Students take a break from class for walkout

Students from Eastlake High School and other area schools left their classrooms recently in a sign of support of a global student walkout calling attention to climate change.

Eastlake High School senior and climate change walkout organizer Sonya Googins said she felt inspired by the hundreds of students who participated in the climate change walkout at her school and around the world.

“We really just need to make sure that we’re getting in front of this issue as quickly as possible before it becomes something that is irreversible,” Googins said.
Last Friday, walkouts led by youths took place in the South Bay and across the globe to draw attention to catastrophic climate change and demand government leaders take action.

The global climate strike, which preceded the United Nations Climate Action Summit, was galvanized by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who has been skipping school on Fridays to protest outside of Swedish parliament since August 2018.

SanDiego350, a local volunteer organization with the mission of preventing the worst impacts of climate change and climate injustice, listed Eastlake High School, Bonita Vista High School, Otay Ranch High School and Olympian High School as the South Bay high schools participating in the global climate strike.

At Eastlake, instead of walking out of class, the climate strike took the form of a high energy 30-minute event at the outdoor amphitheater where students spoke about their climate change concerns and pledged to make changes in their lives to reduce their carbon footprints.

Students held colorful signs that read “our voices must rise so that sea levels don’t,” “nicotine ain’t the only thing killing our lungs” and “make Earth cool again.”

“My biggest concerns involving climate change are definitely the fact that we’re inheriting a huge problem and it’s a problem that we could’ve stopped a long time ago if policy makers and politicians in positions of power would’ve listened to scientists,” Googins said.

Though she was happy with the turnout at EHS and the support from staff, Googins said the climate change action can’t end with the climate change walkout.

“We kind of used this event as our kick-off to our Eco Club that we’re starting at Eastlake High School, and hopefully we’ll be able to pass it on as seniors to underclassmen,” Googins said. “We really want them to start having events that inform people on the issues that we’re going to be facing in our lives, and make sure that people really understand the importance of it.”

Bonita Vista High School senior Lillian Landre organized the walkout at her school, which took place during sixth period and featured speeches from BVHS alumni Councilman Steve Padilla and State Sen. Ben Hueso.

“It was a great experience to be there and to see that activism, to see young people who represent the future lifting their voices up to talk about the responsibility we have to act now,” Padilla said.

At the BVHS climate walkout, students vowed to act now in their own lives in a variety of ways including eating less beef, using less plastic, using reusable bags and going vegan.

“It’s amazing that these climate strikes were global. This issue affects everyone and if it’s getting this much attention, change must be made because people can’t ignore it,” Landre said. “It felt good to be a part of a global event.”

Students also wrote down the ways in which they will be affected by climate change in their lifetimes on ribbons and tied them to a fence to reflect the ways climate change will impact their generation and generations to come.

“I’m concerned about all of the extreme weather events that are already killing many people, and the collapse of ecosystems from extinction, which will lead to us not having any food,” Landre said, echoing the sentiments of Thunberg.

Thunberg is part of #ChildrenVs.ClimateCrisis, a group that includes activists from all over the world who just brought forth a legal complaint to the United Nations against Germany, Brazil, France, Argentina and Turkey on Sept. 23 regarding how children’s human rights are being violated as a result of their leader’s failure to address climate change.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering,” Thunberg said during a speech at the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York on Monday. “People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”