June 4, 2014 7:25 pm

Okanagan students strike

KELOWNA — They’re worried about losing too many days of school, so some Okanagan students decided to skip class today to get their point across.

They joined several schools across the province to protest the lack of labour talks between BC teachers and the provincial government.

Students at Doctor Knox Middle School in Kelowna get full marks for protesting 101.  With music blaring in the background, the small but organized group was attracting plenty of attention.

Cory De Roos,14, is one of the ring leaders.

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“It’s been more than six years of this going on and every two years there’s been a strike.”

It might seem like there’s a strike every two years, but records show that there have been three BC teacher strikes since 1995 — affecting 14 days of school.

Students like Zoe Thomas say any missed class time might haunt them down the road.

“Once we’re in university, they’re not going to take into account: ‘oh, well the strike was going on that year you were in grade 12. Or, oh the strike was going on that year you had to do three provincial exams.’ They’re not going to take that into account. So it needs to end.”

It was a similar scene at Glenrosa Middle School in West Kelowna where roughly 40 students walked out of class.

But only half of them actually stuck around to take part in the demonstration. Unlike the Doctor Knox group, these students are taking sides.

“For me personally, it comes as a given to support the teachers because they supported me all through my educational career. So when teachers come to need our support I believe it’s a given for us students to come back and give to them what they’ve given to us.”

There were protests up and down the Okanagan Valley, including Penticton and Vernon, but the numbers were small.

School District 23 superintendent, Hugh Gloster, says there’s a reason for that.

“Most of our students were telling us that this day is the same block rotation that would result in them missing the same subjects as they have missed on the two previous strike days, they are choosing to stay in class.”

The small numbers were most noticeable at the Okanagan’s largest high school. At Kelowna Senior Secondaryonly two out of 1800 students decided to walk out. Crystal Rehlinger was one of them.

“I feel like not many students are taking the issue as seriously as it should be taken and it’s actually kind of disappointing in my opinion that noboby got up and left with me. It’s better than no one. At least there’s two of us here.”

 

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