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June 18th, 2010
11:28 AM ET

"We have a voice. We should say something."

Rich Dool
AC360°

Editor's Note: Anderson Cooper and AC360° received more than 60 letters from 6th graders in Beaumont, California. Some of those letters are posted below. Click on the thumbnails of the letters to read them.

Read some of the letters here

"We have a voice. We should say something." That’s the message from Brian Lindeman to his 6th grade science and math class at San Gorgonio Middle School in Beaumont, California More than 30 students have fallen into a rare moment of silence. Their eyes are glued to the projection screen behind Mr. Lindeman. On the screen is AC360.com and the disturbing images coming from the Gulf oil spill.

As the disaster is unfolding, by coincidence, the students are studying the impact of trash and oil on the environment. “The timing of the spill made for an interesting situation. The class was able to bring in articles each day that were related to material we were studying," Lindeman told AC360.

"We wanted to focus on the environment and the community and stay away from whose fault it was and the politics. And CNN had more of that information than anyone else did; so we started following your site for daily updates," Lindeman added.

Lindeman stressed to his students that there are things they can do to help. He told them, even at the age of the 11, they do have a voice and can be heard. So the students started writing letters. They wrote to the person they thought might have some answers: Anderson Cooper.

"I, and all of my classmates are writing a letter to you because we are concerned about the animals, plants, pollution, fresh water and the humans and their jobs. I would like to know what is going to stop this? Who is going to? And especially when?" – Aryana

"This is a special group of kids", Lindeman told us. "They really wanted to do something. We were getting most of our information from AC360.com so they wanted to write. They wanted to say 'Hey! We are listening! We are paying attention! What can we do?'” “I told them maybe you will be the spark. We can write and maybe someone else will write. That's how movements start," Linderman said.

Every student wrote a letter. Many of their concerns were similar.

They care about the animals:

"We are very concerned about the environment and the living habitats. How can we make the environment more clean?"- Kaylin

They worry about the residents of the Gulf:

"Please tell BP to do something about the oil spill because every day more oil spills out and more animals and plants will die and more people will go out of business. At least give some money to the fishermen who make their living on the fish and shrimp in the ocean."

They worry about the people impacted the most by the disaster.

"I have many questions to ask you about the oil spill right now. One question is what will happen to the people that fish for their jobs?"- Savannah

And, like the rest of the country, they want an answer to this

"How are people going to make sure spills like this won't happen again? Because if these spills keep happening our water will be forever dirty and our ecosystems will be damaged and more and more jobs will be lost!" – Hailey

When asked why his students were so insistent on doing something, Lindeman said, "We live in a small town in California. There is a real sense of community pride here. And that pride helps when you talk about other communities in trouble. They were genuinely concerned about other people potentially hurting. They connect their community to other communities."

It’s a connection with no boundaries. A connection fueled by a teacher with a powerful message, “We have a voice. We should be heard."

Read more of the letters here...


Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill • Rich Dool