Cleveland Students Take Action Against Climate Change


Clarion photo Becca Roso

Freshmen activists Charlie Abrams and Jeremy Clark pose for a picture.

By Patrick Brown, Writer

Clarion photo Yanling Joslin
Clarion photo Becca Roso
Clarion photo Becca Roso
Two freshmen give a speech on climate change.

Thousands of kids packed in and around City Hall March 15, standing on the railings, sitting on shoulders, jumping up and down, straining to see the speakers. Some led the others in chants. Near the entrance of City Hall, the speaker shouted through her megaphone to the cheers of the crowd. And, while some in the back couldn’t hear, the message was clear: climate change is the biggest problem facing our planet, and we aren’t going to stand by.

The point of the march and rally was to raise awareness and to gain support for the Clean Energy Jobs bill and The Children’s Fund and join the protests held internationally.

“The march definitely exceeded our expectations,” Jeremy Clark, freshman, said.

Another organizer, fellow Cleveland freshman Charlie Abrams said, “We had a turnout of over 3000 people, which one of the largest in the nation. We got Portland, Oregon on the headline of that, so that was cool.”

Macy Jenks, Cleveland senior, spoke at the event. The Raven Corps, the environmental plant-based organization she co-founded, helped organize the event. Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty also spoke at the protest, speaking about climate change and the fight that everyone’s a part of.

“We were hoping to achieve a large crowd and a positive environment to draw attention not only locally, but across the country. “It just helps to draw attention from government officials that climate change legislation needs to be put in place,” Jenks said.

Another main goal was to draw a lot of media attention and they definitely achieved it. Six news media outlets (seven, including the Clarion) were there covering the march, interviewing students and taking pictures.

But, while the protest was a success, it didn’t come without its challenges. “It was tough to organize just because there were so many people doing so many aspects of the march. Communicating and organizing who does what was really challenging,” Clark said.

Not only that, but push backs from the schools were also frustrating. Abrams had his mic cut out while giving an impromptu speech at an assembly. He finished his speech anyway, shouting his message to the stands.

“We have to see climate change as the bipartisan issue it is, it isn’t a political issue,” Abrams said.

Three years ago, Abrams and Clark testified in front of the PPS school board to enact a climate change curriculum in every PPS school. Abrams testified again earlier this year and has been in talks with PPS about making schools more energy efficient. While we haven’t seen any major widespread curriculum changes yet, Cleveland teachers Jacque Fitzgerald and Paige Hazard helped students create their own climate justice units, climaxing in a Climate Change Symposium where students gave speeches and showed off projects in the auditorium.

Next on Abrams’ and Clark’s list of projects is giving a different perspective to climate activism through a series of short films. Their organization, called Affected Generation, is working together with Renew Oregon, and Oregon Environmental Council to film and produce short films about the fight against climate change.


*Text S-I-G-N to 971-248-9723 to put your name on a youth climate petition to put your support behind House Bill 2020 to enact a carbon policy