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Photos: Lawrence students hold protests against district proposal to nix gymnastics

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Students at Free State High School held a walkout Wednesday in protest of district administrators’ tentative plan to end the high school gymnastics program.

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The Lawrence school district says the decision stems from multiple concerns, including an estimate of $32,000 for the program to continue next year. But the program’s coach — who said she doesn’t agree with that figure — and gymnastics parents and athletes have said they’ll fight to keep the program and its “unmatchable” team spirit around.

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Students at Free State were chanting “Save our sport” during the walkout, their school newspaper, the Free Press, reported. Across town, the Lawrence High School newspaper, the Budget, was covering a sit-in at that school.

Photos by KD Rudisell

KD Rudisell / Contributed Photo Students stage a walkout Dec. 8, 2021 at Free State High School to protest a plan to cut the district’s high school gymnastics program.
KD Rudisell / Contributed Photo Students stage a walkout Dec. 8, 2021 at Free State High School to protest a plan to cut the district’s high school gymnastics program.
KD Rudisell / Contributed Photo Student Jack Keathley-Helms, wearing a Free State gymnastics outfit, holds a sign that reads “Is it different if I wear the uniform?” during a walkout Dec. 8, 2021 at Free State High School.
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Social worker, coach weaves life experiences into empowerment lessons for Lawrence youth

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Audrey Trowbridge sits in her basement surrounded by glitter, wood, paint cans and her favorite crafting supply of all time — pipe cleaners. Her craft room serves as a retreat, and during remote learning, the Free State High School social worker took her video conference calls there.
Behind her, a painting of a glowing Black woman wearing a bejeweled crown draws attention. When asked if she painted it, Trowbridge says one of her sisters gifted the piece to her. Its placement is purposeful. She wants others to see it in the background, but she also hopes to glean inspiration from it when she glances at herself on screen. The powerful art serves as a self-affirmation and a reminder while advocating for herself and her students.

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