Students throughout Berkshires will join in Climate Strike calls for action

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Aviva Skoblow and her fellow Pittsfield High School students want to be heard on the subject of climate change.

So, at 10:15 a.m. Friday, they will take to the front steps of the school on East Street to make some noise.

"We'll be out there screaming at the cars driving by," she said. "We'll be trying to put into perspective how dangerous climate change is getting."

They also will be waving signs, chanting slogans, and reciting some of the impacts and naming refugees and victims of climate change. At noon, they will head to Park Square to join a number of other groups participating in the strike.

"Just never underestimate a small group of angry citizens," said Skoblow, one of the organizers of the strike at PHS. "We are really mad."

Students across the Berkshires, the commonwealth and the world will be walking out of schools Friday and speaking out for more dramatic action to counter the dangerous global effects of climate change. Actions also are planned at other local schools, including Taconic, Wahconah and Mount Greylock high schools and even Williamstown Elementary School.

More than 10,000 adults and young people are expected join the Boston Climate Strike, marching from City Hall Plaza to the Massachusetts Statehouse. Strike organizers anticipate that it will be the largest climate strike in Boston history.

Mary Stucklen, program manager for the Berkshire Zero-Waste Initiative, part of the Berkshire Environmental Action Team, organized a couple of buses to carry about 80 student activists to join the strike in Boston. Joining them will be students from local high schools and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. They will leave from the Lee Big Y at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

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"The more people who participate, the better," Stucklen said. "The climate crisis is real and getting worse. We only have 10 years to turn it around. So, we'll be asking what can you do to help us save the planet — we all have to do something."

In Williamstown, Mount Greylock students will be joined by students from Williamstown Elementary School and Williams College on Friday afternoon, after school, at the front of the First Congregational Church of Williamstown on Main Street to demand action on the climate.

"The global Climate Strike should be important to everybody, everywhere," said Brooke Phelps, a senior at Mount Greylock Regional School and co-leader of the Youth Environment Squad. "This strike is an opportunity for me to act upon the injustice that is being done to our Earth."

Building on a historic surge of student protests and strikes for climate action in over 150 countries, Friday's event comes ahead of the U.N. Summit on Climate Change three days later, when world leaders will convene in New York with the goal of furthering the effort to counter climate degradation.

The strike is an intergenerational, intersectional effort that will be followed by a nationwide Week of Action connecting the climate movement to civic engagement.

To signal the urgency of global climate crisis, First Congregational Church has decided to fly the American flag upside down during the Williamstown demonstration. Hanging a flag upside down is an internationally recognized sign of distress, a call for help, an SOS, according to church member Sam Smith.

Speakers at the Williamstown rally will include students from Mount Greylock, Williamstown Elementary, Williams College, Buxton School, Pine Cobble School and local community members.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.


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