CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia students are not staying silent about their support for teachers.

“We must stand. If we don’t stand with our teachers, who will stand for us?” said Lindsey, a student at Mingo Central High School, during a Friday rally on the state Capitol steps in Charleston.

Students and community members joined teachers and school service personnel at the Capitol during Day 7 of the statewide strike. All public schools in West Virginia have been closed since Feb. 22.

The rally drew hundreds of people to statehouse steps — holding signs and chanting for better pay and benefits. The crowd of students could be heard chanting “do you job!” to state lawmakers who are currently considering the Governor’s pay raise bill.

Tori, a student at Riverside High School in Belle, said it’s time to give teachers what they deserve in order to keep them here.

“If we want to keep people in West Virginia, we have to help the people — the teachers, the service personnel, the bus drivers, the cooks. We have to help everyone,” she said.

Fully funding the Public Employees Insurance Agency is crucial, she told the crowd.

“We need to make sure that we get enough money to every state employee. We have people that risk their lives, like my father, who are not getting paid enough for their insurance,” Tori said.

Several students signs at the rally read “we are the future.”

“This is my future!” one Boone County student exclaimed. “This is my brother’s future, this is my friend’s future! You can’t play with that. You can’t take that away from us. We need teachers. We need certified teachers. We need teachers that are paid a proper amount.”

Corey from Capital High School said he’s always looked up to his teachers.

“Those who have fought for me always have been my teachers. Who here shows the support for them like they show for us?” he asked the crowd, which was followed by chants.

After the rally, the students joined their teachers and marched around the Capitol Complex demanding action from the Legislature.

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