Winston-Salem High School Activists To Strike Over Lack Of Climate Change Action

Winston-Salem High School Activists To Strike Over Lack Of Climate Change Action

3:07pm Sep 14, 2021
Student Climate Alliance founder Owen Clifford is a senior at R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem. He's pictured here in front of the school auditorium on campus. DAVID FORD/WFDD

A group of Triad high school students is planning to strike this week to draw attention to climate change issues. They are calling on government representatives to act. 

On Friday, September 17 at noon, some students will leave their schools, gather at city hall in Winston-Salem, and demand that local officials work transparently to reduce greenhouse emissions. 

The protest is spearheaded by R.J. Reynolds High School senior Owen Clifford whose Student Climate Alliance website includes specific calls to action at the state and federal levels. Clifford says he’s aware of the strike’s potential negative impact on his academic career, but he says with the numbers of climate events on the rise, doing nothing may rob his entire generation of its future.

"I know that the task ahead of us is really scary and it’s such a big problem that it can often be demotivating to want to act," says Clifford. "I know there was a time when I was very depressed, and I thought that there was nothing that I could do. But if you just start, if you just do one small thing no matter how small toward helping this crisis it will go a long way."

He adds the student strikes will continue every Friday at noon until all Student Climate Alliance demands are met.

"Then, I know that Senator Burr has an office in town, so we can protest there," says Clifford. "And we can take it to Raleigh. The last step is to go to the national government in Washington. Obviously you can't start out with that, so, I'm just hoping that I can build a movement."

Clifford says the website has received roughly 300 page visits in the last 48 hours, and he's received verbal commitments from at least a dozen of his peers who plan on participating in the student strike this Friday.

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