Students join hundreds in climate strike

Student-led international strike raises awareness about climate change


Photo courtesy of Julia Harris.

Julia Harris ’20 (left) and Isabel Sices ’20 (right) listen to speeches at Federal Plaza.

Approximately 400 Jones students checked out of school on March 15 to take part in the international Youth Climate Strike at Grant Park. In order to leave, administration required students to bring a signed note from a guardian allowing them to leave for early dismissal.

“Walkouts are a liability,” said Mitchell. “That’s why we choose to handle it in the way that we did.”

Starting at 11 a.m., many of the students that checked out walked from the school to Arvey Field at Grant Park, where the march officially began. The crowd then proceeded to Federal Plaza, where students from across the city gave speeches on climate change from 11:50 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.

“When we were walking on Michigan Avenue, and I turned around and saw the big line of people, I was like ‘Wow, we’re actually doing something,’” said Merlinda Akindele ‘20, a participant in the march.

Among the speakers was Sadie de Forest ‘21, who gave her speech about the consequences of leaving climate change unaddressed.

“We should be at school, the adults in this crowd should be at work,” said de Forest. “But today we are here so that future generations still exist to do both of those things.”

The purpose of the walkout was to send a message to lawmakers about legislation concerning climate change and the use of fossil fuels.

“Anyone who’s looked at the facts knows the effects of climate change are going to be irreversible in the next 10-20 years,” said de Forest. “If we don’t speak up now, nothing is going to happen.”

For many students, the strike was a way to exercise rights and ideas they had been taught in school.

“In civics class we learned how walkouts and marches help with the movement of movements,” said Akindele. “They create a conversation about change.”

Administration expressed that the walkout could be a valuable learning opportunity for students, and allowing participation was in accordance with Jones’ core values.

“Walkouts and participating in demonstrations are a healthy part of being a good citizen, it’s part of our democratic process,” said Vice Principal Eric Mitchell. “This was an opportunity for students to share their voice.”

The number of Jones students who participated in the Youth Climate Strike was nearly half of the 1,000 students that participated in the March For Our Lives walkout. However, some students believe the Youth Climate Strike addressed a larger issue.

“It’s not that shocking to me that more people showed up to the gun violence rally,” said de Forest. “I think that climate change is a larger issue, since it’s something that’s affecting everyone around the world.”