Portland students to march, sing about climate change

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PORTLAND — Nearly 400 middle school students will march to City Hall this Friday to draw attention to global warming.

The students, their teachers, parents and others at King Middle School will march from the 92 Deering Ave. school to City Hall on Congress Street, where the kids will then perform an original song about climate change.

Gus Goodwin, an eighth-grade technology education teacher, said he learned about a similar march organized by the environmental nonprofit organization 350.org that had been scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 28.

Goodwin said he had been meeting with students to see if they wanted to attend, because climate change is related to a subject in one class in the expeditionary learning school, called ReThink, ReCharge, ReAct.

When the event was canceled, Goodwin said the students wanted to put on their own march. He said the idea was well-received by teachers and students.

The march is being organized by a class of eighth-grade students. One of them, Siri Pierce, said the goal is to try to make Portland “100-percent renewable,” or as close as possible in the future.

“We sort of feel like the adults of the world have left us this huge problem,” Pierce said. “(W) e don’t have time to solve it later, we have to take action now.”

The march, which will have a police escort, is occurring while the United Nations Conference on Climate Change is underway from Nov. 30 through Dec. 11 in Paris. Pierce said the march is also a way to “stand with everyone in Paris” following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks.

“We want to march with them and for them,” she said.

Goodwin said the procession will leave King around 9 a.m., and then move through Deering Oaks Park. It will cross Park Street and go up Mellen Street, veer left onto Congress Street, and then straight to City Hall. In addition to the police escort, Goodwin said busy intersections will be closed when the students cross the street. Traffic will continue to flow, but Goodwin said there will be partial street closures along the way.

In addition to the student-written song, eighth-grader Jean Wriggins said students have written poems to recite after they arrive at City Hall around 10 a.m. Eighth-grader Lam Zimet said students will be carrying posters they made, and some may wear costumes related to climate change.

Goodwin said they have invited outgoing Mayor Michael Brennan to speak, and interim Superintendent of Schools Jeanne Crocker is expected to attend.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.