With permission, La Jolla High students protest climate inaction

About 100 La Jolla High School students walked out of school 45 minutes early on Friday, Sept. 20, as part of the Global Climate Strike. Students chanted and carried signs supporting climate action.

About 100 La Jolla High School (LJHS) students walked out of school 45 minutes early on Friday, Sept. 20, demanding political action on global warming. It was part of the Global Climate Strike, in which more than 15 youth-led protests around San Diego — and 5,000 in more than 150 countries — coaxed students out of their schools three days before world leaders were set to gather at the United Nations for a climate summit.

The LJHS students assembled at 2:20 p.m., the beginning of sixth period, in the main courtyard. Ten minutes later, they marched off campus, then east on Nautilus Street until they got to Fay Avenue, where they split up into groups covering all four corners of that intersection.

“Stop denying the Earth is dying!” was one of the slogans they shouted at passing cars until school ended at 3:16 p.m. Another was: “No more fuel, no more oil, keep the carbon in the soil!” (Many cars honked in response.)

The march was organized by the environmental activist group San Diego 350, with help from La Jolla High students Emma Valenzuela and Maya Schultz.

“The youth showing that this is our problem, too, is going to make a difference,” said Valenzuela, a 16-year-old sophomore. “Since we can’t vote, this is one of the ways we can spread our voices. So I think that does make a difference.”

No La Jolla High students faced repercussions for leaving school early since they all had to have their parents sign a blue slip — similar to what they would sign for a field trip — indicating knowledge of their involvement. (The “strike” received the blessing of the San Diego Unified School District.) In fact, principal Chuck Podhorsky, demonstrated right alongside them.

“I’m super excited for the students,” he said. “They are the change that we’re looking for. We should be standing behind them and letting them lead the way, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

When asked if she thought it wouldn’t have meant more if the students faced repercussions for leaving, Valenzuela replied: “I guess I would agree with that, but it’s still a protest and people are showing that they care.”