More than 100 Loomis Chaffee students participated in a Youth Climate Strike demonstration at Connecticut’s State Capitol Building in Hartford on Friday to demand immediate action on global climate change.
The Loomis activists, who missed part of the class day for the demonstration, joined millions of concerned young people taking part in Climate Strike events worldwide. The global effort aimed to pressure world leaders to take action at the United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York next week.
“The number of Loomis students who want to participate [in the Climate Strike] is encouraging because it means people care about the issue and want to commit to the cause,” said junior Sophie Rodner, one of three environmental proctors — student leaders in Loomis’ sustainability programs — who organized events in advance of Friday’s walkout.
The Loomis organizers were inspired by the momentum of grass-roots movements and by the work of youth climate activists, including 16-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden and Loomis senior Anya Sastry, who is the national outreach director for the U.S. Youth Climate Strike organization.
On Monday and Wednesday, students made posters and signed a banner to carry during the march and demonstration. On Thursday evening Anya; the three head e-proctors, juniors Kelly Eng, Griffen Malkin, and Sophie; and members of the student organization Project Green led a community conversation about climate change and what Loomis students can do to initiate positive change at Loomis and in their home communities. Eric LaForest, Keller Family Director of the Norton Family Center for the Common Good, facilitated the open discussion, and both the Norton Center and the Alvord Center for Global & Environmental Studies sponsored the forum. The student leaders shared information about Friday’s strike and encouraged their peers to stay engaged by following news media coverage, following #ClimateStrike, and using #LCThinkGreen on social media.
At 11 a.m. on Friday, the students and several faculty advisors mustered in the Scanlan Campus Center and then marched, signs aloft, into the Windsor town center, where they boarded a local train to Hartford. They marched from the Hartford train station to the Capitol Building, where they gathered at noon with hundreds of others representing local schools, community organizations, and concerned citizens to demand that lawmakers and citizens work together to address climate change. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal was among the people in attendance. Loomis students expressed their views on climate change with local radio and television news media including Fox 61 News and the local NPR affiliate who were covering the event.
The students returned to campus energized by the experience, and the environmental proctors and Project Green leaders have more activities planned for the rest of the school year to maintain student focus on issues related to the environment and sustainability.