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For South High students: Homecoming or Climate Strike

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN and TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

About 200 South High students walked out of school on Friday, Sept. 20 during the Global Climate Strike. Carrying signs, they headed to the Blue Line train station at Lake and Hiawatha to travel to St. Paul’s rally. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The 200 students who left South High School to be a part of the Global Climate Strike on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, were not allowed to participate in their homecoming football game and related activities that night.
Because of that, senior Claire Hennen made the tough choice to not attend the strike so that she could go to her last homecoming pep rally during seventh hour.
It wasn’t an easy choice to make, and she’s frustrated by the district’s decision to prohibit students from returning to school grounds for events later in the day.
“I care about climate change,” said Hennen. “It affects us, but people don’t give us the chance to say anything.”
She added, ‘That’s why I think older people need to step up for us.”

Students strike despite MPS policy
Despite the school district’s policy, many students at all grade levels participated in the Global Climate Strike held three days before the UN Climate Summit in New York City.
Protests were held in more than 150 countries around the world to demand transformative action to address the climate crisis.
The Twin Cities Youth Climate Strike began at 11:30 a.m. with students meeting at the Western Sculpture Park in St. Paul and then marching to the capitol a few blocks away. Some younger students left neighborhood schools with their parents. Many high school students took public transportation to downtown St. Paul to participate in the rally.
Julie Schultz Brown, executive director of marketing and communication for MPS said, “Like Black Lives Matter, Immigration Reform, and so many other worthwhile events, the Climate Strike was a hard call for the district. But our mission is teaching students, and we have an extremely diverse student body of more than 36,000. We strive to be fair, and also to be true to our mission of educating students. We try to avoid ‘mission creep,’ which is what happens when you lose sight of your primary focus. When you choose to protest, you are making a sacrifice. That’s one of the lessons of life.”
Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) issued the following statement in a letter sent to all families: “Climate change is a threat to our planet’s future and ultimately to our students. The science is clear, and we share responsibility as a school system, and as individuals, to leave future generations a healthy and livable Earth. There are no easy answers, but our country and our school communities must have real conversations about how to move forward.”
“MPS respects students’ First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble, and will not discipline students for the act of protesting as long as their protest remains peaceful. Our normal protocol regarding students returning to school and after-school activities continues to apply when students leave their school grounds/campuses. To be clear, if students walk out of school, they will NOT be able to return to the school for the remainder of the day or participate in after-school activities such as athletic events or homecoming even with an excused absence.”

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