SOMA students go on strike to protest climate change

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MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Students from Columbia High School and Maplewood Middle School, and residents of South Orange and Maplewood gathered at Maplewood Town Hall on Dec. 6 to protest climate change, skipping class before catching a train to Newark to participate in the student-led North Jersey Climate Strike. In an event organized by the CHS Environmental Club and Students for Justice, students walked from their schools to the rally before parading down Valley Street chanting about climate change.

It was the second strike the students held this year after one in September, and they’re not going to be able to make up the class time they missed. They don’t care.

“There’s stuff happening that we can’t make up, but we thought this was more important than any grade we could get,” Lily Forman, a CHS junior and one of the event’s organizers, said in an interview with the News-Record at Town Hall. “It’s just as urgent as it was in September.”

Forman, co-organizer Zoe Newman and a host of other CHS students spoke at the rally, demanding energy-efficient transportation, cleaner air, clean water and a Green New Deal from lawmakers on the state and national level. Organizers thanked attendees for coming out, despite the chilly temperature.

The day’s activities didn’t end with protest, though. Students hosted a teach-in at The Woodland that evening, featuring CHS teachers, the South Orange Environmental Commission and SOMA Action talking about different aspects of climate change and how people can help.

“We’re still striking because the planet is still on fire,” Newman, also a junior at CHS, said in an interview with the News-Record at the event. “It’s frustrating. The earth doesn’t stop dying.”

Photos by Amanda Valentovic