Arcata High Walkout, A Generation for Change

Levi Robbins, Digital Team

September 28, 2019

News spreads fast. This is a statement that holds especially true during the four gossip driven years that every person in the United States is obligated to endure: High School. The rapid dissemination of information has been heightened even further with the increased use of social media as a platform for news. I learned about the climate march several days before it was scheduled through an Instagram post calling students to stand up and walk out for the health of our planet. Like wildfire, news of the walkout seemed to spread until it seemed everyone had at least heard of the free opportunity to ditch school. 

As I left class, my ears were greeted with the roar of HSU students ready to join forces with the younger generation. Over a hundred Arcata High students, according to Dean of Students Mark Salhburg, walked out of class at noon, allying themselves with the millions of other students worldwide. 

The march down to the Arcata plaza was a hazy wave of embitterment. Chanting and shouting filled the air as students let out their often vehement opinions on how the world was being fucked. Common themes among these included the lack of governmental action concerning the climate, frustration at corporate greed, and general outcry at the state of our Earth’s health. 

Lucia Bomelli, an exchange student from Italy, commented on both the United States and Italy’s inaction, “Everybody is just talking.” 

As students marched through the streets of Arcata, cars honked their horns in solidarity and bystanders thanked the students for being so courageous in their protest. 

At the plaza, the hoard of students was met by enamored but bitter crowds of older generations looking to offer their support to the embattled crowd.

“I was born in 1954 and I don’t know if there is going to be a world for my yet born grand-children, much less my children,” said Arcata resident Leslie Quinn. 

When asked, Nishyra Aron-Williams, a senior at Arcata High, passionately voiced her vision of what should be done, “This is our earth, this is our home, we should take care of it.” 

Nine speakers were given the chance to share their most impassioned criticisms and ways they envisioned that the human race could move forward in a new green direction. Two of these speakers happened to be from Arcata High School: seniors Jack Taylor and Zoe Reiss. Both of them channeled their best impression of Greta Thunberg (16-year-old Swedish climate champion who recently addressed the United Nations) and let loose on the inexplicable damage humans have inflicted upon our home. 

School walkouts seem to have a reputation as just being an excuse for students to leave class early. However, I noticed that students seemed to approach this event with mostly pure intentions. Students are attuned to the rapidly escalating existential threat that climate is, and they recognize how urgent it is for those in power to understand this. 

Shannon Kresge, the famed Environmental Science teacher at Arcata High voiced her support for students when she said, “If we don’t act on climate change now, your future will be ruined.” 

This march proved the power of younger generations to stand up for their futures when the old guard has taken a step towards the saying: “ignorance is bliss.”