Op-Ed: Montana Teen, Emma Upton, Stands Up for Liberty


Emma Upton is a powerhouse.

Several articles have been written about the walkout/protest led by Upton on April 16 at Columbia Falls High School, but none have given her proper coverage. Liberal sources have butchered the tale and have all but refused to allow Upton to speak for herself.

Columbia Falls Superintendent Dave Wick went off on a tangent concerning masking and social distancing, telling MTN News, “All of those things that contributed to our success having school year in our activities. Overall, it’s been a great year for our staffing community.”

Wick is wrong.

Upton (18), boldly argued to her school, “Montana’s curve regarding active COVID cases inclines, peaks, and then declines. South Dakota, for example, has a graph almost identical to Montana’s. The difference? South Dakota never mandated facial coverings, thus debunking the narrative that face masks are effective in COVID prevention.”

Upton organized a protest of students, fed up with forced masking by anti-face educators. Liberal outlets claimed there were about 50 students and parents who came out for the protest when in reality there were over one-hundred. Apparently, the legacy press is bad at counting.

So without further ado, we here at Montana Daily Gazette give you Emma Upton, political powerhouse, activist, and visionary.

Here’s Emma’s story.

My name is Emma Upton and I am a senior at Columbia Falls High School. This year, in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, I, as well as my fellow students, have experienced extreme polarity and unconstitutionality within School District 6. Even with just four weeks left in my high school career, I have taken it upon myself to see that this doesn’t continue for future generations and incoming students in Columbia Falls schools.

In March of 2020, my junior year of high school came to a sudden halt when COVID-19 decided to make an appearance in the United States. As you probably remember, we were all full of uncertainty and unsureness. My heart ached for the senior class of 2020– missed prom, canceled last sports seasons, abnormal graduation, early goodbyes to peers, etc. Experiencing such a weird and sad time made me hope and pray that my last year of high school would allow for normalcy. However, that was anything but the case.

Throughout the spring of 2020, I was compliant. As previously stated, none of us knew exactly what COVID was. We didn’t know how high the survival rate was, how high the recovery rate was, how useless a piece of cloth over our faces was, etc. Therefore, I followed the sheep and listened to our politicians. I didn’t leave the house for weeks and when I did, I had a mask over my face and stayed away from any physical contact, as directed. As summer went on and the new school year arrived, I felt utterly stupid. This was all a political ploy. A need for power. A want to control. My mindset soon began to shift and as the school started to abuse their power, I couldn’t stand it any longer.

I began reading about the effectiveness of facial coverings. I soon began to realize the inconsistency and hypocrisy put out by the left. Two things that all these “reliable studies” have in common is that (1) they are all put out by far left agencies, and (2) they are only to strike fear into those who do not choose think for themselves. In fact, let’s take a took at some numbers (per study conducted by the New York Times). Montana’s curve regarding active COVID cases inclines, peaks, and then declines. South Dakota, for example, has a graph almost identical to Montana’s. The difference? South Dakota never mandated facial coverings, thus debunking the narrative that face masks are effective in COVID prevention.

No study suggested that a thin layer of cloth over your face could fully protect you from ingesting Coronavirus particles. No study stated that a face mask was going to save you from transmitting or receiving COVID. And no study said that the government had the authority to tell me how to treat my own health (4th & 14th Amendments). So when the school mandated facial coverings, even after the governor had lifted the state mandate, we had a problem. I was not going to sit in silence any longer.

My first step was finally taking charge and founding the first ever Turning Point USA chapter at Columbia Falls High School. Although this had no affiliation with the termination of face masks, the left’s attempt at peddling their way into authority by using the Coronavirus Pandemic made politics in school much more prevalent. So therefore, I decided that it was the perfect time to band together with like-minded students and promote what is true and constitutional.

Even with a very liberal school administration, I was able to recruit a sponsor and get our TPUSA chapter passed and recognized by the school. Since the foundation of Turning Point, I have gotten immense support by the community and have become very successful promoting capitalism, freedom, the free market, patriotism, constitutionalism, and more. My fellow Turning Point officers and I have been so fortunate to be able to speak at community events and host meetings every Thursday for students to attend.

Even with a month left of my high school career, I am nowhere near satisfied with the current situation of our school administration and board. Teachers constantly policing students to wear their masks rather than actually educating, inappropriate and unprofessional remarks made to students not wearing their masks correctly, and most of all, the school board’s inaccurate reflection of the students whom they are supposed to be advocating.

The majority of students and parents at Columbia Falls High School do not feel they are accurately being represented, as most do not see the logic or need to further require facial coverings. Various schools around the state have made the executive decision to get rid of mask mandates. But, Columbia Falls still holds on. While there is no factually based science to support the need for facial coverings, the question is ‘why’? Is it a further ploy to hold power? Are the personal biases of the school board members eliminating the ability to think logically, and for the sake of the students?

And for those uncertainties, it is extremely important to fill out school board election ballots (by May 4th, 2021). Whether you have children attending school in the district or not, it is critical that we get the right trustees on the board. The future of students relies in the hands of the school board.

Two Columbia Falls candidates possessing the want for change and the drive to accurately represent students for generations to come, are Andrew Doyle and Wayne Jacobsmeyer. Both candidates have a vested interest in doing away with any political agendas and making the educational environment the best it can be for students.

After pondering for many sleepless nights about what I could do in my power as a student, I decided to stage a walkout. Earlier in the month, Kate Opre from Glacier High School also staged a walkout with a turnout of over 40 people. After Kate’s successful efforts, she and I teamed up to organize a similar walk-out at Columbia Falls, High School. At 12:30 PM on April 16, 2021. My fellow peers and I walked out of the school maskless in hopes to catch the eye of the school board. We held up signs advocating for optional masks and we stood across the street facing the school for over three hours.

Between community members and high school students, we had a turnout of over 100 people. Included in the crowd was Shaun Pandina, part of the School District 5 constitutionally based group of school board candidates. Wayne Jacobsmeyer, School District 6 candidate, also made an appearance in support of the push to make masks optional. My walkout was caught on to by valley-wide news outlets and I was able to gain a lot of coverage. But because of the corruption of the left-leaning media, I was not given the credibility I deserved.

And even though graduation is approaching, my fight is not over. After graduation, I plan to stay in the valley and attend Flathead Valley Community College with hopes of studying political science.

This year in school has taught me a lot of things, one of which is that I have a voice. And I am damn well going to use it.

Thank you for your time,

Emma L. Upton


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