Students Strike for Climate Change
By Chance Mentink, Reporter
On September 20, one million students worldwide stood in protest against the powers that have long caused or prolonged the global disaster that is climate change. In April of 2018, Gretta Thurmburg, a 16-year-old Swedish girl, sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to give a speech on climate change to the NATO Climate Accord in New York. Her speech inspired thousands in Seattle, and many more around the world, to participate in a student-led walkouts and marches with the goal of sparking legislation that will begin to reverse the effects of climate change.
At the high school, students encouraged each other to participate in the walkout.
“I was pretty inspired,” high school art teacher Kristen Dallum said. “The whole week leading up to the march, I was impressed by how involved the students were.”
One hundred ninety six students — one third of the school population — were absent that day, a sharp increase from the average number of 70 to 80 absences on a normal school day. Near100 students boarded the Vashon Island passenger ferries on their way to the march.
“I know some worries about [the climate strike] were that people were just going to skip school that day, but I feel like almost everyone who didn’t go to school that day was at the march for the march,” junior Chris Fontina said.
Students spent the day at Cal Anderson Park, then marched to City Hall, all in hopes of inciting political change to aid the environment. Protests such as this have become commonplace in recent years, especially for younger generations, an age group that seems to be growing tired with what they perceive as their predecessor’s empty promises. Still, the young activists do have some support from their teachers and mentors.
“I feel like it is my responsibility to honor my students and what they find important,” said Dallum.
One student in particular benefited greatly from Dallum’s support. Senior AP Art student Djuna Schuerholz-Wright helped organize the high school’s part in the march, designing and hand-printing T-shirts and cloth squares with a sunflower and the words “Climate Justice.”
“Ms. Dallum is an angel … and was super supportive by giving us her room and supplies to make posters [and] and do screen printing,” Schuerholz-Wright said.
The overall experience of the march greatly impacted Schuerholz-Wright as well, and she spoke to the power of community.
“It felt super great to get so many people together and involved in something that is so urgent,” she said. “It was inspiring and eye-opening to be at the march. It meant a lot to be involved and see other organizations because the climate crisis feels so helpless.”
Students interested in climate activism can join the high school Green Team, headed by junior Grace Christie and advised by biology teacher Jordan Browning. The group meets on Thursdays at lunch in room 1117.