Why I Didn’t Participate in September’s Climate Strike


via Creative Commons

An image taken from a Climate Strike in Hamburg, Germany back in March.

BATTERY PARK – On Friday, Sept. 20th, 2019, Poly students and others across NYC walked to Battery Park with Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg to protest against climate change. I didn’t go.

I wanted to go walk with everyone, and even have experience going on protests before.  For instance, I went to Borough Hall to fight for gun control in 7th grade. But, there’s a difference between then and now. With my middle school, it was a scheduled event for everyone in the building to go out and walk, so I didn’t miss out on any classes. But if I wanted to go on this walk, I would miss out on my academic duties. This creates a dilemma: what’s more important, school or my beliefs? 

I love school, and I mean that wholeheartedly. It would stink to miss out on an interesting discussion, a fun science lab, or most crucially, important instruction. Even though I would be missing out on class for a good cause, that for some reason doesn’t excuse me from work. On the other hand, I do care about the environment. I recycle, I have a compost bin at home, mostly eat organic and sustainably sourced food, drink almond milk, push for bioplastics and am excitedly waiting for compost bins to come to my district; but am I doing enough? For example, Thunberg is a vegan, and I just can’t see myself giving up fish, chicken, and dairy until plant-based alternatives become mainstream. Am I too self-centered, caring about my meats and my grades more than the environment?

While I do support the movement, my education doesn’t pause for it. Instead of ending this on a depressing note, I want to suggest a solution: make special occasions like these half-days. Students and teachers who couldn’t go before due to work and afternoon activities now can and people who aren’t interested can just go home instead of having very empty classes. I’m sure more events like Sept. 20th will come in the future, so I believe implementing something like this would be a great idea.

But now, after reading all that, you may be thinking, “Kyle, you fool! The entire point is to miss class in order to be disruptive!” And to that, I say, “I am aware of this, and wish I could be in two places at once.”