ANACORTES — Nearly 100 students rallied on the front lawn of Anacortes High School last week, demanding action on climate change.
The Friday rally included homemade signs and a constant stream of chants that included: “When our planet is under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back.”
The protest was part of a global, largely youth-led movement to demand action, with schools throughout the world holding demonstrations.
Community members began arriving to the school at 11 a.m., ready with signs, megaphones and microphones to support the students.
The students trickled out onto the lawn at 11:30 a.m., the start of the first lunch, with signs and banners. Co-organizer Lucy Shainin was among the first to address the crowd.
“By coming out here today, we are saying ‘enough is enough,’” she said. “We are striking because we want climate action, and we want it now.”
The week before the rally was set, the Anacortes School District released a statement acknowledging plans for the protest and informing students and parents about the district’s position: that it supports the rights of students to freedom of expression but that participation could result in unexcused absences.
The demonstration was planned to be the least disruptive to the school day, said Shainin, spanning both lunches and a part of fifth period.
Many students stayed for the entirety and about a dozen addressed the crowd, bringing up issues on which they would like see action taken, including ocean acidification, sustainable fishing and wetland protection.
“I think we should start with small action, like a plastic bag ban in the city, and then we can move on to more national and global-level issues and take action against things like fossil fuels,” said Caitlin Brar, co-organizer of the strike. “I think it has to start small, and then it can grow.”
For the community members who came to watch, supporting the students was an easy decision to make.
“The students are our future,” Pat Chaves-Pickett said. “We need to empower them. They can make changes we need to make.”