Rainier Beach High 11th grader Angelina Riley reads a letter to the Seattle School Board and Superintendent Denise Juneau, signed by 16 of 17 Seattle high school Superintendent Student Advisory Board members, urging them to “excuse absences of all students participating in the climate strike this Friday.” The letter was authored by Ingraham High 11th Grader, Talia Glick, and Nathan Hale 12th Grader, Fran Shannon, and read by Riley at the School Board meeting on Wednesday, September 18th
Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
Dear Seattle School Board and Superintendent Juneau,
We, as members of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Board, a representation of student’s voices throughout the district, urge you to excuse absences of all students participating in the climate strike this Friday.
Youth around the world have been striking for their right to a healthy future, and they are calling on all of us to join them. That’s why on Sept. 20, 2019, we will be walking out of our schools to join millions of people around the world demanding climate justice and an end to the age of fossil fuels.
These are the words that students have sent to their teachers, administrators, and schools across the district, declaring their intent to walk out and strike on September 20th. Students are prepared to accept consequences from their schools for receiving unexcused absences, which is a testament to the passion of the countless students worldwide who are prioritizing the strike above their education. However, some students want to strike, but fear the repercussions of unexcused absences. If the school board decides to excuse these absences, student participation could largely increase, leading to the strike having more of an impact in our city, country, and the global movement.
This is a movement that we strongly encourage you to support. The threat of climate change is the largest threat our generation faces. The things we learn in school will be of no use when we are fighting for our lives and clean air and water. As Greta Thunberg said, “I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.” We as a board feel that this issue is of utmost importance, and must be addressed. Education is supposed to be to benefit the students. While school is a valuable institution, fighting to save our planet through this strike is an honorable act that will ultimately make us better citizens. Enforcing unexcused absences for this strike is essentially punishing students for trying to make a change in the world, and we urge you to reconsider, and decide to excuse these absences.
New York City public schools, the country’s largest school district, has announced that they will excuse absences for students attending the strike. This sets a significant precedent— if New York City can do it, we can too. We hope that Seattle Public Schools will live up to its goal of placing “the interests of students above all others in every decision we make.” Attending this strike is the interest of students, not because we enjoy skipping school, but because we see how urgent the climate crisis is and we want to do something about it, to ensure that our very futures are safe.
Fran Shannon (Grade 12, Nathan Hale), Talia Glick (Grade 11, Ingraham), Ramona Blackbird (Grade 11, The Center School), Ariana Phillips (Grade 12, Middle College High School), Jonathan Brown (Grade 11, Ingraham), Dylan Blanford (Grade 11, Garfield High School), Myhanh Wong (Grade 12, Franklin High School), Angelina Riley (Grade 11, Rainier Beach High School), Katie Bishop (Grade 10, The Center School), Azure Savage (Grade 12, Garfield High School), Isabella Crone-Baron (Grade 11, Ballard High School), Samuel Sheynkman (Grade 12, Roosevelt High School), Aneesa Roidad (Grade 12, Ballard High School), Iliana Soto (Grade 12, World School), Rena Mateja (Grade 10, Cleveland High School), Sarah Perez Olmedo (Grade 10, Cleveland High School), Rose Glen (Grade 12, Chief Sealth International School)