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#ClimateStrike: MAT alumnae behind climate change initiatives

September 23, 2019

  • Members of Sunrise Movement, PDX photo by Maddie Maschger

Suzanna Kassouf, Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) alumnae and a US History and ethnic studies teacher at Lincoln High School asked her students if they ever worried about climate change. Every student raised their hand. 

Kassouf shares her students’ concerns as she advocates for learning both inside and outside the classroom. “Why should these students be in class?” Kassouf said. “Why should [students] be learning about a future they’re not going to have, unless we take immediate action?” 

After an intergovernmental report estimated the world had about 12 years to curb the effects of climate change before they became permanent, Kassouf decided that it was time to take action and join forces with young climate activists to cofound a local chapter of the Sunrise Movement–an American youth-led movement to address climate change. According to Portland Mercury, the chapter has over 400 members and nearly 50 core organizers, ranging from middle-school-age to 35 years old. Kassouf serves as the co-coordinator of its “actions and strategies” team. 

This past Friday, September 20, 2019, Sunrise Movement PDX and Lincoln High students joined the climate strike from Portland’s City Hall through downtown to demand action on climate change in support of the Sept. 20 Global Climate Strike led by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Great Thunberg, affirmed Portland Mercury.

According to PPS (Portland Public Schools) many Lincoln High students, as well as other PPS students who took part in the strike, obtained an excused absence, as long as they notified their teacher before leaving school.

Sunrise Movement PDX and other organizing groups such as Youth Igniting Change, 350PDX, and the Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialist of America organized Climate Strike Portland, where a Climate Strike Festival near OMSI took place. The festival was open to all, with art builds, workshops, music, speakers, kids area, food trucks, and knowledge to end the climate crisis. 

The full article is available here.

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