FARGO — A global walkout aimed at increasing awareness of climate issues is set to take place Friday, Sept. 20, with at least some local young people planning to take part.
A number of students at Ben Franklin Middle School in Fargo informed school officials they plan to participate in the walkout and school officials said they were working on a plan that would accommodate the situation, according to AnnMarie Campbell, a spokesperson for the school district.
Campbell said a similar process would take place at other schools if students inform school administrators they would like to participate in the walkout.
The demonstration will be similar to other "strikes" that have taken place around the globe since August 2018, when Greta Thunberg, a teen from Sweden, sat in front of the Swedish parliament every school day for three weeks to protest what she felt was a lack of action on climate change.
A coalition of area groups has called for local participation in Friday's walkout, which is intended to draw attention to a United Nations emergency climate summit that will be held in New York three days later.
Fargo organizers are aiming to have people gather from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at Fargo City Hall.
Groups organizing the local event include the Red River Valley Democratic Socialists of America, Sunrise Movement North Dakota and Minnesota Youth Climate Strike.
Change.org, a petition website run by a for-profit corporation, said on Thursday, Sept. 19, that a Fargo resident had started a petition urging local schools to let students take part in the walkout. As of Thursday, the online petition had been signed more than 130 times.
According to Change.org, the petition was started by Curtis Stofferahn, a retired University of North Dakota professor of sociology.
Heather Leas, a spokesperson for West Fargo Public Schools, said officials there were not aware of any students planning to take part in the walkout. She said the district neither encourages nor prohibits participation, adding, "If we do have students that wish to participate, that would be allowed."
For any students who take part, Leas said the following guidelines would apply:
- Students would be allowed to protest in the commons or outside in a safe area.
- Students participating will be monitored by administrators and/or a school resource officer.
- Students would not be marked absent or punished for skipping class.
Brenda Richman, a spokesperson for Moorhead Area Public Schools, said the district wasn't aware of any students planning to take part in the walkout, though officials were working on how they would address any requests by students to do so.
Friday's Global Climate Strike has more than 2,500 events planned worldwide, including one in every state in the U.S.