Secondary school walkouts continue

Anya  Benders and Jessica McCallum-Miller hold up signs during this mornings school walkout where local students protested the loss of their recess. - Janine Workman
Anya Benders and Jessica McCallum-Miller hold up signs during this mornings school walkout where local students protested the loss of their recess.
— image credit: Janine Workman

For the second day in a row, students in Terrace and Thornhill have walked out of their schools to protest the loss of recess.

Students from three secondary schools in Terrace met around 11 a.m. at Caledonia Senior Secondary school before marching as a group towards Thornhill to meet students from the junior secondary school there.

This is in reaction to day-two of no recess for schools in the Coast Mountains School district, something district staff said they had to cancel due to a lack of manpower as phase one of job action has prevented teachers from performing supervision duties.

For the past month, district staff has been travelling to schools to supervise, but Coast Mountains' superintendent, Nancy Wells sent home a letter last week informing parents that they are no longer able to perform their regular tasks and continue recess supervision.

School is now starting 15 minutes late and running through until lunch.

Terrace students held signs and chanted “we want our freedom,” as they headed towards Thornhill to meet up with students there.

At Thornhill Junior Secondary School, a fire alarm was set off, forcing students out of the building, where some left to meet up with students in Terrace for the protest.

About 60 students ended up converging on the Keith Ave. overpass, before heading to the Terrace and District Teachers' Union office, where they knocked on the door and spoke with local president Karen Andrews.

We (teachers in the area) are equally as frustrated as you are,” Andrews told the students before going inside to get a letter from Coast Mountains' superintendent Nancy Wells, and pointing out to students they should be talking to the school district.

The kids are getting bounced around,” said a Thornhill student, Jamie Essay, who added that she took part in the walk-out under the threat of expulsion from her school.

Students then walked to the school district offices where they were greeted by Wells and other district staff who listened to their concerns.

Event organizer Jessica McCallum-Miller read a speech to district staff and said that students see what is going on around them.

We are people, not pawns,” she said.

A Parkside student, Dakota Anderson, said the lack of a break was very trying on students who suffer from hyperactivity.

Half of us can't sit for two hours,” he said.

Wells explained to students the issue is a provincial one.

We don't like this either,” said Wells, “It's a lot bigger than us folks in Terrace.”

Some students said they will continue to walk out of classes in protest or find other ways, like skipping school, to get their break.

Jesse Longpre from Parkside Secondary School said if recess is not reinstated, students will be attending the next school board meeting to air their concerns to trustees.

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