Writing for Social Action class raises climate change awareness

Ismah Ahmed'18 & Natasha Burgo'18
Hilltop Reporters

-Photo by: Natasha Burgo
English teacher, Mr. Kurt Ostrow, speaks to the elected officials.
Fall River- B.M.C. Durfee High School is yet again speaking out on what matters; this time about our environment. On March 16, 2018, students, teachers, and local state politicians came together to discuss the revolving problem that is climate change.

The event was held at the Tradewinds Restaurant where Mr. Kurt Ostrow's English class, Writing for Social Action, has been studying the cause and effects of the climate crisis.

Students wrote letters and sent them to the elected officials that represent the city of Fall River. In these letters, students asked for signatures on the following clean campaign finance pledge: "I pledge to not take contributions from the oil, gas, and coal industry and instead prioritize the health of our families, climate, and democracy over fossil fuel industry profits."

- Photo by: Natasha Burgo
Senator Michael Rodrigues speaks about
the importance of clean energy sources.
The elected officials that attended the event included Senator Michael Rodrigues,
Representative Carole Fiola, Representative Alan Silvia and Representative Paul Schmid. The students who spoke on behalf of their class were Aaron Reyes, Sol Perez, Kiara Raposa, Jesnely Perez, and Florentino Correa-Garcia.

Mr. Ostrow first introduced the class project by saying "my students and I deeply studied the root causes and short and long-term effects of the climate crisis. We wrote letters to the elected officials that represent Fall River and asked that they sign a clean campaign finance pledge." He then introduced Aaron Reyes who acknowledged that "climate change is a scary topic." Reyes connected environmental problems to the children's book The Lorax by Dr. Suess where "In the story, the Lorax is the one who speaks for the trees. Unfortunately, there is no Lorax. We, everyone here today, have to be our own Lorax," said Reyes.

Senator Michael Rodrigues expressed his agreement on the topic by stating "climate change is so important."  He also commented on what the state is doing for climate change right now, "First of all we're going to provide electricity to keep our light going and moving from a clean source...It's going to provide an incredible economic development." He later explained that the new "wind turbines" will provide "jobs" and "opportunities." He expressed his appreciation towards the students by saying "Thank You for your advocacy. It's very important that you make your voices heard."
-Photo by: Natasha Burgo
Representative Fiola shares a hug with student Sol Perez 
after her speech.

Next, Durfee student, Sol Perez, shared her story of how Hurricane Maria impacted her life and family. "The effects of Hurricane Maria left my home island of Puerto Rico shredded to pieces and my family and friends lost their homes. It was a nightmare, even for those who had to sit at home and watch this happen from all around the world."

"We as global citizens need to do more to stop this environmental apocalypse caused by the burning of fossil fuels," said Perez before introducing Representative Fiola.

"Examples like Sol, in terms of her home island, bring it home, bring it home for all of us," said Fiola. She gave thanks to the students who showed their advocacy on such an important topic. "You are all off to an incredible start to your journey." She continued to share how "proud" she is that they are "forcing change in the world."

Speaking in terms of climate change, "We have raised the cap on solar, you'll see more of that in providing benefits to corporations and individuals having solar. We have contracted for 1600 megawatts of wind power for the first time ever here," said Fiola.

                                                                                          -Photo by: Natasha Burgo
Students listen attentively to their fellow 
classmates speak about climate change.
Student Kiara Raposa understands that, "We are the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it." She went on to highlight
the dangerous impacts of climate, "If we don't act, we will suffer deadly heat waves."

-Photo by: Natasha Burgo
Representative Paul Schmid thanks teachers 
for giving students this opportunity.
"The fossil fuel industry threatens all of us," said student Jesnely Perez. "We asked our state representatives to stand with us to protect the environment. We need great leaders like you to help us save our environment by not taking money from the oil, gas, and coal industry."

Representative Paul Schmid gave thanks to the teachers and students who "understand the value of education." He continued the conversation of offshore winds and the project "bringing job opportunities."

"In addition to offshore wind, we've been working on another source of renewable energy and that is hydro power." He described the benefits of hydro power, a renewable energy source, as a "wonderful attribute" during our summer and winter seasons.
-Photo by: Ismah Ahmed
Members of the Durfee Culinary Arts program get 
lunch prepared for the event.

Senior Florentino Correa-Garcia closed the speaking portion of the program. "The road ahead will be filled with a large amount of opposition. There will be those in power who don't believe in climate change, and there will be those who go to great lengths to slow down the progress of combating climate change," said Correa-Garcia.

The event concluded with lunch for the students of Mr. Ostrow's Writing for Social Action class.


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