WINCHESTER — For half an hour, about 30 Millbrook High School students walked out of school to strike against global climate change.
The strike at Millbrook was a part of a global movement against climate change that launched Sept. 20. Friday marked the second wave of global protests and strikes. About 170 John Handley High School students participated in a strike last week against the same issue.
Handley students had specific demands for their school to address climate change, while Millbrook students held their strike to get parents to consider how to address climate change when they vote in the election on Nov. 5.
Millbrook’s strike was organized by senior Azrael Stavely, 17, president of the school’s Young Democrats Club. Students left class from noon to 12:30 p.m.
The Millbrook students who demonstrated are worried about their future and their possible children’s future in a time of growing calls to address climate change.
Signs by students expressed varying concerns. One sign read, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention,” while another wrote, “Why are we studying for a future we won’t have?”
At one point, students marched around the school once as they chanted: “What do we want?” “Climate justice!” “When do we want it?” “Now!”
“As students, we stand here searching for climate justice for our futures,” Azrael told the crowd of students during the strike. “As students, we want to send a message to our leaders, our parents and our community that we all need to do better.”
Millbrook senior Casey Woolsey, 16, also spoke, adding that she missed a lesson in school so she could demonstrate to adults that there’s a need to address climate change.
“I believe it’s a bigger consequence to ignore what we are facing than to face school discipline for striking,” Casey said.
Students told school administrators ahead of time that they would be doing the strike. Several participants said they didn’t feel supported by the administration.
In a statement sent to The Star, Frederick Public School Superintendent David Sovine said the students in Friday’s demonstration are to be “commended for conducting themselves in an orderly manner.”
“Civility is an important trait for individuals to express their views and consider differing opinions,” Sovine said in the statement.
However, he added that while the division respects the right of students to express their viewpoints, holding demonstrations outside during regular school hours pose safety concerns and takes away from “valuable instructional time.”
Another senior who participated in the strike was Tori Garrett, 17, who told The Star after the strike that the demonstration was not about politics but rather the future of the planet.
“The world is watching you, so use your voice,” Millbrook senior Myah Goines, 17, said at the strike. “Because we will either go down in history or be vilified by it.”