Student demonstration shows support for Cedar

NANAIMO – Students protest proposal to move secondary school students out of Cedar and close four elementary schools in the area.

The proposal to move all secondary school students out of Cedar and close four elementary schools in that area prompted a student-organized rally Monday.

About four dozen students, parents and support workers rallied in front of the board office at noon to protest a recommendation in a consultant’s report on what should go in Nanaimo school district’s 10-year facilities plan.

Doug Player’s report, made public two weeks ago, includes school closures, rebuilding facilities, new programs and relocation of existing programs.

For Cedar-area schools, he recommends moving Cedar Secondary students to John Barsby and closing North Cedar, North Oyster, South Wellington and Woodbank elementary schools and moving those students to Cedar Secondary.

Maddie Lussier, a Grade 11 student at Cedar Secondary and one of the rally’s organizers, said rally participants wanted to show trustees how important the school is to them.

“We’re doing this because Cedar is our home,” she said. “It deserves the respect other schools get.”

Lussier questioned how much money the district would save by moving secondary students out of Cedar because the secondary school would need modifications for the elementary students and suggests cutting administrative positions instead.

Madeline Shred, a Grade 10 student at Cedar, said she’s concerned about the extra travel time for students.

“If we went to Barsby, we’d have to spend hours and hours on the bus and we wouldn’t be able to participate in extra-curricular activities,” she said, adding there should be at least one elementary and one secondary school in Cedar.

Grade 11 student Braxton Clark is skeptical that massing the two secondary schools together will allow for better course offerings – at Cedar, he is taking an all-basketball physical education class that he doesn’t think would be offered at John Barsby. He said if only three people from Cedar and three people from Barsby want to take a particular course, the consolidated school still would not be able to offer it.

Jacquelyn Cook, whose daughter is in Grade 10 at Cedar, said the school has the population it needs to sustain itself.

“They only built that school 10 years ago for the reason that Cedar is growing and needed a high school,” she said. “That school is part of the heart of the community. A lot of people are upset about this.”

Cook said the group wanted to let their feelings be known before district staff presented a draft facilities plan to trustees after press deadline Wednesday.

“We want to jump on it now,” she said. “We don’t want them to even consider it.”

Please see Saturday’s edition for coverage of the draft facilities plan.

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