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Organizers say students will leave school for demonstration downtown, inviting adults to join in and skip work

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Students cross a bridge into downtown Portland during a 2019 youth climate strike, inspired by #FridaysForFuture, a movement sparked by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. It's happening again.

On Friday, Sept. 20, teens across the Portland region say they plan to skip class and instead head downtown for the latest in a series of climate strikes.

The strike follows similar action taken by teens in March, when a youth climate strike saw teens leave school and gather in downtown Portland with megaphones and posters, marching to demand climate justice.

In keeping with youth Swedish youth activist Greta Thunberg's Fridays for Future strikes to demand governmental action to curb climate change, students say the Sept. 20 rally isn't a youth climate strike, and instead invites a broader audience to take part this time.

"Last year was a youth climate strike, specifically geared toward beginning outreach," Wilson High School junior Jaden Winn said Wednesday. "We want to have adults there (this time) walking out of their jobs. ...We want this to be the largest climate strike in history. Last climate strike, we really tried as much as possible to shut down the system."

This time around, the young people say they're partnering with 350PDX, a Portland-based climate justice organization that has also held rallies and demonstrations to denounce the fossil fuel industry.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Teens march and protest in downtown Portland in March 2019 for a youth climate strike. Another strike, inspired by the Fridays for Future movement, is planned for September 20.To drive the message home, students sent a letter to the superintendent of Portland Public Schools announcing plans for the strike, and included a list of demands from school administrators to accommodate students' day of action.

"We will be marching again on September 20th to stand up for the future that we deserve," the letter states. "It is clear that youth have a unique perspective on the issue of climate justice, which is why it is so important for us to be taking strong action."

Among the demands made to PPS:

• Allow student outreach about the climate strike in schools;

• Ensure that students who choose to participate aren't penalized for missing school;

• Provide classroom lessons on the climate crisis and strike for all students on the days leading up to the Sept. 20 strike and the day of, as well as reaching out to local transit agency TriMet to coordinate extra buses on routes leading to Portland City Hall.

Portland Public Schools students also approached the school board on Aug. 27 after sending the letter.

"We're really involving the adults and our school district, demanding their support," Winn noted.

They asked for a district response by Sept. 5, but Winn said PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero asked for an extension, given the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Still, Winn and his peers are optimistic about their plans.

As planned, the teens will leave school to gather at Portland City Hall around 10:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 20 for a rally in Terry Schrunk Plaza. From there, they'll cross the Hawthorne Bridge and walk toward OMSI at the Eastbank Esplanade, where a "family friendly" climate mobilization festival is planned with speakers, workshops and demonstrations.

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