Around 150 students at Brock High School joined their contemporaries across Ontario in a walkout Thursday (April 4) to protest the provincial government’s proposed funding cuts and changes to education.
Mandatory e-learning, increased class sizes, reduced funding for arts programs and revisions to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) were among the topics highlighted by local students, who gathered and marched in the staff parking lot after leaving class at 1:15 p.m.
“We’re not allowing our government to jeopardize our education,” said student representative Tyler West.
Armed with a bullhorn, West and others led students in chants, including ‘Student Says No’ and ‘Cuts Hurt Kids.’
“They’re sacrificing the quality of our education to save a buck,” West said.
School administrators kept a watchful eye over the protest.
“We’ve been trying to encourage them to go back to class but we respect they have the right to peaceful protest,” said Principal James Klodnicki in an interview.
An email was also sent to parents, noting that students that participated in the walkout have been marked absent from their classes.
“Participating students left class and walked out of school at approximately 1:15 pm to join other students from across Ontario who are protesting the provincial government’s recently announced changes to education. Students who chose to leave were marked absent for any classes that were missed. Parents and guardians will be notified of these absences,” it reads.
“I wish to be clear that we as a school, and as a team of school administrators, respect and support the rights of students to participate in peaceful forms of protest for causes in which they believe. We welcome the opportunity to work with any student or student group to explore ways to do so while they remain at school. Interested students, parents or guardians are welcome to contact me or any of our school administrators at any time.”
It also notes that the school board informed police of the walkout.
“At Brock High School our top priority will always be student and staff safety. Maintaining a safe environment, while supporting the academic and well-being needs of students is a must. As a safety precaution, our Board has been in contact with Durham Region Police Service to inform them of the walkout, so they were aware that students may be walking in large numbers in areas nearby school property,” it reads.
A group of about 35 students at McCaskill’s Mills Public School in Cannington also walked out of class in a show of solidarity, gathering at the front of the school.