“Education is service and I believe we are put on this earth to make some contribution to try to leave it a little better place than we found it.”
– TASIS Founder M. Crist Fleming
On September 20, millions of students and workers in more than 100 nations walked out of their schools or workplaces and took to the streets to demand an end to the age of fossil fuels. While TASIS The American School in Switzerland understands the intent behind this global climate strike and sympathizes with those who chose to participate, the School opted to move forward with its own Day of Climate Action—an intentional and educational approach designed to help each student reflect upon how we can all be better stewards of the environment.
"During the week of September 20, 2019, millions around the world engaged in global climate strikes to promote immediate action towards reversing global warming,” said TASIS Headmaster Christopher Nikoloff. “Inspired by the vision of its faculty, TASIS chose to dedicate a day to classroom instruction in all subjects and all grade levels on environmental issues followed by specific actions, such as launching improvements to the School's recycling program, that can help move TASIS closer to carbon neutrality. These initiatives are in keeping with our founder M. Crist Fleming's dream of TASIS playing a role in making the world a better place."
On the morning of September 20, the High School held a special assembly that featured a video of the inspiring Greta Thunberg addressing the United Nations, introductory remarks from Mr. Nikoloff, an engaging keynote presentation by Dr. William Sawyer—a senior computational scientist at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre who has worked tirelessly to inform the public about the need for drastic action to address climate change while also exploring how to use information technology to promote a low-carbon society—remarks about the importance of recycling and conservation from TASIS seniors Daisy Bachofen and Ella Hauptman, and a preview of follow-up events provided by TASIS Green Team leaders Dr. Jill Sawyer-Price, Ms. Valerie Bijur Carlson, and Mr. Keith Izsa. The full assembly can be viewed above. (The RSI news program Il Quotidiano also stopped by to chronicle the action and planned to air its report at 19:05 that evening.)
Lessons in Elementary, Middle, and High School classes throughout the day were directly connected to climate change, including the following examples:
- Elementary School science students debated food chain situations, weather phenomena, and human impact.
- Elementary School art students made climate change signposts to plant around campus and drew “I love my planet” pictures.
- Elementary School math students examined mathematical data that supports the science behind climate change.
- Middle School English students collected dying plants and replanted them, brought in plants from home to care for, and created a garden theme in their classroom.
- Middle School art students created flowers made from plastic bottles.
- High School science students calculated their personal carbon footprints, examined how climate change affects transpiration in plants, and studied atmosphere modeling.
- High School theater students did a Broadway Green Alliance exploration and acted out environmentally-themed monologues and scenes.
- High School Spanish students prepared oral presentations about climate change.
- High School photography students created the exquisite poster atop this article.
The Day of Climate Action will be followed by a week of awareness and activism with several anchor events—including a sustainable foods-themed dinner, a community nature run, and the installation of new recycling bins around campus—designed to foster collaboration among teachers, administrators, and students.
Much of this work has been inspired by the heroic Thunberg, a 16-year-old activist from Sweden who has worked tirelessly to raise global awareness for the risks posed by climate changes, held politicians accountable for their lack of action to this point, and ignited the Fridays For Future movement. Below Thunberg explains why it is so important for adults and young people to unite in support of this urgent cause.
And why did TASIS feel compelled to join the cause? Several of the School’s key players in the Global Day of Action explain their motivations below.
Why is it important for TASIS to participate