understand what he [Trump] was talking about.”

The rally itself was attended by both supporters and those simply curious of the event. Senior Daisy Robles attended the rally because of how convenient the location was.

“I’d never been to a political rally, and the Trump rally was accessible for most because it was so close to our community,” Robles says. “I thought, ‘I can’t miss this opportunity.’”

While Robles didn’t attend the protest, she could not help but notice how close President Trump’s political stances on border patrol hit home.

“For me, having that many people around me, who share that same sentiment, and knowing that my parents were immigrants from Mexico, it made me feel outnumbered and attacked, and that was an environment that I didn’t feel particularly safe in,” she says.

Senior Sean Hanley was advised to go to the rally by A.P. Government teacher Patrick Chambers because of the rarity of the occasion.

“I attended it because Mr. Chambers suggested, no matter what party affiliation you were, to go for the experience,” Hanley says. “How often do we have a president in Indiana?”

Other than for curiosity, senior Ploy Unchit attended the night’s events  to push herself out of her comfort zone.

“I wasn’t planning on joining the protest, either,” Unchit says. “I did it on a whim and didn’t have a poster prepared or anything. I just pushed myself out of my comfort zone that day.”

This attitude of not wanting to miss such a rare occasion was shared by both Perry and Southport students, as both blue and red letterman jackets could be spotted in the ocean of attendees.

Southport sophomore Carter Vright and senior Max McClellen were just two of the numerous students dotting the audience.

“How often can you say your president came to your high school?” McClellan says. “It’s a great thing to check off my bucket list.”

Vright nodded in agreement.

“I’ve never really been to anything like this, so it will be a very interesting experience,” Vright said.

Across a sea of MAGA hats and political signs, supporters made their voices heard with continuous cheering and screaming at President Trump’s arrival and speech.

Signs handed out throughout the night expressed political slogans, such as “Finish the Wall” and “Drain the Swamp.”

While the event was publicized as a rally to support Mike Braun in his bid for U.S. Senate, Braun spoke only for a few minutes. Trump’s words  of his ideal America and promotion of Braun for senate sent the crowd into a frenzy.

Other notable speakers included Indiana congressional candidates Jim Baird and Greg Pence, as well as former Indiana University head basketball coach, Bobby Knight.

The atmosphere created was “like a concert,” according to Jay Cook, an adult Trump supporter who came to the rally with his wife.

“I’ve never been to a rally before, and it’s exciting,” Cook said over the loud assemblage. “It’s weird to see all of this, what society really acts like. Before a concert starts, this is exactly what it feels like. It’s just fun and people are really enjoying themselves.”

The roar of the crowd inside the gym, however, was greatly contrasted by those outside protesting the event. The rivaling protest began with a formation of Trump opposers at 5:30 p.m. and lasted until the end of the rally.

According to Hoover, the protest had a consistent 40 to 50 people marching mere feet from the Trump supporters entering the building.

Soon after the rally started, police officers informed the crowd that they would have to move their peaceful protest to Madison Ave. and away from Southport High School.

There, the marching continued.

“Love, not hate. That’s what makes America great,” echoed from the sign-carrying protesters.

Among these protestors were seniors Timmy Trobridge, Hoover, juniors Sophia Lopez-Wright and Autumn Haines and Perry alumni Jackson Belch, holding signs that, when put together, read, “Perry Township Students Against Trump.”

“The significance behind it all is that it spreads awareness and acceptance,” Hoover said. “Protesting creates a community of like-minded people who want to make the world better and safer for all people. It reminds people belonging to minority groups that we are here, listening to them and ready to fight for them and their rights.”

Though the reactions to the president coming to Perry Township may differ amongst students, it resulted in various acts of patriotism led by students with a desire to share their voice, and allowed students, like Lopez-Wright, to reflect on what it really means to be an American.

“Being a true American means different things to different people,” Lopez-Wright said. “To some, it means agreeing with the beliefs of those leading the country, and to others, it means expressing opposition when things need to change. It really depends on what they perceive to be true.”

