WC students join provincial walkout

KINBURN – Hundreds of school students across West Carleton joined roughly 600 schools across the province in a 1:15 p.m. school walkout today (April 4) in protest of proposed cuts to the education system and an expected increase in class sizes.

Teachers across Ontario are sporting these pins today. Courtesy Facebook
Teachers across Ontario are sporting these pins today. Courtesy Facebook

The student walkout was not a surprise to school officials and many schools in West Carleton, greater Ottawa and the Arnprior area sent communications to parents in anticipation. West Carleton Online can confirm both Stonecrest Elementary School in Kinburn and St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Arnprior sent letters to parents in advance of the walkout.

It can be assumed school boards recommended all principals take this action.

“We do not know what participation will occur at our school, but we wanted to ensure that you were aware,” Stonecrest Principal Cindy Alce wrote in a letter to parents and guardians one confirmed they received today. “We will be reminding students that the proposed walkout is not school or District (sic) sanctioned, and students are expected to be in class and regular instruction is planned. The school will be taking attendance as usual. Any student not in class or leaving class in order to participate in the walkout will be considered on an unexcused absence and parents/guardians will be notified as per our regular practice.”

Boards have already stated there will be no further punishment to students participating in the walkout.

West Carleton Online was at Stonecrest in time for the walkout and witnessed what looked like more than 100 students participating. Some had signs and chanting was overheard. The students were monitored by teachers and the principal who also spoke to West Carleton Online about access at the school. West Carleton Online remained on public property on Stonecrest Road during its coverage of the event.

West Carleton Secondary School student council co-chair Sam Sharp told West Carleton Online about 200 students participated in the walkout at the Dunrobin high school.

The protest comes in the wake of announced changes to the education system including the slashing of almost $100-million in education job funding, the loss of 18,000 teaching jobs, revamping the health and physical education curriculum and an almost 30 per cent increase in high school class sizes.

Conversation on the Stonecrest Elementary School Parents Discussion Group remained positive with many of the 76 comments expressing the importance of students being civic minded as long as they were informed on the issue.

“If my kids understand why and are willing to stand up that should be encouraged not punished,” one commenter posted. “I fully support any kids that walk out to protest against these ridiculous cuts to education.”

Meanwhile, in legislature this morning, Premier Doug Ford said the students were “pawns” during Question Period.

“Stop using the students as a bunch of pawns because that’s what the union bosses are doing right now,” Ford told legislature. “The average high school class size is increasing from 22 to 28. We will still be the lowest class size in the country.”