8th Grade, Mission Hill Middle School
“Teachers have tried mostly to stay out of it, and while the administration at my school did not directly stopped us from walking out or protesting, they have made the process more difficult.”
How and when did you first learn about the climate crisis?
I’ve have heard about it for as long as I can remember.
What compelled you to organize an action and/or begin speaking about the climate crisis?
Well, the first demonstration I helped organize was the Santa Cruz Clocktower March and Rally on March 15. This March was largely inspired by Greta Thunberg. After hearing about the climate crisis and the short amount of time we had left, this was one of the first direct ways that I could take action.
Had you participated in direct action (demonstrations, strikes, rallies, etc.) before engaging in the climate movement?
Yes. Gun-control/school shootings, homelessness, and the proposal to put the library in a parking garage in downtown Santa Cruz. These have inspired me to take action because they are all important and pertain to my life.
How have your peers responded when you have asked them to participate in a demonstration with you?
Most have been unsure or felt that they need to make sure other people were walking out first. Some people just weren’t interested. Most of the time though, I could organize at least a small group of people who were support, and who would get more people to participate.
Have your family and friends been supportive? Why or why not?
Yes. My family has been very supportive and is active in the fight against climate change. Most of my friends have also been supportive, although some are not as interested in the topic.
Have teacher(s) and/or administrator(s) at your school been supportive of your organizing and leadership efforts? How, why, or why not?
Not really. Teachers have tried mostly to stay out of it, and while the administration at my school did not directly stopped us from walking out or protesting, they have made the process more difficult. Some examples of non-direct ways that have done this is by emailing and warning parents not to let kids participate, and issuing unexcused tardies.
Please describe any worries you had while planning a past action or speech and/or worries you have about planning future actions.
I was worried that people might use the protests as a way to get out of school. However, I just had to realize that that may happen, and hopefully those people would end up actually finding the demonstration meaningful, or learn something new. I was also worried that not enough people would participate.
What things might you do differently if you decided to organize another action or speak at another event?
Start organizing earlier, try to get more info to other schools and people outside of my circle.
Which of the following might be helpful contributions from an adult advisory circle?
Arranging time, place, stage, sound, etc. for after school rallies, etc., Creating community partnerships, Social media promotion, Writing press releases, Listening to / helping with youth speeches, Arranging meetings with elected officials, etc., The most important thing that adults can do is support the youth organizers in what they feel needs to be done.