Students walk out to support teachers

 

By Joel Charron

Nearly 200 General Amherst students walked out of classes Wednesday morning to protest the Putting Students First Act.

The protesting students were ushered to the adjacent property next to the school where students huddled around as they waved signs and chanted “Kill the Bill.”

The students were protesting the legislation put forth by the Ontario Liberals that froze wages and ended banked sick days payout on retirement for public school teachers. In response to the legislation teachers at some schoosl have been participating in work-to-rule actions, leaving students without afterschool activities.

On Wednesday Amherst students showed their support of their teachers by walking out of class.

“They are screwing over the teachers,” said Grade 11 students Joel Wismer. “The students see it as a problem for us so we are taking action.”

The atmosphere was rowdy but peaceful and featured more students just standing around than picking up a sign and chanting slogans.

Fifth year student Matt Ward-Trybumlak, who was protesting on his spare said although the walkout is a start, students need to do more than just walk out of class.

General Amherst students walked out of class Wednesday morning in support of the teachers.

“If they really want people to notice I think we should start a petition or something on our own time,” said Ward-Trybumlak. “But this is a start, it shows that we stand behind our teachers.”

Student Parliament Prime Minister Michael West and Deputy Prime Minister Alex Leroux said they were “disappointed” in the student body for walking out and felt that the majority of the students didn’t know why they were walking out.

“At Massey and the other Windsor schools, they are doing this for a purpose,” said Leroux. “Here at Amherst most of the students aren’t doing this for the right reason. A lot of the students just wanted to get out of class and the only reason why they are still on school property is because they are forced to stay here.”

“They’re not educated enough to do it for the right reason,” she continued.

West said the students have every right to protest, however he said it would have more of an impact if they did something on their own time.

“This disrupts other students, teachers and administration, making their job harder than it all ready is dealing with this,” stated West. “If they wanted to protest they could have easily done this at lunch and still be safe.”

Leroux said she and West have attempted to used social media outlets to help educate the students on the situation.

“Michael and I have been on Twitter and Facebook, we’ve talked to student council and we talked to kids in person and over the phone, telling students this about the teachers and walking out isn’t the right thing to do,” said Leroux.

West and Leroux noted that the majority of those who walked out are Grade 9 and 10 students.

“There aren’t very many seniors out here. I’ve seen maybe ten, tops,” said Leroux.

Leroux said Bill 115 affects mainly affects senior students.

“The senior students are the ones who are going to suffer,” she said. “This is our last year to play sports and get scholarships. It’s our prom that will be canceled, it’s our last year for student council and the senior students are the ones not out here when it affects us the most.”

Scott Scantlebury, the public relations officer for the Greater Essex County District School Board, said the protest presented a challenge.

“First and foremost, we discourage any activities that interrupts the instructional day,” he said. “But on the other hand, we encourage students to think critically, to express themselves, to have a social conscience, to be active in their communities. And that is what they’re doing.”

Most schools set aside a block of time when students were allowed to protest without getting in trouble, but they were expected to return to class after that. Scantlebury said he didn’t know exactly how many schools participated in the walkout, since it was entirely student-led.

It was up to each school to decide how to discipline students who didn’t return to class, Scantlebury said.

General Amherst principal Hazel Keefner declined to comment but stated

“Our concern right now is to ensure the safety and well being of the students who are protesting.”

One response to “Students walk out to support teachers”

  1. Jena Couch says:

    I was one of the amherst students, but unlike most i knew what i was fighting for, and i know what I`m still fighting against, i dont care if some dissagree but its that i believe in. My cousin in grade 8 wont get her graduation ceramony, teachers who need thier sick days wont be able to use them, they cancled my Choir, and my friends Band trip. Highschool is suposed to be the best four years of our lives before we have to grow up, Those four years are being taken away by the Union, who are trying to fight off the goverment.
    Honestly how is it the students first act if students are getting affected the most.
    Im standing up for my rights,and for my and my younger sibblings future.