Students Join International Climate Strike Movement

Students from Mount Greylock and Williamstown Elementary joined Williams students, parents, and community members in a climate march from WES to Field Park on Friday afternoon.

The march came amid youth-led climate strikes across the globe, started by Swedish high-school student Greta Thurnberg, who began weekly school strikes last summer. Friday’s strike was by far the largest yet, with over 1.5 million students striking in 125 countries.

However, MG and WES students chose not to strike from school, instead meeting outside of WES at 3:15, after both schools let out. Some 200 activists began their march up Southworth before turning into Rt. Two and continuing on to the traffic circle, where a number of activists gave speeches.

Their signs ranged from “There is no planet B” to simply “Not cool,” their chants from “Planet over profit” to “Fossil fuels have got to go,” yet they remained united in their demands for action on climate change, including keeping the US to the commitments it made in the Paris Climate Accord, as well as keeping global warming below the 1.5 degrees Celsius mark urged by the IPCC.

There was an atmosphere of immense excitement especially among the younger students as they began their march to the rotary, and a number of them gave speeches when they arrived. One elementary aged student urged people to take action because “the polar bears need help from the ice caps melting. The ice caps are melting and the Penguins need a new home, and we need to help the penguins.” Other young students gave speeches calling for people to “Protect the earth. Protect our future.”

Greylock sophomores Charlotte Sanford and Carolyn Jones emphasized that the need for immediate action. “There is no planet B. If we don’t act now – if we don’t participate now – we won’t have a planet left for our children,” said Sanford. Jones added, “we have one earth and we need to implement the change to protect it.” Both students are also members of MG’s YES Club, or Youth Environmental Squad. “We’re implementing changes every week to make our school more efficient – to make out town more efficient,” Sanford said.

There is no planet B. If we don’t act now – if we don’t participate now – we won’t have a planet left for our children.

— Charlotte Sanford

When asked about her motivations, senior Karen McComish, who in large part organized the march, said that “we’ve got to do something.” But in reference to their decision to march after school and not strike from school, Junior Maddy Art referenced the need for this march to be for everyone, not just students, as well as a distinction from last year’s gun-control walkout after the Parkland shooting.

“We wanted to do it as a rally after school because we wanted to have more members able to be involved and we wanted to make a clear distinction from last years gun-control walkout. We just don’t want to seem like we’re doing this to get out of class or anything like that. There are a lot of issues that need our attention, and that can take a lot of different forms.”

Amid the hundreds of signs present, one seemed to garner extra attention. Atop a long pole, flapping in the breeze like a flag, a sign read “The seas are rising, and so are we.”