Students from GMUHS, Cavendish Elementary Rally for Planet

By Tuckerman Wunderle
©2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC


On Wednesday, April 12, students from Green Mountain Union High School and Cavendish Town Elementary School flocked to Montpelier to participate in the 2nd annual Rally for the Planet, organized by the Vermont Youth Lobby.

Students from around Vermont gather on the Statehouse lawn to Rally for the Planet. All photos by Kimball Schultz.

The Green Mountain and Cavendish contingents joined about 1,400 other students from more than 50 Vermont schools, all who had piled into buses that morning, amid rainy weather that did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm.

The  Youth Lobby is a youth-founded organization committed to educating and empowering students in Vermont on climate change.

As the throng of students flowed from the Vermont College of Fine Arts to the Statehouse lawn, much of Montpelier stopped to cheer on the marchers. Posters floated along the wave of students, some bearing humorous messages such as “Stop Fracking with Mother Nature” and “Keep Earth Clean, It’s not Uranus.”

Collecting on the lawn, kids listened to speeches, poems and music centered around the global issue of climate change. The power of this collective movement was felt in one speech by Ellie Zimmerman, a student at Stowe Middle School.

“Suddenly,” she said, “this huge problem felt like something I could make a difference in solving,” invoking a huge cheer from the crowd. She went on to describe the nature of the rally, saying “I think of it kind of like a launchpad for a rocket, like this is the starting point for something really amazing to happen.” This hope was shared throughout the crowd.

Among those inspired by Ellie’s words were Green Mountain students Ben Haseltine, Sadie Wood, Sierra Kehoe and Noelle Gignoux. “Going in, I didn’t have very high expectations,” Noelle said later. “But listening to the people speak, I guess it made me realize how much we really can do.”  Sierra said, “It just showed how kids think it is a big deal.”

“If you start to educate (the kids) early it makes a big difference.”

Noelle Gignoux
GM student

Kids from Cavendish Elementary mug for the camera.

One purpose of the rally was to show Vermont lawmakers that climate change is an issue young people care about. The rally also emphasized the importance of educating the next wave of high schoolers about climate change.

“It’s really hard to grasp, even for us,” Noelle said, “but if you start to educate (the kids) early it makes a big difference.” Sadie proposed starting an environmental club at GM, which she thought would be well-supported by the faculty. “If we could pair up with the elementary school and do some activities once the club got started that would be really cool,” she suggested.

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