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About 20 to 25 students walked out of Alden Central High School this morning to protest U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf, school administrators said.

William Tupay, school principal, said all but about 10 students returned to class peacefully shortly after leaving school about 8 a.m.

"Some, I think, are genuinely and sincerely concerned, and others thought this was an opportunity to get out of school," Tupay said.

Kelly Lang, 16, one of the protesters, said the group feels the nation is rushing to war and not giving sanctions against Iraq a full opportunity to work. "We're scared," said Kelly, a junior. "We do not want to go to war. We want to be heard."

Tupay said students were urged to work through the school's Student-Faculty Forum or to discuss the matter with administrators rather than leaving school. He said students who returned to class will face after-school detention for missing one class but those who remained out of school may face stiffer disciplinary measures.

About 570 students attend the school.

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