Education

‘It’s our mess to clean up.’ Climate strikers at Lexington high school challenge adults.

Students at Lexington’s STEAM Academy High School on Friday shut down the power in their classrooms and left their school building on East Sixth Street as they took part in the Global Climate Strike that has been occurring all over the world in the last week.

They formed a line on North Limestone Street near STEAM’s campus to encourage people who drove by to think about changes in climate patterns and increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuels. Some Transylvania University students were among those who came to support them. One sign in the crowd of students who gathered peacefully said, ”Save the Turtles.”

Posing the general question, “What future are we preparing for if we continue to destroy our planet?,” students took to words, poetry, music and art to reflect that they were passionate about their future and, according to a statement “were no longer going to be bystanders as governments looked the other way regarding climate change.”

In over 150 countries, on days encompassing September 20 and September 27, people have been supporting climate strikers and demanding an end to the age of fossil fuels , according to the website globalclimatestrike.net.

Marty Vaughan, an English teacher at STEAM, said that students at his school were astute about what was going on in the world. He said they were inspired, in part, by teen climate activist Greta Thunberg and her recent admonishment of world leaders at the United Nation to find solutions.

Vaughan said STEAM students were calling for global leaders to protect the environment and to acknowledge that current policies are not adequate.

“We are just trying to get the word out about climate change. Not politics, not anything else,” said Trayvon Mason, a ninth grader. “If adults don’t do anything about it, then it’s our mess to clean up.”

Elizabeth Haley, also a freshman, said, “People need to become more aware of what’s going on around them on this earth.”

Emma English, a ninth grader at STEAM, said that policies that would prevent climate change include setting local emission goals, encouraging electric vehicles, and incentivizing carbon farming -- agricultural methods that emphasize carbon.

Climate change affects everything, she said, including health, food, water supply, energy, and transportation, making it a serious issues that needs to be addressed, she said.

“If we do not start trying now our world will not look the same ten years from now,” Emma said.

Vaughan described STEAM as a small and diverse, “early-college” high school. “Our culture here is amazing,” he said.

Vaughan said his students have become “incredibly invested in the future of our planet” and he expects that after Friday’s event, they will continue to work to enact changes.

“They want the adults in their lives to know that they are paying attention,” he said.

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