Skeena Middle School students across all grade levels walked out of their classrooms at 11:11 a.m. on May 1, 2019. They gathered at Coast Mountains School District 82’s head office on Kenney St. to protest against staffing changes announced by the district last week. (Brittany Gervais/The Terrace Standard)

Skeena Middle School students across all grade levels walked out of their classrooms at 11:11 a.m. on May 1, 2019. They gathered at Coast Mountains School District 82’s head office on Kenney St. to protest against staffing changes announced by the district last week. (Brittany Gervais/The Terrace Standard)

‘Save our principals’: Terrace students walk out to protest staffing changes

This would affect several schools in the district, with two principals assuming teaching positions

About 50 students across all grade levels walked out of Skeena Middle School Wednesday in protest of staffing changes announced by the school district last week.

In a news release, Coast Mountains School District 82 said current Skeena Middle School principal Phillip Barron and vice-principal Cory Killoran would be leaving their administrative positions for teaching positions in September, meaning the school’s top leaders would be leaving.

The current principal at Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School in Hazelton, Cindy Sousa, was appointed to be the middle school’s new principal.

READ MORE: School district briefs: Stewart protests possible budget cuts

The students walked out of their classes at 11:11 a.m. and gathered outside the Coast Mountains School District 82 head office on Kenney St., chanting “Save our principals!” in unison.

“It came out of nowhere,” says Grade 9 student Ryhan Nester.

Nester says students were upset when they were told Barron and Killoran would be taking teaching positions after refusing to relocate to administrative positions at a New Hazelton school. They were also told both Barron and Killoran would be teaching at Thornhill Elementary, not Skeena Middle School.

Upset at the changes, Nester says the students didn’t have anything organized but quickly gathered together, walked out of their classrooms, and headed toward the school district’s office.

“They’re not only good principals, but good people as well. They look after us like we’re family,” Nester says.

“Many of our teachers said we could do this, and that this is up to us. They can’t say anything because they could lose their jobs.”

“Students have voices too and we can fight for our rights,” added Grade 9 student Brianna Onstein.

READ MORE: School district scrambles to fill vacant teaching spots

The students were not only protesting changes to their school administration but changes to other schools in the district as well.

Suwilaawks Community School principal Pam Kawinksy will be assuming a teaching position, with current vice-principle Julia Jacobs stepping into the role to replace her.

The current vice-principal at Mount Elizabeth Middle/Secondary School in Kitimat, Christine Byrd, was appointed as the school’s new principal.

The changes have also left vacancies at the schools affected. CMSD82 is now conducting a Canada-wide search for a new principal for Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School, and new vice-principals for Cassie Hall Elementary, Mount Elizabeth Secondary School and Skeena Middle School.

Missing from the school district’s news release is a reason indicating why these staffing changes are necessary.

“I’ve grown up with Mr. Barron and Mr. Killoran playing hockey with their kids, I’ve known them my whole life. They shouldn’t have to leave,” says another student.

Nester says the students plan to stay as “long as it takes” until the district gives them an explanation for the changes.

At the time of this posting interview requests with the school district have not been returned.

More to come.


 


brittany@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Homalco First Nation said that it will intervene in the judicial review sought by aquaculture companies with regards to federal decision to phase out 19 Discovery Island fish farms by 2022. In this picture from Sept. 24, a demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver.(Quinn Bender photo)
Chief says push for fish farm judicial review a challenge to reconciliation, Aboriginal Rights

Homalco First Nation chief reacts to Mowi and Cermaq intervention in Discovery Island decision

An officer fills up back of a police car with toys. (Submitted photo)
Port Hardy RCMP give back to local community members in need

“We leave,” says Voller “but a piece of our hearts stays in each community we served in.”

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Hecht Beach cabin in ashes. (Submitted)
Beloved secret cabin lost to fire on the North Island’s west coast

The trappers cabin was shared with locals, but kept mostly secret

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at a fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. Mowi Canada has applied to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the decision by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to phase out salmon farming in the Discovery Islands by June, 2022. (Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward photo)
Major B.C. salmon farms seek court intervention in Discovery Islands ban

Fisheries minister is phasing out operations in the area by June 2022

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Dutch man, 94, facing unwanted trip home can stay in B.C. with wife of 45 years

Immigration offices cuts red tape so couple of 45 years can stay together in Victoria area

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier, health officials to discuss next steps in COVID immunization plan

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Most Read