Camden students demand action on climate change

Local students participate in global Climate Strike
By Daniel Dunkle and Morgan Brooke | Mar 15, 2019
Video by: Daniel Dunkle
Photo by: Daniel Dunkle Students from Watershed School and Camden Hills march for action on climate change Friday, March 15 on Main Street in Camden.

Camden — About 20 students from Watershed School and Camden Hills Regional High School marched through the streets of Camden waving protest signs Friday, March 15, as part of a movement of young people around the world demanding action on climate change.

The students marched to the municipal offices for the town of Camden, brandished their signs and chanted outside the Town Office. They then went inside to confront Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell and Select Board members Alison McKellar and Taylor Benzie, demanding that action be taken now.

Specifically, the students would like to see enough solar panels installed at Sagamore Farms to provide up to 40 percent of the power needs of the town government.

The students joined young people around the world, noting that youth are concerned that they  and their children will experience the negative fallout from global climate change. They made the point that they are tired of waiting, arguing for a stronger sense of urgency on the issue.

The march took place at noon.

Town officials pointed out that they have been working with the town's Energy Committee on initiatives including replacing old streetlights with LED lights that save energy, and they are even looking at the possibility of using hybrid vehicles for police cruisers.

Watershed student and Camden Herald intern Morgan Brooke wrote up her thoughts on the event, which are as follows:

History was made Friday, March 15. Across the globe, students from nearly 100 countries left school and marched for climate action.

Watershed School became the seventh recorded school in Maine to plan a climate change walkout. Students stood in front of the Town Office, and many stayed behind to talk to town employees.

The Climate Strike began one August day in Sweden, when a 15-year-old girl sat down on the steps of the Swedish parliament building with a hand-painted banner reading, “skolstrejk för klimatet” (school strike for climate). Now, eight months later, 16-year old Greta Thunberg has become a public figure for activism. Today, she will stand outside the Swedish parliament building, as she has done almost every Friday all year. But this time, she will not be alone. She will be joined by thousands of students around the world. “Some people can just let things go, but I can’t, especially if there’s something that worries me or makes me sad,” Greta said.

After discussing Greta’s story in a weekly all-school meeting, the students at Watershed School decided to join the protest. Pearl Benjamin, 17, and a junior at Watershed, decided to organize the event. During lunchtimes throughout the week, students made signs for the protest.

The students were marching in favor of the idea of putting solar panels on three acres of Sagamore Farms. The town could increase its solar installation to 40 percent to meet its climate needs just by filling those three acres with solar panels.

“We are a small school, but we all knew that every voice counts,” one Watershed student said. “We need to take action on a huge issue that is affecting every second of our future.”

Benjamin noted that climate change will directly affect people in Midcoast Maine.

“Not all teenagers get to grow up beside the ocean and eat local lobster in the summer and ski on our town slopes in the winter. We don’t take it for granted, because we know it might not last. Our Maine lifestyle and economy is in danger as our oceans rise, warm and acidify. If we continue on our current track, it is unlikely that my children will be able to enjoy the same Camden that I did.”

Watershed School’s Global Climate Change class will continue to work with the town on  climate change in Camden, and all the school's students are prepared to participate with the Energy Committee and the Select Board to advance change.

Watershed School students protest on Main Street in Camden Friday, March 15. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
Students in Camden join young people around the world March 15 in demanding action on climate change. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
Students line up along Main Street in Camden in front of the municipal offices to protest inaction on climate change. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
Students from Watershed School and Camden Hills pile into the municipal offices to demand action on climate change from town officials. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
Camden Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell meets with students March 15 during the global climate strike. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell, left, meets with students at the Town Office March 15 to talk about what can be done about climate change. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
Camden Select Board member Alison McKellar, center, meets with students to talk about climate change March 15. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
Pete Kalajian of the Energy Committee and Watershed School talks to town officials during the student climate strike. (Photo by: Daniel Dunkle)
Watershed students make signs for the global climate strike. (Photo by: Morgan Brooke)
Watershed students organize and plan to march on Camden for action on climate change. (Photo by: Morgan Brooke)
Watershed students march in Camden for action on climate change March 15. (Photo by: Morgan Brooke)
Comments (11)
Posted by: Don Dickinson | Mar 18, 2019 11:32

I hope these students cared enough about our environment that they properly took care of their leftover debris when they were done protesting  unlike many of their counterparts across the globe that just piled it up and walked away leaving it for somebody else to clean it up.

