Less than three weeks after their last climate strike, a Corvallis High School students were at it again — and this time they had demands.
About 75 CHS students, many of them members of the school’s Green Club, walked out of class at 11 a.m. on Tuesday and staged a 15-minute, school-sanctioned protest in front of the school’s main entrance as passing motorists honked their horns in approval.
Two dozen or so sign-toting adult climate activists, affiliated with organizations such as the Sunrise Movement, 350 Corvallis and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, stood in support on the other side of Northwest Buchanan Avenue.
As in a previous protest outside the school on May 24, students carried signs calling for action in the face of the global climate crisis and chanting slogans such as “Climate change is not a lie, please don’t let our planet die.”
But this time they went a step further.
Sophomore Aidan Evans used a bullhorn to read a list of three demands drawn up by the CHS Green Club. The students want the city of Corvallis to declare a climate emergency and conduct a communitywide greenhouse gas assessment followed by a fully funded and actionable reduction plan. And, finally, they want the Corvallis School District to develop a K-12 climate change and sustainability curriculum to be implemented by fall 2020.
“We do not want to talk about hope,” added fellow sophomore Mali Gottfried. “Hope is just a word until committed action is placed in front of it.”
Lending some star power to the event was 11-year-old Levi Draheim of Indian Harbor Beach, Florida, the youngest plaintiff in Juliana v. United States, a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Portland to force the government to address climate change on behalf of the nation’s youth.
Blowing on a conch shell and leading the protesters in raucous chants, Levi provided a spark of energy to the event. When it was his turn to take the bullhorn, he laid out his case for climate action.
“The U.S. government has known for 50 years that climate change is a problem, but it still continues to take actions that cause climate change,” he said.
“Our constitutional rights are being violated, but we are fighting back. … We have a right to a livable future, so let the youth be heard!”
Levi, who is on a speaking tour of Unitarian Universalist churches around the Northwest, also took part in a similar climate change protest staged by an estimated 30 students earlier in the morning at Crescent Valley High School.
Both events were loosely affiliated with a global movement launched by teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, said Amy Holte of the Corvallis chapter of the Sunrise Movement, which helped organize the climate strikes at both schools on Tuesday.
“It’s amazing,” Holte said. “There’s millions and millions of kids all over the world coming out for their future.”
The members of Corvallis High’s Green Club plan to make climate strikes a regular event when they return to school in the fall, adviser Julie Williams said.
“They want to do this once a month,” she said. “They want adults to take charge, but it’s their future.”