Students flooded the halls with their bodies and noise as they made their way to the auditorium on the afternoon of April 1, 2010 for an assembly on climate change. Teachers were invited to allow their last period classes to attend this assembly put on by ACE (Alliance for Climate Education). The sixth grade classes from the Smith College Campus School were also invited and in attendance. Tom Weiner, one of the sixth grade teachers, helped to initiate the presentation by connecting ACE with NHS.
Members of the NHS Environmental Club began the assembly by announcing upcoming events sponsored by the club. They also invited students to attend a question and answer session immediately following the assembly. Finally, they introduced Julian Rodriguez-Drix from ACE and the high-energy assembly (on conserving energy!) commenced.
Julian ran the presentation with style and flare. His interactive multimedia presentation and lecture was upbeat, captivating, and engaging, making it a truly entertaining and fun experience for the youth who were in attendance. He left scare tactics, which are often used in climate change education, at the door and, instead, gave students serious facts that they could relate to their everyday lives. He dealt with issues of climate change in a positive and non-judgmental way by raising students' awareness of the problem at hand and the methods by which they are actively polluting and contributing to global warming. The presentation explained how climate change has been caused and continued by social influence and our culture of consumption. Students learned how their seemingly minimal consumption is connected to huge companies, large usage of fossil fuels, and incredible amounts of waste. Julian clearly summarized his message in his statement, “We're all wrapped up in [an] economic cycle that just leads to garbage.” He also discussed “super-sized” American living, excessive use of non-renewable resources, and the results of pollution in an urgent, but humorous, manner.
Julian told students that they were not to blame for the current state of our environment, but that they had to be responsible for changing it. He encouraged students to use their imaginations to combat climate change. “If the ideas aren't out there yet, they're somewhere inside you now, in your hearts, in your heads.” He then played an inspirational video, which depicted the students celebrating the hypothetical environmental changes they had made at their high school reunion forty years later. This video not only suggested a possible plan of action for the adolescent generation to take, but it also provided a positive feeling that this is a problem that they can, and must, take on. Afterward, Julian roused the audience and urged them to take a stand. He ended the assembly by encouraging students to text ACE to make their own commitment to change, creating both an energetic frenzy to pull out cell phones and an overwhelming explosion of chatter in response to his presentation.
Both high schoolers and sixth graders exited the auditorium full of hope and anticipation to act against climate change. Many high school students attended the question and answer session with Julian Rodriguez-Drix and the Environmental Club, while others provided their email addresses to be contacted with additional information about ACE. The Smith College Campus School sixth graders rushed back to their own classrooms to discuss and write about their responses to the assembly.
With Earth Day around the corner, the NHS Environmental Club has many events coming up in the future. During the week of April 26, 2010, there will be a showing of the film Food Inc, a sampling of locally grown foods, various Earth Day art displays, and a composting option during lunch periods. The week of May 17, 2010 is Bike Week, during which NHS students are encouraged to ride their bikes to school. Competitions will be held and those who participate will receive tasty treats from the Environmental Club.
For more information on ACE, check out their website:. Schools or other institutions interested in scheduling their own assembly can do so through the group's website.
By Darleen Hostetler