By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) – As thousands of Denver Public Schools teachers rallied for better pay and funding Friday, a major school event went on with some teachers torn between their students and fellow teachers.

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(credit: CBS)

Billed as the largest annual student-led Shakespeare festival in the country, students from throughout the city converged on the Denver Center for the Performing Arts for the DPS Shakespeare Festival. Some of the teachers were faced with a choice of going to the rally or working as scheduled with their students on a day they had long been preparing for. Several chose to stay with the students.

Participants in the festival marched from Skyline Park to the DCPA, and the messages they displayed were part Shakespeare and part teacher demands. Some students carried signs such as, “I’d rather be funded in a classroom.”

(credit: CBS)

For Cory Elementary School students like Laurel Kelly this was an important day. She said the teachers have her support.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger interviews Laurel Kelly. (credit: CBS)

“Our teachers are like amazing and they work their butts off every day, they are the ones getting us through this grade and I think it’s amazing the teachers decided to do a walk out,” she said.

Cory teacher Rainy Laventure was at the festival with the kids, working despite the teacher job action.

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“I’m here with my students cause they have been working so hard and they are amazing and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this day… but my heart is with those teachers at the capitol,” she said.

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“Supporting our kiddos who have worked so hard for us and will be joining my teammates afterwards,” one teacher said.

(credit: CBS)

One teacher enlisted Shakespeare on a sign to back their cause — “To fund or not to fund, that is no longer a question.”

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CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.