By ASHLEY CHEN, ALEXIA KADOTA-BROWNER and MICHELLE WU
A group of Jericho High School students headed to the New York City Climate March, reporting on the thousands of other youth activists on Sept. 20.
What started out as an idea by a few Jericho students to host a climate strike at school, quickly became a multi-tiered plan involving several students, some who attended the rally and others who organized efforts at school. The environmental club, along with climate activists, worked with Jericho High School administrators to organize a special morning announcement, as well as sending an email blast to the entire district.
Students were moved to act due to the immediacy of the issue.
“I’ve never looked at climate change from a political view before, and used to focus on what people could do as individuals to reduce their carbon footprint,” environmental club president and senior Keertti S. said. “I think that it’s a lot bigger of an issue than I originally thought. It’s more important now than ever to emphasize being politically involved.”
Jericho High School’s administration excused students after some petitioned for excused absences, following the lead set by New York City’s Department of Education.
“We set up a way for students to have their parents contact me so we knew that they had permission from their parents,” Jericho High School co-principal David Cohen said, stressing that the priority was student safety and family involvement. With parental consent assured, he said the district was “able to provide the students with an excused absence.”
Those who did not attend the New York City rally focused on educating the student body. Junior Quentin B. made a morning announcement to inform students about the importance of the Climate March and why they should be aware of their carbon footprint.
“We need to educate people on the effects of climate change, then focus on empowering them to reduce their carbon footprint,” he said.
Senior Andrew K. attended the Climate March because he felt strongly about the need to advocate for environmental change.
“As students, it is our future that is being impacted by the decisions made by Congress,” he said. “It is imperative for us and our future generations to preserve our world to the best of our abilities. By going on this march, I was part of something bigger that goes beyond my own needs as an individual.”
The march began in Foley Square, and protesters marched down to a center stage, located in Battery Park. Celebrity siblings Jaden and Willow Smith captivated the crowd with songs, like “Summertime in Paris” and “Icon,” before Swedish teen environmental advocate Greta Thunberg took the stage for her speech.
“The climate strike was transformative,” senior Jennifer L., who also went to the strike, said. “Experiencing the unity of protesting such a pressing issue along with so many others was more powerful than I could have ever expected it to be.”
And she wasn’t the only one to be inspired from the strike.
“When Greta opened up her speech by reading off the numbers of participants in strikes around the globe, I was moved,” Keertti S. said.
As people around the world continue to do their part, the Jericho activists hope to spread their message and lead the Jericho community to become more environmentally friendly.
“We are working with the administration on creating a detailed long-term plan that establishes a timeline with specific steps to reduce Jericho’s carbon footprint,” Quentin B. said. “The end goal is for Jericho to become carbon neutral.”