The 6th graders organized and led a very successful Climate Strike on Friday, September 20th, 2019.
Earlier in the week, the 6th grade students began talking about the Climate Strike and Greta Thunberg’s movement. Students did some independent research and read an article about the strike. This inspired them to want to join the movement! During our class meeting, we discussed how we could join the movement. Students were enthusiastic about marching out of school– could we march to Amherst? The town hall? Eventually, we settled on the library and decided to invite other classes to join us. I sent out some emails, prepared to give the 6th graders some class time to work on it, and waited to see what would unfold. I was not prepared for the huge community response we would get!
At about 12:55, the cafeteria became a hum of activity. “Can we get our signs?” “What am I going to do with my lunch box?” “I forgot my speech in the classroom, can I go get it?” I was glad to be on lunch duty to help the 4th and 5th grade students do their last minute preparations and calm pre-march anxiety! I was proud to see that the 6th graders were going about their business independently and without reminders. Audrey went and borrowed the speaker from Coach Sadie in the gym, Eli grabbed the microphone from the closet, other students grabbed their signs and speeches.
Out the window, we noticed that Natalie Blais, the State Representative for Franklin County, had arrived. She came into the lunchroom and spoke to a few students, before walking out onto the playground to wait for the march to begin.
The Walk Out:
At 1:05, the 6th graders got up out of their lunch seats, signs in hand, and began chanting, “Hey, hey, ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go!” Rory and Mojo led the charge, with the rest of the 6th, 5th and 4th graders following. There was a gathering of community members, parents, and younger students on the playground ready to join the march!
As the students continued to march across the field, more members of the Leverett community came toward us from the library side of the field with signs. They began cheering and clapping for the young activists. As the students continuted to the library lawn, more community members joined in. It became quite an intergenerational event from babies and toddlers in strollers to elders using walkers and canes and everyone in between.
The group assembled on the library lawn to listen to some 5th and 6th graders speak. I am including the 6th graders speeches below:
Gael: (Speech written by Mojo, Gael, Caesar)
Fellow students. If you want us, the children to have a livable future, in a world where global warming is at least partially contained, we need to do something.
It would be nice if our government took part in the action by joining the Paris Accords and started cracking down on fossil fuels. But, we are the ones who have to take action. We need to lower our carbon footprint and start to use renewable energy now! Our country is the only country whose government hasn’t started fighting climate change. We use the MOST fossil fuels of any country in the world. We need to lead the way to victory over global warming.
This is our future, and global warming is taking it from us. We need to act now. Thank you.
Caroline and Riana:
This is our future. We need to change now. There is no Planet B.
Climate change is not ignorable. We need to change our actions to prevent climate change. Climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels like driving automobiles, flying planes and using so much electricity. We have a few years to change this.
Why are we here? Why are adults not taking charge?
Even though we are small, we have voices too. If we speak up, maybe the adults will catch on and act! We demand change now!
- Climate change is threatening our future. This is your future right now. And we need to find a way to protect it and make it better.
- Why are we here?
- We are here because of a teen activist named Gretta Thumburg. She is leading people from all over the world in a march to stop climate change. And we are doing our best to help her.
- *What is climate change?
- Climate change is when gasses from buildings and cars and airplanes go into the atmosphere and make the world hotter. When the climate is hotter, ice caps melt, oceans rise, storms are stronger and more often, and life gets harder on Earth.
- Why are we here? Why aren’t the adults dealing with it?
- The adults have known about this for a while and they have done some things, but they have not done enough. Now it is up to us to do something and demand that they do too!
- We can ride bikes more and use less gases. Go home and talk to your parents and encourage them to join the movement. do something about it. The more people we get to talk about it, the more likely we will be able to change this.
The 6th graders were originally concerned that no one would be there to hear them speak. They were very skeptical about the purpose of a march if the only audience was going to be students from the school. How surprised and please we were that the community response was so overwhelming! Not knowing that when they were planning, they wanted a way to pass their message to the greater community. They decided to “plant” their signs outside the library for all to see.
Students were inspired by the Climate Strike and March, and so was I. I have asked students what they would like to do next, and it seems like there is interest in pursuing this further. Perhaps a Climate Committee will get started. I know we will do some more Fridays for The Future activities and use the time to do teach ins about the climate crisis. Natalie Blais invited us to the Statehouse to hear the energy committee. We will see what the 6th graders are interested in pursuing. This is their movement after all!