After two years and six days of patience, hard work, and getting called “the kiddos,” we
had finally done it. The room was flooded with green (biodegradable!) balloons and a sea of
green shirts cheered, victorious at last. The Board of Education had just passed the first student-led policy in the history of the Long Beach Unified School District.
Board Policy 3510.1, Green Schools Operations — Energy and Sustainability Policy, was
passed on August 17, 2022. Being there that day and seeing those grinning faces, hearing those cheers, and feeling the floor beneath me shake as we all jumped up from our seats and hugged each other, all of it contributed to the best feeling I’ve ever experienced.
The most amazing thing to me that day was the fact that what began as a group of four
students at Polytechnic High School grew into a district-wide movement with hundreds of
students that succeeded in passing an influential board policy. We attended endless zoom
meetings, toiled over emails, collected thousands of petition signatures, spoke at board meetings over 70 times, and all that work culminated in a major change in our city.
The School Board meeting began with an opportunity for public comment. We had done
this numerous times before, but this time was different. For the first time, we were given the
yellow papers that meant our topic was “on the agenda” of the school board meeting! The
student speakers reflected on the two-year journey to the point we had arrived at and celebrated all the progress that we had made. We thanked the School Board and Facilities Team for working with us so closely and urged them to vote yes and finalize our win. Then came the time for the Board Members to vote. First we heard four “Ayes,” then no “Nays,” and finally a crowd of students shouting with joy.
As the core group of students filed into the front of the room to take a picture with the
School Board members who unanimously approved our policy, I felt a strong sense of unity. For once, rather than seeing political obstacles or opposing views clash, I saw everyone working together against the climate crisis. Political differences and minor disagreements were all put aside and finally we could all celebrate together. All of us: the students, School Board, and Facilities Team, were happy to see one step made towards worldwide change