April 15, 2020
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We're Not the Class of 2019. We're the Class of 0000.

Deliver a plan for zero emissions—or get zero of our votes.

by Lia Harel

I am a second semester high school senior. For many students in my position, this is the best part of the year: the notorious "senior-slide" kicks in, chatter about life after high school fills the hallways, and we countdown the days until we get to toss our caps in the air. It’s graduation season.

For decades, each class before mine has shared a similar experience at their graduation ceremony—an experience of time hopping, per say. Students celebrate their past academic accomplishments and look forward in anticipation of future endeavors.

However, my graduating class will not share this experience.

How can we look forward to the next chapter of our lives when the the flames of wildfires are already burning the pages of our stories? How can we look forward to building a home with a family when the floods, hurricanes, and rising sea levels are already tearing down our walls? How can we look forward to making the American Dream our reality when economic instabilityfood insecurities, and mentaland physical illnesses are already plaguing us like nightmares? How can we look forward to our future at all when climate change already threatens to destroy anything that might remain of it?

This is not an exaggeration, and this is certainly not a hoax. This is the reality that my generation faces. But we, the Class of 2019, are determined to reverse this reality.

So this graduation season, we are speaking out about the present. We are emphasizing what needs to happen now. We need zero emission, zero excuses, and zero delays—because we have zero time to waste when it comes to solving the climate crisis. Across the nation in gymnasiums, football fields, and auditoriums, commencement speakers are dedicating a minute of their speeches to talk about the need for immediate, bold climate action. Most significantly, we are giving all 2020 political candidates of both parties a choice: have a plan to get to zero emissions—or get zero of our votes.

Our diplomas may say we are the Class of 2019, but marked in history, we are the Class of 0000. We have the power to create a future to look forward to.

Yes, I am a second semester high school senior. I lack the motivation to finish my AP Statistics homework. Yet, I have the passion to take part in the commencement of a new era of climate leadership. This is the era in which science is fact, calls for action result in change, and boldness will save us. We, the Class of 0000, are the first class of this era.

Please join us.

About the 'Class of 0000' campaign:

Class of 0000 is a student-led campaign to take over graduation for climate action. Together, valedictorians and salutatorians across the country will deliver the same message to our leaders in their commencement speeches: deliver a plan for zero emissions — or get zero of our votes. Join our movement at the website: Classof0000.com.

Originally appeared on Commondreams.org | Image: 'Class of 0000' campaign