Nearly 100 South Whidbey students left school early on Friday to rally for climate action.
Led by members of the youth climate activist coalition United Student Leaders, 95 students primarily from South Whidbey High School walked out of class at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 30, an hour before school lets out.
They joined 30 community protesters for a student-led rally at Castle Park, then marched through the park and down Maxwelton Drive bearing signs with slogans such as “We’re skipping our lessons to teach you one” and “People, Not Profit,” which was the theme of this year’s international strike.
Fridays for Future school walk-outs were inspired by Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunberg. During September, students and other activists around the world rallied for climate change mitigation action and legislation.
“I am appalled at the lack of human consciousness that our government has had in the last few years,” said student activist Torrey Green in a speech at the rally. She later added, “The bare minimum is our county declaring a climate emergency, but they refused to do so within the last month.”
In September, county commissioners passed a climate resolution that codified the county’s commitment to climate change mitigation and environmentally sustainable practices but fell short of actually declaring a climate crisis or emergency, drawing criticism from members of the United Student Leaders and other Whidbey residents.
“At the end of the hearing, Commissioner (Melanie) Bacon did say that this resolution is only the beginning of climate legislation that Island County will be passing,” said United Student Leaders co-founder and recent South Whidbey High School graduate Annie Philp. “We are here today to show the county that we will hold them to their promise.”