Evan Thompson / The Record — Kari Hustad, center, goes over the lyrics with other members of the Climate Arts Project at a rehearsal on Monday afternoon. From left to right: Chloe Hood, Katyrose Jordan, Hustad and Marla Kelly.

Students organize their own Earth Day activities at SWHS

Students in South Whidbey High School’s Climate Arts Project have worn many hats over the past several months as they prepared for today’s Earth Day assembly and activities: performing artists, activists, and environmental stewards.

They’re also running almost the entire show.

Unlike previous years where members of the community have helped organize and plan the school’s annual assembly and activities in recognition of Earth Day on April 22, students from two extracurricular clubs, Green Team and Drama Club, joined forces to put on the event themselves. They’ve organized a performance that will include spoken word poetry, skits, original songs and interpretive dancing during the 50-minute assembly, followed by a half-day of activities. While community members and mentors such as Ann Linnea, Julie Glover and Deanna Duncan of the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts have lent a hand in planning and guidance, the students handled the main responsibilities. The organizers — Kari Hustad, Chloe Hood, Amelia Hensler, Kyle Kaltenbach and Skye Telleen — produced a 50-minute show containing nearly 100 percent original content, and organized almost three hours worth of activities that include a volunteer fair, a panel discussion, tips on how to write to elected officials, art activism and the first opportunity for students to work on a garden being installed at the high school campus.

While the assembly and activities are just for the students, the community is invited to the Climate Arts Project’s performance tonight from 6-8 p.m. at the Bayview Cash Store. They will also perform at Langley Middle School and South Whidbey Elementary School this week.

The Climate Arts Project revolves around the students’ interpretation of climate change, how it impacts them and how they can make a difference in the world they will inherit.

Hustad, a senior, said the drawback in previous Earth Day assemblies has been keynote speakers who talked about far-removed issues that students had little to do with. The hope is that the performances will portray an active effort to discuss climate change through the arts, while also being relevant and appealing to all types of students, Hustad said.

“Our brand of activism is more about educating the student body and inspiring the student body,” Hustad said. “It’s really hard to just listen to facts coming at you.”

Duncan, education director at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, is among the list of mentors who have helped students throughout the planning phase with guidance and advice. Others include Tess Cooper, Kathryn O’Brien, Caitlin Jones, Cary Peterson, Christyn Johnson and Susie Richards.

Duncan said she is most impressed by the fact that despite preparing for graduation, juggling sports and all of the other responsibilities that come with being a student, they’ve undertaken a mission to spread the word about their message.

“They wanted to tell their peers and their community something they were passionate about,” Duncan said.

Glover, another mentor who is a youth development professional, said the students’ emphasis is about acting upon things they are passionate about, and not conceptualizing their ideas.

“Because the youth are the ones who are inhabiting the earth,” Glover said.

For senior Jay Bierschenk and sophomore Marla Kelly, it’s about reinforcing the idea that climate change is real and that it shouldn’t be ignored.

“There are some people in this world that definitely do not believe in it and are just dismissing it,” said Kelly, who wrote two of the three skits to be performed. “I’m just trying to make sure that message gets out there that we need to do something about this and if we don’t, we’re not going to get anywhere with any other problems unless we solve this one first.”

Bierschenk said the event is also about empowering students to advocate for change. Bierschenk believes students sometimes don’t take initiative and use the excuse of feeling like a kid to float through life.

“I’m passionate about it because if I don’t do something about it, my kids are going to have to,” Bierschenk said.

More in Life

Annual street dance, live bands set for Saturday

Langley’s new annual dancing-in-the-street summertime tradition is back for the third year,… Continue reading

New public art debuts in Langley

Steel and glass shape pieces chosen by arts commission

Denis Zimmermann and his wife, Cheryl, run Langley’s new ramen restaurant, Ultra House, which opened in May 2018. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times.
Langley restaurant owner is recreating his childhood with new ramen house

Denis Zimmer-mann said he’s not re-inventing the wheel with his ramen restaurant… Continue reading

Shakespeare Festival plays emotional range

Female directors, perspective at the forefront

A 1941 Graham Hollywood, owned by Roy Deaver of Clinton, was chosen as Best of Show in the Cool Bayview Nights car show Saturday.
Rain doesn’t dampen the fun at Cool Bayview Nights car show

Attendees selected the mildly modified and rebuilt 1941 Graham Hollywood, owned by… Continue reading

Congolese Festival is a chance to celebrate, educate

Last event before Northwest Cultural Center relocates

Mucking about for clams

‘Digging for Dinner’ a popular Sound Water activity

Scorch is a play about gender identification showing at Outcast’s black box theater on the Island County fairgrounds June 13-17. It’s a one-person play, performed by Carmen Berkeley. Director and co-producer Ty Molbak went to middle school in Langley was was active in Whidbey Children’s Theater. Both will be seniors at Rutgers University in the fall. One scene in the play “Scorch” portrays the main character looking into mirrors and wondering what others see.
‘Scorch’ looks at first love and ‘gender fraud’

Irish play revolves around one character’s confusion

Whidbey Island Garden Tour highlights five homes

Tickets still available for Saturday event

Jordan Shelley, 18, stands outside his home in Greenbank. He recently received the Sydney S. McIntyre Jr Scholarship from Skagit Valley College to go toward his tuition at the University of Washington. Shelley will pursue his childhood dream of becoming a doctor. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group
SVC grad earns full 2-year scholarship to UW

A lot has changed since Jordan Shelley was 7 years old and… Continue reading

Expanding knowledge

Whidbey Institute adds more lodging, plans open house

Shhh…it’s a surprise party for old-timer Bill Lanning

Friends, customers invited to celebrate former owner of Bill’s Feed Tack