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Students from Columbia High School are leading another climate strike on Friday and are inviting community members to join them outside Maplewood Town Hall for a rally at 10:45 a.m. on Friday.

The group is then planning to take a train to Newark to join a statewide climate march and rally being organized by the New Jersey Climate Strike Coalition and other climate-focused groups. The events are timed to coincide with a United Nations climate conference in Madrid and similar actions by young people around the world.

“The purpose of these climate strikes is to do something out of the ordinary, to upset daily routine, and to make it clear that the situation our world is in should not be normal,” said Jordan Muhammad, a CHS student and leader of the school’s Students for Justice group. That 40-person group and the school’s 35-person Environmental Club are leading Friday’s actions.

Students are also hosting a teach-in at the Woodland at 6 p.m. following the day’s events. The family friendly event will include crafts, conversations, presentations and an interactive musical performance, according to a press release.

“We want to use our privilege in Maplewood-South Orange to call attention to this crisis and stand in solidarity with our neighbors,” said Lily Forman, another leader of Students for Justice.

The students said 600 people rallied during the first climate strike in September, and that they are hoping to have a similar turnout. But they acknowledged that it may be difficult for students to take another day off, and that some may feel that they have already done their part by participating the first time around.

“We hope that we can emphasize the opposite: the problem continues to be unsolved, so we must continue to fight and make our voices heard,” said Emmy Cramer, a leader of the Environmental Club.

In addition to a broad push for clean air, water and energy, as well as climate justice, the coalition is asking Gov. Phil Murphy to prevent the development of a proposed power plant for NJ Transit and any other fossil fuel projects. By joining the rally in Newark, the students said they hope they can amplify their local efforts and have a bigger impact.

“There is strength in numbers, and these rallies and strikes show politicians that their constituents are demanding action from them,” Muhammad said.

Aside from the rallies, the groups have also held trash pickup events, screened documentaries about the environment and participated in a town hall on the Green New Deal. They are working on holding a trash audit at Columbia High School, with the goal of creating a plastic-free cafeteria and reducing overall waste. They are also planning a flea market to encourage sustainable shopping and raise money for a climate justice group.

This story was produced in collaboration with the New Jersey Sustainability Reporting Hub project. It was originally reported by Ambreen Ali for VillageGreenNJ.com, and may be re-distributed through the Creative Commons License, with attribution.

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