Orono High School’s Environmental Club raises environmental awareness with climate strike

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 6:27 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ORONO, Maine (WABI) - Students in Orono are speaking up and walking out to help raise awareness in their local community about the effects of climate change.

Orono High School’s Environmental Club hosted their second climate strike Thursday.

Students, community activists, and Orono town council members shared poetry, updates on on-campus environmental initiatives, and advice as to how students can help mitigate the effects of climate change.

“The first part is to keep in mind the big picture,” advises Sonja Birthisel, Environmental Subcommittee Chair, Orono Town Council. “Our way of life in this country is inherently somewhat unsustainable and so we need to transition to new ways of being, we need to use creativity and ingenuity to look for opportunities to be reducing our impact on the planet. And with the immensity of that challenge, my second piece of unsolicited advice is to not try to solve all of it by yourself.”

Junior Maureen Tyne and freshman Akouvi Komedja are co-presidents of the Environmental Club, which has garnered about 40 members of their peers.

“Which is a lot, it’s like over 10% of the student population,” says Komedja. “We kind of just talk about things that are going on related to climate change and how those may affect us as individuals or as our small community.”

The OHS Environmental Club isn’t just talk -- they are about tangible action. Some speakers highlighted the green changes made at the school, including the success of their composting initiative to diminish food waste as well as the switch from disposable batteries to reusable.

“We’ve diverted about 20,000 pounds of food for the district,” remarks OHS Teacher and Environmental Club Adviser Erika Dixon.

While some may question the legitimacy or effectiveness of a strike during the school day, organizers think it demonstrates the issue at hand perfectly.

“So, our idea with the strike is it’s kind of a little disruptive, and it represents what climate change is really doing to our lives, it’s disrupting them,” Komedja explains.

The climate strike is just one event designed by the Environmental Club. Friday, the club has organized the “Big Turn Off” event to encourage greener ways of getting to school.

“So whether that be carpooling, walking, biking, taking public transportation, stuff like that, and to persuade people to do this, and we reach out to local businesses and ask them to donate,” explains Tyne.

If the dedication, passion, and organization of the OHS Environmental Club says anything, it’s that the kids are alright.