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Province wide protest calls for change

Protests, rallies and social media campaigns took place across Ontario Saturday to send a message to Premier Dalton McGuinty, The Ministry of Education and Queen’s Park.

Cambridge, Kingston, Peterborough, Norwood, Welland, Sudbury and St. Catherine’s all voiced their concerns.

The purpose of the protests was to get the attention of the provincial government regarding the “flawed process” involved in closing local schools in smaller municipalities and raise public awareness about the Accommodation Review Committee process for school closures and the governance of school boards.

According to the media release for the protest, “The message is LOUD and CLEAR: the School Closure Process, which purports to be a community consultation, a process which is funded by our tax dollars, is severely flawed.”

PCVS in Peterborough. Photo by Harrison Perkins

In 2011, the accommodation review committee (ARC) panel said it’s in the best interest of the local public school board to close one of four Peterborough  high schools. However, the panel of 34 people decided not to name one of the four schools that should close.

Instead, they left the difficult decision in the hands of the board of trustees with the local public school board. On September 29th 2011 the trustees voted to close Peterborough Colligate and Vocational School.

Since the public school board’s decision to close PCVS as a regular high school at the end of this school year, supporters have rallied to keep the school open. In early June, the matter will undergo a judicial review in a Toronto divisional court.

PCVS supporter and organizer of www.savelocalschools.com Bill Templeman says the issue PCVS supporters are fighting isn’t unique to Peterborough.

“It’s the same script across the province,” he says, noting many communities are upset about what they deem as a flawed processes leading to unnecessary school closures. “We feel the provincial government needs to look at this,”  Templeman said, adding he hoped the day of protest will create some political pressure.

A poster is taped to a pole on George Street in downtown Peterborough advertising the Province wide protest which took place today. Photo by Harrison Perkins

In my last blog about this issue, I said that there is a stigma within the student bodies of Peterborough’s high schools. Looking back, that wasn’t the best choice of words. When I walked the halls of TASSs not that long ago, it was a welcoming place, the students are great, the faculty is amazing and the vibe the school itself gives off something to be proud of.

Now, I know, it’s not PCVS, but really- when you think about it- it’s not the building that makes the community, it’s the people.

Some of those people are still going to be there in the fall. It will just be a new home.

Things, change, people move. It’s at times like this we grow as individuals.

I get that fact the school itself is important with the history and all, but sadly eventually things change. The school is beautiful and the people are amazing. Each having their own stories to share about their time within the walls of Peterborough Colligate. I was able to walk the halls with fellow journalism student Tim Bayer and a number of students who took part in the protest. They gave us a personal tour at the end of the day. I would like to take this time to thank those students who graciously welcomed us into their school and showed us not only their school but the stories from within as well. I was blown away when I walked those halls and I can see why they are so passionate about their school and hopefuully some good will come out of the court case next month. Even if this is the end of the 184 years that PCVS was a high school, TASSS has amazing programs that PCVS students will be able to enjoy, possibly the first time.

The students from PCVS will find their niche and grow at the other schools just as they did at PCVS. It won’t be exactly the same but it will at least be something.

Look at this as a positive, not negative.

Don’t think of this as the end, think of it as the start of something new.

Who knows, you just might like it.

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About harrisonperkinsjblog

Harrison Perkins Journalisim Student at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario, Canada


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May 2012
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