Students get 'green' lesson from Frerichs

By: Paige Maul

By: Paige Maul

By: Paige Maul

By: Paige Maul

OAKWOOD – After viewing a documentary film about global warming, 88 students in Cammie Richter's eighth-grade social studies class at Oakwood Junior High School took their teacher's advice and wrote their local legislators – never thinking they might actually get a response.

Richter's class viewed former Vice President Al Gore's Academy Award-nominated documentary about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," during a geography unit that included climate change.

"Some of them were really getting upset about the fact that the polar bears were drowning and the borders of the United States might be shrunken, like in Florida and some other parts of the world, so we wrote letters to politicians," Richter said.

Richter said about 40 of her students wrote to state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Gifford, and others wrote to Democratic U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, state Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, and Congressman Tim Johnson, R-Urbana.

Richter said some of her students were cynical about sending the letters. She said the students thought no politician would respond because they were just students at a small junior high school in rural Illinois.

Frerichs responded to the students' letters by coming to their school on Thursday and speaking to the seventh- and eighth-grade classes about global warming and what the students can do to prevent it. The students also received a response from Black.

"I wanted to come here today because I was really impressed you took time to write your state senator about an issue that is important to you and that is going to be important to you for many years to come," Frerichs said.

Frerichs told the students he too came from a small town, and when he was in junior high the environment was a big issue for him. He said rather than giving up, he turned to his high school's environmental club and helped start a school recycling program and ensured his school used more efficient lighting.

"It obviously didn't save the world, but I hope it helped out in some small way," Frerichs said.

Frerichs said he hopes the Oakwood students will make a few changes in their lives that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that they will be more involved in the political process when they get older.

"The students will be voters in a few years, and I think they will remember him,"Richter said.

Sections (1):Living
Categories (3):News, Education, Environment

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