cutline: Students in Agassiz made t-shirts to let passersby know they were walking out of school on Wednesday as part of a B.C.-wide

Students take turn walking out

Agassiz students say they're tired of strike action and lockouts

At least a dozen students walked out of their classes Wednesday morning in Agassiz, taking what homework they could carry down the halls of AESS, passing their teachers and administration and heading out the front door.

Once out, they said they were told they wouldn’t be allowed back in.

Some tried to sign out properly, others knew it would be futile, as #walkout2014 got underway across the province.

Thousands of B.C. students were expected to participate in the walkout, many of them fed up with their teachers’ strike action and the government lockouts.

“I think all of this could have been done without a strike,” said Cassandra Grand, a Grade 9 AESS student. Students in the Fraser Cascade have been told those participating in the walkout will have to make the missed class time up through detentions. But they wonder, with teachers unable to help students before and after school, or during breaks, when that extra class time would happen.

“They’re the ones ruining our class time in the first place,” Grand said. “They’re ruining our chances to get good grades in our final exams.”

Jessi Sparks will be crossing the stage at AESS on Friday night for commencement, along with her 37 fellow grads. She said the threat of punishment for walking out is “hypocritical” considering the confusion that exists in their learning environment. She was among the dozen or so students who walked out and set up a protest in front of the Agassiz library. As they danced and screamed for support, passing cars honked in support.

“I’m mostly here because I’m tired of being stuck in the middle,” Sparks said. “Teachers are supposed to be helping us but they’re hindering us. They say it’s all for us. It’s like being stuck between a divorce.”

Wednesday was the only day this week that B.C. schools were not affected by the rotating strike action implemented by the BCTF — a strike action that has now gone on for two weeks.

The students who walked out in Agassiz on Wednesday aren’t just upset about the strike action and lockouts. They are also tired of crowded classrooms, cutbacks, teachers without resources, and what they see as misspending of school district funds.

“You never get enough one on one time with teachers,” said Emily Steward, Grade 10. Alanah Paris, also in Grade 10, agreed. She is also very worried that the past two weeks without full teacher support will affect her final grades.

“Sometimes I’ll stay after school,” she said, for help in math and sciences. “And now I can’t get help.”

She’s “struggling to remember formulas” that she knows will be on the finals. But the struggles started right at the school year, she said, when the Planning 10 course didn’t even have enough desks for all the students in the class. In another class, her teacher had to split the class into two computer rooms, spreading instructing time among two completely separate groups.

They have heard AESS may lose their portables over the summer, and that has them wondering how crowded classes will be when they return in the fall.

Some of the girls who walked out Wednesday said they would love to have a sewing class to complement the foods course. Sparks said she’s been unimpressed with the high priority her school has on sports, while the arts isn’t as supported.

She said there are at least four teachers for sports, but only one art teacher.

“The walls are plastered with sports achievements, but there’s one little section on a wall for arts,” she said. “I understand our school is small but we still need things.”

They were anxiously waiting to find out if teachers will be allowed to attend graduation ceremonies on Friday night. That day there will be no school in Fraser Cascade, as part of the BCTF rotating strike action. The ceremony has been moved up to 5:30 p.m. as picket lines end at 5 p.m.

Lynne Marvell, president of the Fraser-Cascade Teachers’ Association, said that decision would be heard at 4 p.m. on Wednesday from the Labour Relations Board, after this newspaper’s deadline.

Teachers at AESS typically hand out awards, emcee the event, run the audio visual and even usher the graduation ceremony.

“They’ve spent all this time with us to help us finish school and they aren’t even allowed to be there,” Sparks said.

news@ahobserver.com

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

How much does your city spend per person on snow removal?

Black Press Media compares 2018 ice and snow removal budgets of various Lower Mainland communities

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

UPDATE: Chilliwack man arrested for Agassiz break and enters

Westin Ferguson, 19, faces charges relating to break and enters throughout Agassiz

Short closures on Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge during pier upgrades

The project comes before the major retrofit of the bridge, which has been in the works since 2017

Preliminary inquiry starts for Chilliwack woman charged in 2016 fatal hit-and-run

Linnea Labbee, 70, accused in Dec. 1, 2016 incident that killed 78-year-old Fourghozaman Firoozian

VIDEO: Wheelchairs teach Agassiz students acceptance through sport

Teacher Donna Gallamore brought wheelchairs to the Kent Elementary for learning and fun

Market volatility, mortgages loom over upcoming earnings of Canada’s big banks

Central bank interest hikes have padded the banks’ net interest margins

Hearings into SNC-Lavalin affair start today, but not with Wilson-Raybould

She has repeatedly cited solicitor-client privilege to refuse all comment

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Tilray to acquire hemp food company Manitoba Harvest for up to $419 million

Tilray will pay $150 million in cash and $127.5 million in stock.

Tears, flowers at impromptu memorial for Syrian children killed in Halifax fire

The family had only lived in the Quartz Drive home for a few months

NDP candidates push for stronger climate action as Singh supports LNG Canada

Singh has tried to project unity in the party while facing internal criticism for poor fundraising and low support in the polls

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

Most Read