Posted by: Ananur Forma | Mar 18, 2019 09:15

Hopefully students are doing this in ALL high schools across our country. We have a leader (our President) who does not care about such things.

Am very proud of the Watershed School's action. The students obviously are empowered by their own conscience, their teachers, their parents and their peers. This is ideal, in my opinion. I hope they got this article on facebook, etc. I'm not on any social media so I don't know....spread the word!!!!!

Posted by: Jeff Sukeforth | Mar 16, 2019 19:50

My humble apologies not Steve Betts at all but Dan Dunkle is what I meant to say in my previous.  Sorry Steve, just got done reading an article you did prior, shouldn't think about two separate pieces at the same time.


Posted by: Jeff Sukeforth | Mar 16, 2019 19:48

I also re-read the wording about "confronting" the Town Manager and "demanding" answers etc.  I only hope this is another one of Steve Betts' way of wording a piece to bring about our comments. However, if true and the students did confront and demand then indeed they need better mentors and role models.

Posted by: Sumner Kinney | Mar 16, 2019 15:33

Barrie - the opening sentence says Watershed and Camden Hills Regional High School.  Is there an error in the article?  I thought that there was a group from each student body.


Posted by: Barrie C Keegan | Mar 16, 2019 13:56

To Sumner Kinney: this was the Watershed School, not Camden Public Schools, just FYI.

Posted by: Sumner Kinney | Mar 16, 2019 08:20

What has CHRHS become?  Looks like the students are being taught far left political activism.

Did you read that they confronted the town manager and selectman?

The students "demanded" something be done.

Is that the process these kids are being taught as the correct way to make change?

Carry banners and chant?

I would hope that they were being taught both sides of any issue and let them make their own decisions.  Allowing this to continue in the public school system is sad.  If I were a property tax payer in that school district I would be very disappointed how my education dollars are being spent.

The article does not mention the time of day on Friday that this took place.  Was it during the school day?  Was paid staff there?  If so that is more reason for concern.

Teach these students how to manage their checkbooks instead of political activism.

Watershed School is private I believe so they can teach what they wish.



Posted by: Kimberley Heilig | Mar 16, 2019 06:59

I am so grateful for these students' foresight and initiative.  Hopefully they draw enough attention to the issue that our elected officials cannot continue to ignore its gravity.  Our youth are our future.  Thank you!

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Mar 15, 2019 16:41

Another example of people giving HOPE to our hurting world; as did this letter from our local Synagogue:  
To the Islamic Community of Maine:
Congregation Adas Yoshuron of Rockland, Maine joins with you and the world in recoiling from the horror of Christchurch. You were immediately with us at the time of our tragedy in Pittsburgh, a kindness that we will never forget and one that will resonate through the ages. Now we are one with you. We know Islam as a religion of peace, and so this abject violence is even more stunning to us and to all who seek peace, reconciliation, and happiness. We mourn those who were lost. May Allah, peace be upon him, give them an easy and pleasant journey, and shower blessings on their graves.
—Dr. Clifford C. Dacso, board president, on behalf of the Adas Yoshuron community

Posted by: Karen A Grove | Mar 15, 2019 15:51

I would love to see these young folks research the possibilities of tidal power.  We have 8 foot tides that come and go twice a day.  There are countries in this world that have been using tidal power for a long time and the research on their use should be easy to find.  Solar is not the only answer.  We can do more.

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Mar 15, 2019 15:21

I am so proud of all of these fine students who really care about our future on this planet. Keep up the good work.At 84 I am too old to march with you but do send prayers as support.

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