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Citizenship Spotlight: RCDS Students Participate in International Climate Strike

We are young, but we are educated, we are energized, and we are fighting to take back our future. - Peggy Helman '20

In solidarity with young people around the globe, RCDS Upper School students participated in a climate strike with their counterparts at Rye High School. The strike was part of the Global Climate Strike movement, an effort spanning 150 countries of "people stepping up to support young climate strikers and demand an end to the age of fossil fuels." The strike was a culminating follow-up to the Fridays for Future movement, where young people have been leaving classrooms on Fridays in an effort to raise awareness about climate change. The strike was timed to precede the U.N. Climate Action Summit, and young people and the millions of others who support them hope it sends a clear message to policymakers that climate change must be addressed.

Encouraging fellow students to engage in active, purpose-driven citizenship, RCDS Environmental Club President Peggy Helman '20 called Upper Schoolers to action to participate in "protesting governments and large corporations for their neglect of environmental protection and demanding climate action across the world." Students, teachers, and administrators gathered at the Cohen Center to prepare for the walk to town, but they weren't alone. In a moving tribute, Lower Schoolers had assembled in the Khoury Courtyard chanting in support of their older schoolmates and holding signs and posters they had been working on all week. The Upper Schoolers then marched to the Village Green outside Rye City Hall and the Rye Public Library, where they converged with Rye High students and members of the local community to add their collective voice to the global chorus of climate action strikers. The day was about engagement, peaceful protest, and activism with purpose, and RCDS students exhibited their character and leadership throughout.

I was very impressed with and proud of our Upper School students' participation in today's Youth Climate March as they organized the entire event and displayed passion and commitment regarding this important global issue. While gathering for the march to Rye City Hall, the Upper School students were encouraged by the posters and enthusiastic cheers of Lower Schoolers who had gathered in the Khoury Courtyard. This active, positive citizenship on the part of our students gives one a sense of optimism that climate issues will be effectively addressed moving forward! - Headmaster Scott Nelson

In leading this effort, the Environmental Club was supported by Director of Sustainability Kerry Linderoth and Director of Public Purpose Rebecca Drago. Said Ms. Linderoth, "It is our hope that this experience has left the students feeling empowered to use their voices to stand up for meaningful causes." Both administrators were heartened by the hard work and dedication of the students involved. In addition to making change through organizing and participating in the strike, the students practiced skills that they will continue to use throughout their lives. Ms. Drago clarified, "Planning a rally requires intensive organizing skills, both big picture visioning and detailed logistics. Peggy and her peers did an incredible job."

Commenting on the movement's impact, Peggy said, "Every strike, every event, and every person who participated in the strike for climate action in Rye and around the world counts towards creating the change we demanded today. I am overwhelmed in the best way possible by today, and I am hopeful that our community will continue to use our voices to enact and demand change." As she and her peers continue to be engaged in this meaningful movement, they will no doubt remember this experience. Peggy's words from her speech at the Village Green aptly capture the power of these young leaders' collective commitment and dedication, "We are young, but we are educated, we are energized, and we are fighting to take back our future."