PROTEST: Pathfinder K-8 students walk out to oppose Willow oil-drilling project

If you traveled through the Delridge/Oregon intersection in the past hour, you would have seen that protest on the foot/bike overpass. The protesters are middle-schoolers from Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point. One organizer emailed us to explain:

We are protesting against The Willow Project. The Willow Project is a massive oil-drilling project that will cause 239 million metric tons of carbon emissions to be added to our Earth’s atmosphere in the next 30 years. It is endangering our future and we are protesting to stop it. Please make it known to the public that this is not okay and we need to save our future.

Willow is a ConocoPhillips oil-drilling plan on Alaska’s North Slope that got the federal go-ahead a week ago. As for logistics of the protest, Pathfinder principal Britney Holmes sent families a note that read in part:

This is not a school or district-sponsored event. Students have a First Amendment right to assemble and express their rights. However, district policy does not allow for an excused absence for participation in a walkout unless prior approval from a student’s family is received.

Holmes’ note also said school administrators had talked with student organizers and that they would follow along to ensure safety.

39 Replies to "PROTEST: Pathfinder K-8 students walk out to oppose Willow oil-drilling project"

  • Dip Dopson March 20, 2023 (12:35 pm)

    Thanks, Pathfinder students! Maybe we’ll be ok after all.

  • Barb Z March 20, 2023 (1:07 pm)

    It appears our young people are the only intelligent ones these days. Thanks for showing us the way and fighting for your rights!

  • cxq5 March 20, 2023 (1:39 pm)

    Thank you for doing this. I hope more students at other schools will follow suit. Your parents should be proud of you!

  • onion March 20, 2023 (2:17 pm)

    I appreciate the gesture, although there isn’t a car in sight and it’s unclear what action anybody who  saw the protest would be able to take.  It would be age-appropriate to begin discussing issues such as oil drilling with seventh or eighth graders, but I wonder whose idea it was to protest. And how much time was taken away from classrooms for this demonstration?

    • Derek March 20, 2023 (2:26 pm)

      Oh come on… this IS important class time. Demonstrations are part of education. 

    • Pathfinder 7th grader March 20, 2023 (2:56 pm)

      Pathfinder 7th grader speaking-I organized this protest with my friends because we want a future for us and our children. Our goal from this was to attract attention and spread the word about this life changing subject, and hopefully other people will follow and try to make a difference. I want a future.

      • Pete March 20, 2023 (4:07 pm)

        Good for you! My little guy is a pathfinder crow. I’m so glad he has you as a schoolmate. 

      • Jay March 20, 2023 (4:07 pm)

        Beautifully stated! I’m so impressed and proud of you all!

      • Blbl March 20, 2023 (4:50 pm)

        Well done, Pathfinder 7th grader!  👏👏👏 Thank you, and keep up the good trouble!

    • PF Dad March 20, 2023 (3:59 pm)

      @onion including however many cars came along, the impressions they are generating, including in this blog, are growing by the minute. Protests don’t happen in the vacuum of one small neighborhood in Seattle. These kids are savvy enough to understand that and the word is getting out across multiple platforms. They’ve been discussing this topic for a while now in class. It is on their minds. Experiential learning doesn’t happen in the classroom, it is fueled by inspirational teachers that take the learning into real spaces and places.  While this was a student-driven protest the school is standing in solidarity with the kids. And, we are so happy that they are out expressing their views. This is the kind of learning that needs to be happening right now. 

    • pathfinder 6th grader March 20, 2023 (4:12 pm)

      we did learn from this experience i don’t see why writing an essay is more important than learning life lessons about standing up for our futures

    • Pathfinder 6th grader March 20, 2023 (5:59 pm)

      I appreciate you commenting, but what we are doing is not trying to effect this issue immediately. We are spreading awareness and hoping People with also spread the word. We are trying to get attention on a subject that could affect everyone’s future. Maybe next time, think about that you are leaving hate on middle schoolers that are trying to spread awareness about the damage to OUR planet. Thank you.

    • Pathfinder 6th grader March 20, 2023 (6:22 pm)

      I respect your opinion, but I think that you should know that are goal in this protest was not to effect this issue right away. Our goal was to spread awareness and teach people about the effects that the willow project will cause our earth. People need to know what is happening and what it can cause. There was in fact many cars and even if there was not we still got the word out. This protest did come along with much learning and experience. Think about it, you are leaving hate on middle schoolers trying to spread awareness about damage to OUR earth. 

  • anonyme March 20, 2023 (2:20 pm)

    Everyone should be listening to these kids.  It’s their future we’re destroying.

  • Grimjaw March 20, 2023 (2:41 pm)

    Oil powers American society…I hope they are learning that in school!

    • WestSeattleBadTakes March 20, 2023 (2:57 pm)

      Yes, I am sure they are learning the descriptive truth that American society is largely oil based. And let’s hope they are also learning that prescriptively, we should be transitioning away from oil.

    • Derek March 20, 2023 (3:21 pm)

      Doesn’t have to…

    • pathfinder student March 20, 2023 (3:40 pm)

      we appreciate your opinion, but i hope you aren’t to tone deaf to see how problematic that industry is. and as much as we are aware of the meaning that industry has on our country, working towards limiting that is what we are learning in school. American society should be powered by the people. thank you.

      • Canton March 21, 2023 (7:18 am)

        One thing to consider; look around your home. How many things in your home are made of plastic? Plastic is made with petroleum. So now, mentally eliminate all those items. What is left?

