At their morning break on Friday, students of Castilleja School in Palo Alto marched off campus as part of worldwide demonstrations calling for more urgent action on climate change.
Circling the school on Bryant Street, Embarcadero Road and Emerson Street and carrying posters they'd made, the students chanted, "What do we want? Climate action! When do we want it? Now!" and "Science not Sci-lence," according to a news release from the school.
The students were among the thousands of youth around the Bay Area who participated in protests and marches, inspired by the call-to-action of climate change activist and fellow teenager Greta Thunberg.
Palo Alto High School senior Emma Donelly-Higgins organized a lunchtime event at the intersection of Embarcadero Road and El Camino Real, outside of Paly. Up the Peninsula, the principal of Oak Knoll Elementary School in Menlo Park expected up to 100 students to walk out today.
Castilleja School eighth-grader Julia Zeitlin initiated and organized her school's walk-out and invited all students to participate.
In an email last week, Julia wrote, "It is important that we voice our concerns because we are the generation who will be carrying the weight of this burden on our shoulders," the press release stated.
After the Castilleja students returned to campus, Julia addressed them and encouraged them not to wait to lead change in the world. Last March, Julia also planned a climate protest in Palo Alto with the goal of putting pressure on political leaders to make changes and implement the Green New Deal. She and many other local students met in Rep. Anna Eshoo's office (D-Palo Alto) to make their voices heard.
About 50 Los Altos High students marched to Mountain View City Hall shortly before 10:30 a.m. Friday. Students carrying homemade signs, with some donning bright green T-shirts emblazoned with the words "climate justice," they met up with eight Mountain View High students and community members in Civic Center Plaza.
The Los Altos students planned to stay outside City Hall until around 3 p.m., reading poems, giving speeches and listening to music, according to organizer Anna Fletcher.
Youth organizers of a Climate Strike event in San Jose Friday afternoon hoped to attract 10,000 attendees. St. Francis High School juniors Sindhu Vajrala and Jamie Minden, who co-founded the Silicon Valley Youth Climate Strike, said they were coordinating with 60 public high schools, as well as middle schools, community colleges and businesses.
Adults also planned to rally and march to call attention to what they call the "climate emergency." The Peace and Justice Center and local environmental groups are gathering at Palo Alto City Hall Friday evening, from 6-8 p.m., for a rally featuring speakers climate scientist Chris Field, climate activist Marianna Grossman and others.
Though the Castilleja walk-out was run by students, some school faculty and staff of the independent all-girls middle and high school joined in, the press release stated. Head of School Nanci Kauffman expressed support for the students' march and quoted author and environmentalist Bill McKibben: "In a well-ordered society, when kids make a reasonable request, their elders should say 'yes' — in this case with real pride and hope that the next generations are standing up for what matters."
Actions were planned in 150 countries, including 800 in the U.S. Tens of thousands of people participated in rallies in Berlin, London and New York.
Bay City News Service contributed to this report.