A few hundred students, parents, educators and environmental activists rallied Saturday on the steps of Portland City Hall to promote “solarizing” the city schools and moving closer to a goal of running all city buildings on renewable energy by 2040.

The afternoon demonstration, dubbed “SunDay on Saturday,” was organized by SolaRISE Portland and included speeches, music and a march to Deering Oaks. It was part of an ongoing effort to educate students and others about climate change and solar power.

Natalie Molnar, a fourth-grader from Presumpscot Elementary School, attended the rally with classmate Mya Clark. Natalie, 10, noted that while Maine spends more than $5 billion on fossil fuels annually, according to the Governor’s Energy Office, solar energy is pretty much free after the equipment is installed.

“I don’t want fossil fuels polluting the planet,” she said. “I believe solar would be good for the schools, for Maine and for the environment.”

Students from Portland public and private schools have been meeting occasionally to take action on climate change, such as encouraging recycling at Portland High School, banning single-use plastic straws and working to reduce food waste. They have partnered with city officials, the Sierra Club’s Climate Action Team and ReVision Energy of Portland.

“The rally today shows city officials and school board representatives that the youth of Portland really care about putting solar on schools and combating climate change,” said Lucia Daranyi, a junior at Casco Bay High School.

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