        • Jay March 21, 2023 (6:06 pm)

          Instead of talking down to kids, why not try to understand new information that has come out since you were a kid yourself? A lot of plastic junk and packaging doesn’t need to be made, and a lot has bioplastic alternative. Cellophane for packaging is made from plant cells, polylactic acid is made from corn starch and creates a more rigid plastic. There are thousands if not millions of alternatives to oil. You aren’t winning over kids with ignorance because they grew up with the internet and will fact check everything you say. It just makes you look foolish.

        • Sarah Shapiro March 21, 2023 (6:36 pm)

          We can want a better, safer, and more just future while living in the present. These kids don’t owe us a comprehensive plan to replace plastic in manufacturing before they can legitimately voice concerns about the oil industry. It’s a great question—how does a climate-conscious society approach the ubiquity of plastics in current daily life?—but it’s a question, not a counterpoint to climate activism. 

  • WestSeattleBadTakes March 20, 2023 (3:45 pm)

    Here is the IPCC Synthesis Report released today.

  • onion March 20, 2023 (3:47 pm)

    I agree with Derek,  Anonyme, and Grimjaw. You each raise important points. So I hope their lessons get into the different sides in the issue in a thoughtful rather than kneejerk way. We need young people who can deal with politically and environmentally complex subjects and truly consider all sides.

  • AlaskaPacificUniversityalumn March 20, 2023 (4:33 pm)

    There was so much learning today. Civic engagement,  group organizing,  navigational skills, care for others, environmental justice and sustainable resources. 

  • 937 March 20, 2023 (5:56 pm)

    Pathfinder 7th grader – Even though drilling was “allowed” – it doesn’t mean its going to happen. There is increredible amounts of infrastructure needing built. Roads, terminals, multiple pumping stations etc. Not to mention the drilling rigs themselves.You, your children and probably THEIR children will likely never see a drop from this reserve. Due to lawsuits “good trouble” as one person said, the next (or next next) administration etc…

  • LC March 20, 2023 (6:58 pm)

    Pathfinder students Rock! Way to go middle schoolers!! 

  • pathfinder 6th March 20, 2023 (8:03 pm)

    also we made it back to school and finished our work and we had lunch and we did are best

  • Anonymous parent March 20, 2023 (8:11 pm)

    I’d like to start by saying that I support protest and think that what the kids did today was honorable. However, as a parent of an 11 year old 6 grader, I did not know about the protest until I received the email from Dr. Holmes after it had started. Luckily I was able to contact my 6th grader to find out if they planned to participate but I know other parents who weren’t able to. The most unsettling thing was the email we received from Dr. Holmes stating that “the walkout plan has shifted multiple times, students are currently planning to walk to the junction. Many students have left the walkout and returned to school, some students have reportedly taken the bus downtown and others have reportedly went home.” Followed by the last email stating that several groups of students have dispersed in different directions and that safety and security are no longer with the students.I understand the right to allow and support student protest but we are talking about 11-13 year olds that were just let out of school grounds without parent knowledge or permission. Am I the only one thinking that’s maybe not the best idea? 

    • Bill March 21, 2023 (5:26 am)

      Thank you for the return to some reality!

    • WestSeattleBadTakes March 21, 2023 (11:06 am)

      For real, we’re supposed to control every single aspect of these children’s life. We own them!

    • Pathfinder 6th grade April 8, 2023 (7:40 pm)

      I would like to say that all of this was planned. The principals and parents all knew about this and what was happening. The principles were thoughtful enough to give updates to let you know what is happening and if your children are safe. We are all middle schoolers and are responsible enough to handle this. We were in a group and nobody was alone as well. One thing is that the principals are not able OR aloud to rebel in this protest with the children as it would lead to the, getting fired or in trouble. Research before commenting

  • Lisa March 20, 2023 (9:52 pm)

    I also wonder why Dr. Holmes said she left the kids to roam free and then waited to let us parents know!!  It is shameful and irresponsible.  Let them stay in and learn.  

    • Bill March 21, 2023 (5:27 am)

      Thanks to you also!

    • Pathfinder 6th grader March 21, 2023 (7:36 am)

      Pathfinder 6th grader- we were learning this whole experience. We are middle schoolers and most of us had the permission from our parents to walk in this protest. At this age we are used to walking places either alone or just with one other person. If the principals knew it was not responsible they wouldn’t have let us do it.

  • Scarlett March 21, 2023 (8:16 am)

    Time would be better spent teaching kids that oil companies are part of the cartel-like financial system we live in, abetted by a government which picks winners and losers.   It’ dumbfounding that some still cling to the fantasy that we live in a “free market” economic system. 

    • Pathfinder 6th grader March 21, 2023 (7:39 pm)

      If you were apart of this, which you are not. Before we had done and planned this protest we had researched about this stuff and this subject beforehand. Don’t assume.

  • anonyme March 21, 2023 (11:13 am)

    I agree with Scarlett.  The global oil barons have a stranglehold on the planet that is literally choking the life out of it.  The idea that we are still allowing new oil drilling to take place is appalling.  We’ve had decades to transition away from fossil fuels and it hasn’t happened; why not?  There are no good excuses.  Being 71 and all too aware of ageism in this society, I still have to say it’s time to kick out all the old white guys and put in some young people who understand the dire urgency of this situation. A situation, I hate to admit, I wasn’t even aware of until these kids put it on our radar.

  • Darryll March 23, 2023 (9:25 pm)

    Here’s a thought. Teach kids about science, government/policy, and law so they know how to make and pass policy that actually makes lasting change. Protests definitely feel good and tell authorities you’re not happy, but very little about what you really want,

    • Pathfinder 6th grader April 8, 2023 (7:36 pm)

      What we are doing is spreading the word, not trying to solve the issue quickly. We are aware that we physically can’t do anything but maybe someone who saw could.

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