Seventh-grade students at Cambridge Friends School (CFS) were able to virtually lobby Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s office in support of the Climate Action Rebate Act. The School transitioned to online learning the week following state mandated school closures and has found innovative ways to keep students engaged in their learning, including their ongoing studies about climate and climate change.
In late September, the entire CFS Middle School participated in the Boston Climate Strike. For many, this was their first rally/march, and they were able to experience a movement organized and led by youth. Several students met Senator Ed Markey, co-author of The Green New Deal, many students toured the State House to better understand how the local government works, and some even wrote letters to local and national representatives. Additionally, three middle-schoolers were featured on the front page of The Boston Globe.
Empowered and motivated from this experience, CFS seventh-graders began independently organizing themselves to strike every Friday afternoon in the fall. As a group, they stood at the bus stop in Porter Square holding signs saying “Fridays for Future. Sick of Empty Promises!” In December, a group of students joined a sit-in at the State House, and were captured on WCVB News.
More recently, students have been exploring their own relationship with climate change through writing about why they are passionate about ending the climate crisis. They looked at recent literature around the effect of the pandemic on levels of air and water pollution and considered what they can learn about the kinds of policy changes that could have a lasting impact on reversing the current climate change trends around the globe. After reading about the Climate Action Rebate Act, students then met with Alicia Cannon from Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), to learn more about the bill and how to lobby.
At the end of April, students practiced their roles in lobbying, referencing a virtual lobby visit road map provided by FCNL. A schedule was then prepared for each student to share their voice on a call that they joined on their phones while in an online class on Google Meet. Students were able to lobby Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s office in support of the Climate Action Rebate Act and continue their critical work.
Reflecting on the experience, Middle School Science Teacher Rebecca Conner stated, “It was incredible to watch the students continue to fight for something they are so passionate about, despite the COVID-19 crisis we are in at this time. Watching different students take on different roles and work with each other to successfully lobby Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s office was an experience I’ll never forget as an educator.” Alicia Cannon, Program Assistant, Sustainable Energy & Environment for FCNL further added, “It was a joy to work with students who are politically motivated and excited to be a part of real change. The conversation with staff was both natural and professional. These students are – and will continue to be – great environmental advocates!”
Continuing their extensive curriculum online, students will meet with several experts in the Cambridge community regarding preparing Cambridge for climate change mitigation. This will lead into their final letter writing to Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley as a follow-up to their lobbying.
Click here to see highlights of the seventh-graders virtually lobbying.