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Around 200 Corvallis High School students walked out of class Friday to demand action on climate change, as part of an international climate strike by students.

For around 15 minutes the students and around a dozen community members stood on the sidewalk outside the school’s entrance, waving signs and chanting.

Lauren Reichman, a Corvallis High senior and co-president of the school’s Green Club, said students left their class before lunch around 15 minutes early and planned to return to class after lunch.

Reichman said the purpose of staging the protest in the form of a walkout instead of outside school hours was deliberate: “It makes a statement that we need to do something now. It’s more important than school. It’s more important than anything. It’s more important than one class.”

She added that the turnout was higher than organizers expected.

“I’m really happy right now," Reichman said. "I never expected this many people to show up.”

The goal of the strike, Reichman said, was to raise awareness about climate change and encourage people to take steps, even small steps, in their own lives to reduce their impact on the environment. She cited such examples as not eating meat or reducing meat consumption, or trying to avoid single-use products as steps that can have an impact.

“Little changes, really anything you can do to contribute to the effort, is valued and helpful,” Reichman said.

Reichman also said one of the messages of the event was that people should get involved with climate groups.

“Contribute what you can and don’t lose hope because together we can change.”

Julie Williams, a Corvallis High teacher and adviser for the Green Club, told protesters that the next climate strike planned by environmentalists is scheduled for Sept. 20, but that event is intended in part to inspire adults to join the students.

Williams said the turnout at the event was inspiring.

“It made me feel so hopeful for their future,” she said. “We really need the youth to motivate those of us that have the power to take action.”

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Anthony Rimel covers weekend events, education, courts and crime and can be reached at anthony.rimel@lee.net, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.

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