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A global student protest effort took a unique form at Newberg High School on Friday

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - After Newberg High School students finished planting trees as part of the Climate Strike on Friday, they took to the fields and woods around the school to build paths and rid the area of invasive species like English ivy.

A protest drew dozens to a field near Newberg High School on Friday. In lieu of picket signs and megaphones, Newberg students and concerned community members carried shovels, rakes, piloted wheelbarrows and hefted potted plants.

The local protest – which took the form of planting native species and weeding in a riparian zone near the softball field – was part of a weeklong global climate strike organized by students from a variety of countries. While students from other schools around the world walked out of school on Friday and have done so throughout this week, a group of Newberg kids, teens and adults collaborated on an effort to restore the environment locally.

"We decided to do something productive rather than being obstructive to education," NHS graduate Quentin Comus, an organizer of the event, said in anticipation of the protest. "We are going to plant trees instead and we have about students and community members planning to go out there."

Comus and company planted Oregon White Oak trees in a clearing behind the softball field, removed invasive species like English ivy and passed out doughnuts to as many participants as possible. It was as peaceful as protests come in the Northwest and the issue of climate change is one that many in Comus's generation are passionate about.GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Newberg High School junior Evan Hurt constructs a path on Friday near the softball complex during the Climate Strike.

"We are going to try and make an oak savannah habitat, which is what the valley used to be full of," Comus said. "Native Americans used to burn it every year and it was a tradition. We are trying to recreate that habitat and make it educational in the future, while also mitigating climate change."

Biology teacher Peter Siderius, many decades Comus's senior, is also dedicated to conservation and its role in combatting climate change. Comus noted that Siderius's classes explore the topic from a solutions standpoint rather than a debate over the truth behind climate change and global warming.

A 2010 study by the National Academy of Sciences found that 97 percent of scientific experts believe in manmade climate change. According to NASA, the Earth is set to warm between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius in the next century – largely as a result of humanity's carbon footprint.

"There's so many misconceptions and non-believers," Comus said. "There is so much undeniable evidence and politicians aren't willing to change. The younger generation coming up is apt to change and it's so clear from our standpoint what we have to do."

Planting trees is one of many ways to counteract the effects of global warming, Comus said. That is why he and his classmates decided to make planting their form of protest on Friday.

The trees come from the school's greenhouse and were originally provided free of charge by the Northwest Oregon Riparian Partnership. The group has previously provided native species for Siderius, Comus and the student-led Chehalem Valley Watershed Project to plant, and that relationship is one that has allowed students to lead countless conservation efforts locally.

It isn't just high school students making a difference, either. Representatives from the Newberg Sustainability Group were on hand as well, helping with the planting.

Comus expressed his pride in the passion exhibited by the next generation of students, who will take up the mantle of CVWP when he heads off to college in a few weeks.

"Our climate change message in educating people is not about doom and gloom, but rather understanding what it is and how we can adapt," Comus said. "We can proactively decrease the effects of climate change and I think students in our school are passionate about finding positive ways to contribute to mitigating the issue."

School briefs

Veritas senior named merit scholar

Aislinn Kencke, a senior at Veritas School in Newberg, has been named a National Merit Commended Scholar for the Class of 2020. Kencke is the 25th Commended Scholar at the school since 2006; Veritas boasts 10 national merit finalists as well.

About 34,000 students nationwide are commended scholars as recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. While they don't move on to pursue national merit scholarship awards, the honor places them in the top 50,000 among the 1.5 million students who enter the competition.

"Those being named Commended Students have demonstrated outstanding potential for academic success," a spokesperson for NMSC said in a release. "These students represent a valuable national resource; recognizing their accomplishments, as well as the key role their schools play in their academic development, is vital to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation. We hope that this recognition will help broaden their educational opportunities and encourage them as they continue their pursuit of academic success."

Day care offered by CPRD

The Chehalem Park & Recreation District is offering two levels of daycare to area parents this fall – one for kids age preschool to kindergarten and the other for kids age kindergarten to fifth grade.

The C.A.R.E. program for kindergartners through fifth grade ages is held at the six elementary schools in Newberg and Dundee and includes supervised games, crafts, enrichment activities, free time, homework time and a snack. It is offered Monday through Friday from 6:20 a.m. until school begins and from school dismissal until 6 p.m. with snacks provided during the after school time slot.

Registration fees amount to $35 and prices for care vary. Drop-in costs $24 on a school day and $45 on a non-school day. Part- and full-time plans range in cost from $147 to $317 per month, depending on how much time the child will need to be looked after.

For more information or to register, visit www.cprdnewberg.org, call 503-537-2909 or go in-person to the Chehalem Aquatic & Fitness Center. Information on preschool programs can also be found at the CPRD website.


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