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Chilliwack students join walkout for education

A group of Sardis secondary students walked out of classes Wednesday to support their education and show the teachers union and government they
A group of Sardis secondary students walked out of classes Wednesday to support their education and show the teachers union and government they're fed up with the ongoing labour dispute.
— image credit: Staff photo

A group of students at Sardis secondary are fed up with the ongoing battle between teachers and the government.

At 9 a.m. Wednesday morning approximately 40 students walked out of class as part of a province-wide student walkout. Across the street from the school they held up bright yellow and orange signs with messages that included:

"I need math to pass!"

"Strike + Lockout = Walkout"

"Our education is not a game so stop playing with it!"

By 10:30 a.m., 13 students remained. Some left the school, others went back to class. Those who remained said they'd be there until the end of the school day.

"They're the ones fighting, but we're the ones suffering," said Grade 10 student Paige Battilana, the only student to walk out of her class.

"Both sides say they're doing this for us, yet we're the ones caught in the middle," said Grade 11 student William Wiev.

Grade 11 student Autumn Burhof, an avid dancer, lamented over how she and her peers in dance class spent all year practicing and preparing for the year-end recital, only to have it possibly not go ahead "because teachers can't be on school property after school hours," she said.

"If they can do a lockout, then we can do a walkout."

Grade 12 student Abra Yeomans is worried she won't get into the universities she applied for if her high school transcripts are incomplete as a result of the lockout.

"If they're not able to mark my exams then my transcripts are going to be incomplete," said Yeomans who's applied to Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Thompson Rivers University and the University of Victoria. "When they go to my transcripts and review my grades and if they're incomplete, I'll be turned away automatically.

"Its not fair," she said.

"The government is using us as pawns," said Grade 11 student Ryan Keeping. "Teachers want to be able to help us, but the government won't let them."

The B.C. Student Walkout for Students was organized through Facebook by a Grade 12 student in Surrey as a way for students across B.C. to take a stand for their education. On the Facebook event page it says:

"The students in British Columbia have been put in the middle of the labour dispute between the BCTF and the Government for our entire schooling. For some of us, that means our entire thirteen years of education… both sides need to get their act together and reach an agreement. This has been going on far too long (thirteen years too long) and the students are the ones losing out, all because adults cannot get along."

There were no students protesting at G.W. Graham middle-secondary school, however there were students out at Chilliwack Middle School.

In a message emailed to parents, and posted on school websites Tuesday, school superintendent Evelyn Novak urged caution.

“School and district personnel cannot guarantee student safety once students leave the property, nor will we provide supervision of participating students,” she wrote.

“Students who choose to participate in this “Walk Out for Students” will be recorded as an unexcused absence.”

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

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