- Our Town
Students join B.C. walkout, write letters
It was another week of action as teachers, parents and students in School District #83 continue to be affected by the ongoing dispute between the B.C. Teachers Federation and the provincial government.
June 4 saw students across the province taking strike action of their own, with approximately 20 students of Salmon Arm Secondary’s Jackson campus walking out of their classes to participate. The students stood on the corridor to the highway with signs opposing the ongoing rift between the BCTF and the government.
SAS student Chad Baker, said the students aren’t taking sides.
“We want everyone to know that we aren’t on either side, we just want it to stop,” said Baker. “When elephants fight, grass gets hurt, and we don’t want that happening here.”
Mikayla Arnason said the strike feels similar to parents getting a divorce.
“We’re caught in the middle,” said Arnason.
Although it was quiet throughout most of the schools in the district, students are still taking action in different ways.
Bruce Weicker, who is filling in as principal at Carlin Elementary Middle School, said an assembly was held to make students aware of the planned walk out, but most students discovered that a better way of protesting may be to write letters to people involved in the dispute.
Students were supplied with names of government and BCTF members who they could write letters too.
One anonymous student from Salmon Arm Secondary had already jumped on the initiative to write a letter, but theirs was directed to SAS teachers.
The letter was posted on teachers’ doors at SAS Tuesday morning, and outlined the student’s appreciation.
“What I want to say to each and every one of you is that I appreciate you and everything you do for your students,” read the letter. “I know that all of this job action is because you love and would do anything to see your students succeed and be happy.”
The letter went on to talk about how the student aspires to be a teacher, but they are scared to be entering a profession that, they say, is so hated by the public.
“Teachers are a special type of people, they are loyal, determined, hard working and love their students. Some people can be taught to teach but others were truly born to teach. Keep fighting the good fight and, come Tuesday, when you are all out there picketing, remember that your students love you and that yes, you are making a difference,” read the letter.
The letter was signed, “Students of this year, last year, and all years to come.”
For teachers of Bastion Elementary School, the current lockout didn’t prevent them from enjoying their annual staff appreciation luncheon; they just had to make a few adjustments.
“There was a lot of debate whether it was going to happen this year [due to the dispute]” said Mary Preston, parent and member of the Bastion Elementary Parents Advisory Council, who has been putting on the luncheon for the past seven years. “But we decided it would be a great way to show our support for everyone.”
Numerous parents and staff brought in homemade meals for a pot-luck style lunch, and the teachers dished up and headed outside to chow down as they are leaving school property during their lunch hour due to the government’s lockout provisions.
“We’re very grateful that they would still make the effort to bring it outside,” said Ingrid van Varseveld, Grade 1 teacher.
The Provincial Labor Relations Board was expected to make a decision Wednesday on whether the teacher’s wage rollback of 10 per cent issued for participating in walk outs was justified, but the ruling was made after the Shuswap Market News press time.