Around 100 Evanston Township High School students walked out of school on Monday afternoon, to highlight a demand for more environmental consciousness by the ETHS board and administration.
Specifically, the students, who then walked to Fountain Square for a rally, want ETHS to hire a full-time “sustainability coordinator.”
As they headed downtown, demonstrators chanted “Dr. Witherspoon, do your job,” and “Dr. Campbell, do your job.” Witherspoon is the current ETHS superintendent. Campbell is the school principal, who will become superintendent when Witherspoon retires at the end of June.
Lily Aaron, one of the protest organizers, and leader of the group E-Town Sunrise, told the rally that “our administration and school board have failed students” by not hiring the environmental planner.
Half-a-dozen other environmental and progressive groups were also involved in the event, which occurred on the same day that Evanston’s Environment Board was to ask City Council to declare a Climate Emergency, in an effort to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The high school demonstrators said that a sustainability coordinator would work on reducing the ETHS carbon footprint, help develop a climate change curriculum, and, according to a news release from the organizers, “honor … the intersection of mental health and the climate crisis.”
Dozens of students from Dewey Elementary School, not far from ETHS, lined Lake Street to cheer the high schoolers as they passed by.
The young children waved homemade signs about the environment and climate change. One fifth grader told Evanston Now “we need the earth to survive.”
The high school walkout was supposed to take place this past Friday, on Earth Day. But Earth Day became Rain Day, or more accurately, Downpour Day, so the demonstration was rescheduled.
One thing the climate activists still have to combat is apathy.
When they walked out of ETHS at 1:30 p.m., it appeared that an equal number of students left the building as well, but headed in different directions, using the walkout as an opportunity to skip last period, and go home.