Climate change protest in Ridgefield: More administrators than students

No climate change walkout occurred at Ridgefield High School as student protesters around the world rallied against political and economic leaders’ lack of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow the warming of the planet.

“I think kids who were interested probably went to New York City,” RHS Principal Stacey Gross said.

“This is pretty quiet,” said Rob Miller, the school’s technology director, who was part of a team — including virtually every central office administrator in the system — on hand at the high school Friday morning, Sept. 20, to help deal with any walkout in the event one took place.

”I think there were more administrators here” than student protesters, Miller said.

That seemed to be true, since the student protester count at the school looked to be zero late on a sunny Friday morning.

“They picked a nice day to stay inside,” said Joe Morits, the school system’s head of buildings and grounds, who was also there.

Interim Superintendent JeanAnn Paddyfote was at the high school, as well, but passed the official comment baton to Dr. Gross, the principal.

“We just wanted to make sure everyone was safe,” Dr. Gross said, explaining the flotilla of administrators at the school.

Dr. Gross declined to give a reporter permission to interview students, saying it was against longstanding school policy.

“Nothing,” said the school’s resource officer, Fernando Luis, when asked about a walkout. “They were talking about it,” he added.

The school’s front door security guard, Kamri Roseboro, had a nice perch to discern what’s going on, sitting in the hallway all day as students come and go.

“Most of the kids left early and went to New York,” she said, in casual conversation checking a reporter in.

“A lot of them went to New York. They wanted to see that 16-year-old-girl,” she said, referring to Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, who just received Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience award.

In a message sent to parents Friday morning, Dr. Gross reviewed school policy toward a potential walkout — which the administration seemed thoroughly prepared for.

“This is not a school-sanctioned activity and our expectation is that students will be attending class. That being said, I have requested an increased police and Central Office presence on campus,” Dr. Gross said.

“Our expectation is for students to be in class. However, if they choose to walk out, we will adhere to our attendance practices. While allowing students the freedom to express themselves, we will make every effort to keep all students and staff safe.”