The WesBanco Student of the Week was nominated by two of her teachers.
Natalie Dufour, a 16-year-old junior at Franklin County High School, was nominated by French teacher Terry Johnson and former Spanish teacher and current tutor supervisor Brianna Peerce.
Johnson said Dufour is “Awesome all-around in and out of the classroom” and Peerce said that the student is now a peer tutor for Spanish.
“She breaks down instructions, helps them (peers) to navigate classwork and assignments, explains schedule changes, and shows them where they are going around the school,” Peerce said of Dufour. “She has made a lot of lives easier this year through her courage and willingness to use her second-language abilities to help others.”
Dufour is the daughter of Joel Dufour and Chris Schimmoeller. In recent weeks, Dufour was instrumental in leading local activists in a Climate Strike at the Capitol that was one of many global rallies.
State Journal: What do you enjoy about Franklin County High School?
Natalie Dufour: I was homeschooled for my entire life up until freshman year and Franklin County is just like — I can meet new people, I can participate in all these activities that when I was homeschooled, I couldn’t, and it’s just like an environment where I know that I can make a difference, other than learning, because learning is obviously the most important thing because I love to learn and I’m in challenging classes because of that, but outside of school, my goal for this year is to implement better recycling in our school and get rid of single-use styrofoam trays and put in reusable trays… and just like the fact that in Spanish class, I know I can help people because I passed the AP Spanish exam before last year, so I can help people and in other classes I guess I’m sort of a leader because I know I understand the content and I can go beyond and if people are having problems or whatever, I can just go and help them. And it just makes me feel good about myself.
SJ: You have this passion for the environment. Where does that stem from?
ND: Well, my mom is an environmental activist and she has just really inspired me, and the way that we live,— we live in the woods for like 30 minutes north of here, so it’s great to get anywhere! It’s just my entire family is so passionate about nature and how beautiful it is. I want to do whatever I can to protect the environment.
SJ: You organized a Climate Strike a few weeks ago, right?
ND: I did organize a Climate Strike. It was part of a global Climate Strike and it was an experience. At first, I was terrified because I had to go beyond my comfort zone and talk to a bunch of people, but I was like this cause means so much more to me than any insecurity I have. It was great to show up in the bus with all the people who care about the environment and then to show up at the Capitol and there were all these people there and I get out and there are even more people who come. Just standing up there, in front of the Capitol, just talking about what we can do to create change was amazing. Because of that, in order to follow up on the drive to create change, I’m organizing a climate conference on Oct. 19
SJ: So you think that strike was successful?
ND: Yes, definitely. Globally, there were four million people striking which makes it the biggest climate mobilization in history, and just being a part of something that big, we are creating change. We can have the potential to make a difference. And that is a beautiful thing.
SJ: What do you think of the reactions to adults to other young activists like you and Greta Thunberg, who is at the center of this Climate Strike?
ND: I just think that some adults who are biased, they need to open their minds and listen to us, because we have a message to give them and we have a cause that we are fighting for. There might be stereotypes in their mind. I don’t know what it is, but they need to listen to us because we have something to say.
SJ: What is in store for you as you go on this route for activism?
ND: I just want to make a difference. I want to create change in our community and in our state. I am going to keep fighting until that happens. I am just ready to bring our community together and actually organize something and make a difference.
SJ: What do you hope to do after you graduate from high school?
ND: Well, at the moment, I’m not exactly sure. I probably want to attend Centre or Transy, like a small liberal arts college in Kentucky, because I want to stay close to my family. Since I was really small I wanted to major in drama, which now I’m like drama, education because I like teaching people, and maybe political science, I don’t know. I want to do something to improve our state and our country and however that ends up happening, that’s what I’ll do. I just want to experience what I can experience and do something good.