An estimated 200 students defied NSW Department of Education edicts, and took the day off school to send a message to politicians: stop climate change!
"We're striking for climate action because we believe politicians aren't doing enough for our generation," Phebe Hunt said. She's organising the School Strike 4 Climate event with fellow Armidale School Year 12 student Shayla Oates.
"We're the ones inheriting this earth, and there's nothing done about the fact that our climate is falling apart."
The Armidale strikers joined youngsters in more than 90 countries around the world in the Global #ClimateStrike, which CNN calls one of the largest environmental protests in history.
Nearly 60 School Strikes 4 Climate are being held in Australia alone, with thousands of students striking in capital cities. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the NSW Department of Education had condemned the strikes, while state opposition leader Michael Daley supported the rallies.
Australian students are calling on the government to stop the proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland, the largest in Australia; not build any more coal or gas plants; and switch to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
The Armidale students (and plenty of adult supporters) assembled in Central Park at 9am, then marched through the centre of town, carrying environmentalist placards and chanting slogans.
In the Mall, they asked Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall what the National Party was doing about climate change. (Full story here.)
The state government, Mr Marshall said, had a target of net zero carbon in NSW by 2050. Locally, Mr Marshall had supported renewable energy development since he was elected, with some of the biggest wind - and, soon, solar - farms in the state.
He thought it unlikely Australia would switch completely to renewables by 2030, but believed the market was trending in that direction. He would like New Englanders put solar panels on their rooves to trade energy, and put solar panels on government buildings.
The strike, Mr Marshall thought, was "great". He supported young people having their views, and getting together.
Phebe Hunt would like to see more policies regarding renewable energy, and more politicians acknowledge that climate change is an issue, and work towards using green energy and reducing waste.
"We need to incentivise people to take action," Ria Kealey (Year 12, school undisclosed) agreed; "the people here today will be of voting age in a couple of years, and we need politicians to know that they're not going to get our votes if they don't take direct action."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Federal Parliament can expect to hear from thousands of students like Phebe and Ria next week. The student strikers around Australia have organised a mass letter writing campaign; Armidale students sent 85 letters.
"It's not necessarily about them reading every single letter," Phebe said, "because there are people striking all over the country today. It's important that they see how many of us are writing, and that we're all writing for the same purpose, so that they can acknowledge this is actually a huge issue, and something on the forefront of so many of our minds."
Dante Holmes-Bradshaw said he was striking for climate action because he had seen the environmental damage in developing countries like Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand.
Stephanie Clark (another TAS Year 12 student) said she was anxious about missing school in her HSC year - "but this is such a big cause that we really want to get involved as much as we can".
"I'm trying to get my voice heard because our generation will be affected the most by climate change," she said. "We want the people in parliament to really understand what we're doing, and why we're doing it, and move past [thinking] this is just a day off school."
Younger children also protested today.
"We're fighting for our democratic right to save our future, because it's ours, not theirs," Arlie Bragg, in Grade 6 at the Waldorf School, said.
"[Climate change] is not an abstract concept," Ria explained. "It's going to directly affect our future and the futures of generations to come. The generations and children who are coming after me deserve the same future and the same childhood that I got to live. They're not going to get that if we continue at the same rate of unsustainable living."
Students in Glen Innes went on strike on Friday afternoon.