On Friday, Sept. 20, four KO students and three faculty advisors traveled to the Hartford Capitol to participate in one of the many worldwide environmental protests taking place. This Hartford protest was inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist who has committed her life to raising awareness and urging change for this worldwide issue.
Senior Jacqui Ouelette, the Student Government speaker, made it possible for KO students to take part in this historic protest. “I organized KO participation for the event because I like giving people a chance to act on issues they find important,” Jacqui said. “Organizing it was a struggle because of the time crunch, so I did a lot of writing letters and waiting to hear back when I didn’t really have time to wait.”
Senior Jacqui Ouelette, senior Jaden DiMauro, senior Alyssa Pilecki, and sophomore Trinity LaFountain all attended the protest. “I decided to go because I feel strongly that it is not enough just to have opinions,” Jaden said. “As a community, we have to do something pragmatic about what we believe if we are truly concerned about making a difference.” Other students went simply for the experience. “I decided to go to the protest because I didn’t know much about the issue and wanted to get more informed and involved,” Trinity said.
There was a great turnout at the Capitol building in Hartford. “There was a really diverse group of people there,” Alyssa said, “There were elderly people, students, and even small kids.” The hundreds of attendees carried signs with climate change slogans on them, and some people even dressed up. The KO students brought signs that read “Bet the dinosaurs thought they had time left too” and “Wake up: The World is Ending!” KO students particularly enjoyed looking at all the other creative signs. Some other creative signs included: “No Planet B,” “We speak for the ones that can’t,”“The planet used to be a lot cooler,” and “Trash is not scrumptious.”
At the protest, there was a wide array of speakers that offered different perspectives on the global climate crisis. “My favorite part was the speeches because it really taught me a lot on the issue,” Trinity said. Faculty advisor Lisa Bailey also enjoyed this aspect of the protest. “I was really impressed with how well organized the speeches were,” Ms. Bailey said. “There was a 15 year old from UCONN who was amazing.” There were over 10 different speakers from different backgrounds.
One part that stood out to the students was a mediator who came to stage and led spiritual chants. “They were very strange but meaningful and enjoyable to do. He would tell us how to move our bodies and what to say in order to recreate certain animals,” Alyssa said.
Overall, the students felt as if it was an impactful experience that was worth missing class for. “I think it had a pretty big impact on the students,” Ms. Bailey said. “They all came away with a greater appreciation for what is going on and a feeling that there are other people who also care about the climate crisis. I think they really realised that they are part of a much bigger mission and they should be proud of that.”