Students at Woodland Hills Junior Senior High School wrote letters to their school board asking them to pass a climate action resolution. Photo courtesy of Communitopia.

On July 17, the Woodland Hills School District made history.

The district’s school board passed a “Call to Climate Change Action” resolution calling for state and federal lawmakers to address the climate change crisis and committed the district to a new set of eco-conscious policies.

“Climate change is here and it’s real, and we have to do anything we can to fight it,” says Mike Belmonte, the vice president of the Woodland Hills School Board. “Bringing awareness and educating our children are great ways to do that.”

Fifty-four school districts across the nation have passed similar climate actions since 2017 but Woodland Hills is the first to do so in the state of Pennsylvania.

“The Woodland Hills School Board recognizes climate change as a generational justice and human rights issue,” reads the resolution. While people at every age and every level of society are affected by our increasingly extreme climate, “it disproportionately affects people of color and people in poverty, thereby exacerbating existing inequalities and limiting equality of opportunity which is a foundational aspiration for modern America.”

The push for the resolution began in Margeaux Everhart’s eighth grade science classes at Woodland Hills Junior High School, where students took part in a Climate Change Workshop led by Pittsburgh-based environmental nonprofit Communitopia earlier this year.

Inspired by the workshop, the class sent 27 letters to the school board, expressing concern for the future of our region and our planet.

The resolution specifically calls for lawmakers to quickly enact carbon pricing policies, and directs the Woodland Hills Superintendent to create a Climate Change Committee to create a roadmap for new environmentally-conscious policies at the district level. Those policies include reducing food, instituting green design standards and incorporating more environmental studies and activism into the school’s curriculum.

Speaking to NEXTpittsburgh, Belmonte says the district will work with Communitopia to develop the new courses. The Climate Change Committee’s first meeting is in August.

Will other school districts follow suit? We’ll keep you posted.

Check out the full resolution here.

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.