Beal students stage walkout
London Community News
By Jonathon Brodie/London Community News / Twitter: @jonathonbrodie
About 50 H.B. Beal Secondary School students walked out of their classes at 12:30 p.m. and protested in support of their teachers Friday (Oct. 5), which coincidentally is World Teacher Day.
Teens held signs and chanted things like “Kill the Bill,” and “Negotiate the Legislate,” in reference to the Putting Students First Act.
The imposed legislation ended banked sick day payouts on retirement for public school teachers, freezes wages and bans teachers from striking for two years.
“I’m close with most of my teachers,” said Danielle Harris, a Grade 11 student at Beal, about why she joined the walkout. “I support the fact that we’re trying to make a difference for them.”
A Facebook group was started to drum up support, as well as flyers handed out by a handful of students to make others inside the school aware of the walkout.
The teens, joined by several Occupy London members, protested in front of the school, on Dundas Street, while Beal’s principal Don Macpherson stood on the steps watching. Macpherson did not want to comment on the rally.
The students carried the protest west on Dundas Street before eventually coming back to Beal and finishing the rally at the end of school day.
The students received mostly encouragement from cars passing by with horns honking, but not all people were supportive of the protest with some yelling, and even cursing, at the teens to get back to class.
“I think we have enough knowledge to be able to know what’s right from wrong. We know that it’s not right what the government is doing to the teachers,” said Bailey Hayes, one of the organizers of the event.
Public school teachers have been encouraged by their unions to withdraw from extracurricular activities to stage their own protest with some London and area schools affected by the lack of clubs and sports teams — Beal isn’t one of them, at least not yet.
“Beal hasn’t really been effected by it as much as some other schools, but we just want everyone to be aware that this can happen to us because it is happening to other places,” Hayes said. “We might be losing a basketball team, but we’re not quite sure.”