J.L. Crowe Secondary students (from the left) Kara Tomasini

Walkout gives students a voice

At 9am Wednesday morning 25 Crowe students left school grounds and gathered with "Honk for Education" signs along Highway 3B.

With most of the Grade 12 class on a trip to Silverwood Theme Park, grade 10 and 11 students at J.L. Crowe Secondary were left holding down the fort during Wednesday’s student staged walkout.

At 9 a.m. about 25 students walked out and left the school site entirely, according to Greg Luterbach, superintendent of SD20.

“While I respect the desire of students to express their views regarding the current labour dispute,” he said. “The proposed walkout raises a number of concerns with regard to student safety.”

Shortly after the walkout, a handful of students gathered with “Honk for Education” signs and staged a protest to passersby along Highway 3B.

“Ever since the strike happened our classes have been cut down,” said Grade 11 student Kara Tomasini. “We haven’t been learning and we aren’t allowed to go in and see the teachers at lunch or any other time for help,” she explained. “We need help for the provincials and we can’t even get that.”

The B.C. Student Walkout for Students movement began on social media after two Lower Mainland Grade 12 students began a Facebook page encouraging their peers across the province to walk out of their classes at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Almost 14,000 students indicated they would be “going” to the day-long “event,” since dubbed “Save our Students, 2014 BC Student Walkout,” to protest the ongoing labour dispute between the B.C. Teachers Federation and the province.

“Since the strike, it’s like the teachers are just babysitting us,” said Grade 11 student Sommer Bowden. “We want an education and not someone who just sits there.”

There’s no word if the students will be disciplined for leaving school grounds because Crowe’s Principal David DeRosa was supervising the Grade 12s on the annual grad trip to the Idaho amusement park.

However, SD20 does not sanction the walkout, said Luterbach, adding that parents should be aware that student safety cannot be guaranteed and to avoid adding further disruption to learning, he encouraged students not to participate.

Elsewhere in the region, Trafalgar Middle School students in Nelson staged a walkout after the cancellation of planned school outings and school performances.

“We’re sick and tired. All the students, including me, are sick of being in the middle of this,” Grade 7 student and event spokesperson Maddy Reilly told the Nelson Star Wednesday morning.

“All they want is smaller class sizes and some more money,” she said. “They’re taking care of 20 to 29 students every day and they don’t get paid enough.”

A walk-out was also planned at L.V. Rogers Secondary, but as of 9:45 on Wednesday morning, few students had participated. Some students plan to march in solidarity with their teachers on Thursday.

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