Students from Kingston High School recently joined thousands of other young people around the world on in a global youth strike demanding action on climate change.
Principals for Kingston and North Kitsap High School, in preparation for the Sept. 20 event, put out statements regarding the global climate strike and the participation of their students.
In a message to Kingston High School families, Principal Jack Simonson shared the school’s plans for handling the walkouts.
“Student-led walkouts and protests are not sponsored by the school or the district,” Simonson said in the message. “However, we do respect our students’ rights to exercise their freedom of speech. Advocating for an issue they feel passionate about can be a very powerful learning experience. We also recognize that some students may not want to participate in events or walkouts and would prefer to stay in class. We want to make sure that all of our students feel safe and respected no matter what they choose to do.
Our highest priority is to keep all of our students safe. In the event that students decide to walk out, we are providing a safe place for them to assemble on campus. School and district leaders, district staff, and campus security will be available on school sites and will remain with students. All classes will occur on their normal schedule and classroom instruction will continue as planned.”
Simonson added that absences that were not excused by a parent would be treated as unexcused absences.
Kingston junior Madrona Eickmeyer organized the Kingston High School walkout.
“I had heard about the strike on the Fridays for Future page. I started organizing the walkout with the help of my parents and we got about 17 kids to walk out,” Eickmeyer said.
The students met up with other students from Central Kitsap High School at the larger strike at Cal Anderson Park in Seattle.
“It was really cool to see other kids join me as we walked out,” Eickmeyer said.
It is estimated that more than 4, 500 strikes were planned globally, with 500 in the U.S. alone and according to Time Magazine the strike will be the largest global environmental strike in modern history. A second strike is planned for Sept. 27.
The strike was organized by The Climate Strike Coalition and spurred by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.
Thunberg launched the global program called “Fridays for Future” where on Fridays, rather than attending school, she began protesting outside the Swedish parliament building, demanding action on climate change.
Over the course of the last year, Thunberg has been traveling around the world via sailboat, speaking at different summits and government facilities about climate action around the world. She was the lead speaker at the climate strike in New York and also spoke at the U.N. Climate Summit.
Thunberg has been criticized for encouraging youth to skip school to participate in these climate strikes. That criticism extends down to the students that chose to walk out as well.
When asked about the criticism she and her classmates faced, Eickmeyer called it ridiculous.
“I think its absolutely ridiculous. I mean most of us here have the support of our families to be here, they believe in what we are doing and what we are fighting for,” said Eickmeyer.
Climate scientists say that Earth is currently in the early stages of a mass extinction and that if steps aren’t taken to cool the planet by 1.5 degrees Celsius, the damage done to the planet will be irreversible.