Other notable speakers included Indiana congressional candidates Jim Baird and Greg Pence, as well as former Indiana University head basketball coach, Bobby Knight.
The atmosphere created was “like a concert,” according to Jay Cook, an adult Trump supporter who came to the rally with his wife.
“I’ve never been to a rally before, and it’s exciting,” Cook said over the loud assemblage. “It’s weird to see all of this, what society really acts like. Before a concert starts, this is exactly what it feels like. It’s just fun and people are really enjoying themselves.”
The roar of the crowd inside the gym, however, was greatly contrasted by those outside protesting the event. The rivaling protest began with a formation of Trump opposers at 5:30 p.m. and lasted until the end of the rally.
According to Hoover, the protest had a consistent 40 to 50 people marching mere feet from the Trump supporters entering the building.
Soon after the rally started, police officers informed the crowd that they would have to move their peaceful protest to Madison Ave. and away from Southport High School.
There, the marching continued.
“Love, not hate. That’s what makes America great,” echoed from the sign-carrying protesters.
Among these protestors were seniors Timmy Trobridge, Hoover, juniors Sophia Lopez-Wright and Autumn Haines and Perry alumni Jackson Belch, holding signs that, when put together, read, “Perry Township Students Against Trump.”
“The significance behind it all is that it spreads awareness and acceptance,” Hoover said. “Protesting creates a community of like-minded people who want to make the world better and safer for all people. It reminds people belonging to minority groups that we are here, listening to them and ready to fight for them and their rights.”
Though the reactions to the president coming to Perry Township may differ amongst students, it resulted in various acts of patriotism led by students with a desire to share their voice, and allowed students, like Lopez-Wright, to reflect on what it really means to be an American.
“Being a true American means different things to different people,” Lopez-Wright said. “To some, it means agreeing with the beliefs of those leading the country, and to others, it means expressing opposition when things need to change. It really depends on what they perceive to be true.”

Southport sophomore Carter Vright and senior Max McClellen were just two of the numerous students dotting the audience.

“How often can you say your president came to your high school?” McClellan says. “It’s a great thing to check off my bucket list.”

Vright nodded in agreement.

“I’ve never really been to anything like this, so it will be a very interesting experience,” Vright said.

Across a sea of MAGA hats and political signs, supporters made their voices heard with continuous cheering and screaming at President Trump’s arrival and speech.

Signs handed out throughout the night expressed political slogans, such as “Finish the Wall” and “Drain the Swamp.”

While the event was publicized as a rally to support Mike Braun in his bid for U.S. Senate, Braun spoke only for a few minutes.

Trump’s words  of his ideal America and promotion of Braun for senate sent the crowd into a frenzy.

Other notable speakers included Indiana congressional candidates Jim Baird and Greg Pence, as well as former Indiana University head basketball coach, Bobby Knight.

The atmosphere created was “like a concert,” according to Jay Cook, an adult Trump supporter who came to the rally with his wife.

“I’ve never been to a rally before, and it’s exciting,” Cook said over the loud assemblage. “It’s weird to see all of this, what society really acts like. Before a concert starts, this is exactly what it feels like. It’s just fun and people are really enjoying themselves.”

The roar of the crowd inside the gym, however, was greatly contrasted by those outside protesting the event. The rivaling protest began with a formation of Trump opposers at 5:30 p.m. and lasted until the end of the rally.

According to Hoover, the protest had a consistent 40 to 50 people marching mere feet from the Trump supporters entering the building.

Soon after the rally started, police officers informed the crowd that they would have to move their peaceful protest to Madison Ave. and away from Southport High School.

There, the marching continued.

“Love, not hate. That’s what makes America great,” echoed from the sign-carrying protesters.

Among these protestors were seniors Timmy Trobridge, Hoover, juniors Sophia Lopez-Wright and Autumn Haines and Perry alumni Jackson Belch, holding signs that, when put together, read, “Perry Township Students Against Trump.”

“The significance behind it all is that it spreads awareness and acceptance,” Hoover said. “Protesting creates a community of like-minded people who want to make the world better and safer for all people. It reminds people belonging to minority groups that we are here, listening to them and ready to fight for them and their rights.”

Though the reactions to the president coming to Perry Township may differ amongst students, it resulted in various acts of patriotism led by studentswith a desire to share their voice, and allowed students, like Lopez-Wright, to reflect on what it really means to be an American.

“Being a true American means different things to different people,” Lopez-Wright said. “To some, it means agreeing with the beliefs of those leading the country, and to others, it means expressing opposition when things need to change. It really depends on what they perceive to be true.”