More than 350 students from University City High and Standley Middle schools walked out of class Sept. 20 to support the Global Climate Strike that had more than 150 countries participating. The student-run event included a march from UCHS to Standley Park, where SMS students met the high schoolers. Once at Standley Park, students led a rally and spoke about the need to take action and make changes to reverse the result of climate change, including changing diets and decreasing reliance on fossil fuels.
Chants were led by Zachery Patterson with the crowd repeating “our planet, our future,” “climate justice is what we need, we say no to corporate greed,” and “show me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like.” Patterson also pointed out a sign reading “denial is not a policy” as one of the reasons that students need to be proactive now and not follow the indifference of political leaders.
Following is a statement by one of the student leaders Mackenzie Connor, a sophomore at UCHS, on why she participated.
“I found it important for students to participate in the climate walkout so we could raise awareness about what’s happening to our planet and how each and every individual can make a change bringing us closer and closer to reversing the effects of climate change. I not only touched on what climate change is and how it’s affecting our planet in my speech, I also talked about how we can make changes in our everyday lives in order to stop this crisis.
“Students can now make those changes that I mentioned, as well as spread the word, do more research, inspire others, and take action. I’ve already had friends tell me that they’ve talked to their parents about what they learned at the walkout, and their parents are doing things like making more plant-based meals as well as cutting down on the amount of plastic they buy when shopping.
“Our high school has recycling bins up around school as well as vegetarian meals offered, but I think it would really be beneficial if our school could include more lessons on environmental issues in our curriculum, to truly inspire students to make that change, fight for our future, and stand up for what we stand on. I am very passionate about saving our planet and there’s nothing I want more than for others to be, too. I’m a girl who’s in love with the world, and I want my kids to grow up in the same world as I did, and I want their kids to do the same. I want them to grow up in this beautiful, breathtaking, miraculous planet we call Earth and we get the privilege to call home. I have so much faith in this generation and I thought what took place at the walkout yesterday was truly beautiful.”
UCHS Principal Jeff Olivero did want to note that the school was recognized for being the second best high school in the San Diego Unified School District in recycling efforts.
More than 25 schools throughout San Diego County participated in the Global Climate Strike, and students did need to have parental permission to leave classes to order to participate in the strike. Student leaders also encouraged voter registration and forms were available to those who will be eligible to vote, including pre-registering 16- and 17-year-olds.
To learn more about the strike, visit globalclimatestrike.net. The local walkout was assisted by the group SanDiego350.org.