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8th Graders Advocate at Illinois State Capitol

Written by Ivy and Maddy B.

On October 29, a group of 8th grade CMS students took a trip to Springfield along with the Faith in Place group to help support and rally for the passing of the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA). This act will “promote jobs and economic opportunity, put Illinois on a path to 100% renewable energy by 2050, reduce the equivalent of 1 million gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles from the road, and achieve a carbon-free power sector by 2030.”

We began our day at the capital by going with one of CEJA’s representatives to speak to State Representative Dan Caulkins about CEJA and why it is important to take immediate action to combat climate change. What began as a simple, polite discussion grew more intense very quickly as we saw our different views on the subject. While Caulkins doesn’t support the bill, our class brought a very action-oriented air to the conversation.

When we discussed how long we have before climate change becomes irreversible, Caulkins said if it was true that is 12 years was really all the time we had left, that we should “go ahead and party.” Several times, he told us to “google it” when he wanted to prove a point he’d made was legitimate.

After talking with Representative Caulkins, we wove our way up through the halls of our capital, and discussed what we’d say to Senator Chapin Rose. We began our discussion with him by introducing the four pillars of CEJA. The discussion with Senator Rose was brief, and on-the-spot, taking place in merely a remote hallway. We didn’t have much time to speak with him, but it was still a great experience, to get to speak with the people who represent us.

Next we gathered on the first floor holding signs in a rally. We listened to many speakers talk about the necessity of the bill that CEJA presents. They spoke about the catastrophic consequences that our climate is facing, drawing attention to the fact that temperatures are now the hottest on record, and how Illinois has declared an “agricultural disaster.” Preceding the rally, the students from CMS, along with another school group, went to the offices of Governor J.B. Pritzker, to give him letters we’d all written with our own reasons that this bill was important.

To quote one of the speakers, “With youth at the front lines we have opportunity.” With youth, and others who care about this issue in the lead, we can heal our suffering world.

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