High school and college students around the country walked out of class Wednesday to protest a war with Iraq (news - web sites), holding a series of rallies organizers predicted would be the biggest campus demonstrations since the Vietnam War. Tens of thousands of students at more than 300 colleges and universities had pledged to join the protests, according to the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition. But attendance was spotty at many campuses and some groups called for support of the Bush administration. Thousands of students also rallied for peace in Britain, Sweden, Spain, Australia and other countries. The U.S. protests were also geared to call attention to the effects of a war on education, health care and the economy. Manon Terrell, a 19-year-old sophomore, missed three classes to take part in a rally at Stanford University attended by about 300 people carrying signs bearing slogans such as, "It's the Middle East, not the Wild West." "This is a personal thing for me because my friends are going to fight this war," said Terrell, a civil engineering major. "It's not going to be Bush and his cronies in business suits on the front lines. They're going to take people of color and poor people." Dozens of Stanford professors endorsed the rally, either by telling students there would be no penalties for leaving class or by canceling class. In Los Angeles, 18 demonstrators were arrested for blocking an intersection during an interfaith protest as several hundred people cheered. About 1,000 students at Santa Monica City College rallied and 500 Venice High School students left class for a protest on the school's front lawn, waving signs and chanting "No more war, no more war." About 500 students walked out of class at the University of Maryland. And in Milwaukee, 40 students lined the sidewalk in front of the Marquette University student union during an hour-long protest. "It's good to let people know students have a say in what happens in the world," said Abir Chaudhry, 19, who carried a sign that read "God Does Not Bless America Only." Hundreds of students walked out in Texas. At San Antonio College, Melissa St. John, who favors an Iraq invasion, got into a nose-to-nose shouting match with a young man who argued no positive link has been made between Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) and Osama bin Laden (news - web sites). St. John later said she doesn't like the idea of war, but diplomatic efforts to rein in Saddam have failed. "None of us like it, but it's time," she said. "Our country is under attack." Sporadic rain fell as about 1,500 protesters — and a small number of Bush administration supporters holding a counter demonstration — gathered at Penn State University. The protesters later presented the mayor with petitions asking the borough council to oppose war with Iraq and resist elements of the USA Patriot and the Homeland Security acts. About 125 students and a few faculty members turned out in gray, drizzly weather for a rally at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Ross Meyer, a junior and founder of a student peace group, said he was disappointed by the turnout and someone interrupted his speech by urging the crowd to support the government if the United States invades Iraq. Two sisters, Kate and Allie Dunn, traveled to a New York City anti-war rally from suburban Westchester County to express their support of the Bush administration. "Remember 9-11?" asked a sign carried by 18-year-old Kate. Farther north, around 100 people rallied at an Albany, N.Y., shopping mall to protest the arrest of 61-year-old man who wore a T-shirt that read "Peace on Earth" and "Give Peace a Chance" while he shopped two days earlier. Another anti-war group, Not in Our Name, called on workers to call out sick and business owners to close up shop Wednesday to protest a war with Iraq. It could not immediately be determined whether any widespread sick-outs had occurred. Andrew Pearson took the day off from work to hang anti-war banners from highway bridges and later joined a demonstration at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. "We're trying to show folks across North Carolina that people are ready and willing to disrupt their daily lives to stop the war," Pearson said.And it's okay for this goofball to infringe on other people's rights so she can express her opinion? In Virginia, where many colleges were on spring break, only two students showed up for a demonstration at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. "If this were something the world wanted to do together, I would support it," said Jim Sparks, a 32-year-old biology graduate student. "It's a big mistake to go it alone."