| Apr 08, 2019

Chanting “Students say no” and carrying signs, about 75 Granite Ridge Education Center secondary students lined up in front of the school Thursday afternoon to protest the provincial governments changes to the Ontario public education system.

On March 15, the Education Ministry announced the removal of $36.1 million from the Cost Adjustment Allocation and the adjustment to the School Facility Operations and Renewal Grant which could change the average class size from 22 students to 1 teacher to 28:1 or greater.

Grade 11 Ryleigh Rioux and Grade 12 Morgan Howes are co-presidents of the Student Council and were instrumental in organizing the walkout/protest that began around 1:15 p.m. Thursday.

“We went to the principal (James McDonald) and discussed it with him before we planned anything,” said Rioux. “We think it’s important that youth is properly educated.”

“And, we want to support our teachers,” said Howes.

“I have a younger sister and I want her to have the same educational opportunities I’ve had,” said Rioux. “Every little bit of funding helps and every cut makes it that much harder to get an education.

“Our hope is to make a difference. We are a small school in God knows where but we signed up.”

Howes said they handed out information sheets before the protest “so everyone knows what they’re standing up for.

“Freedom of speech is important.”

Freedom of speech is something Principal McDonald can relate to.

“The school’s position is that they (the students) should be in class,” McDonald said. “(But) we also respect that students have voice and concerns.

“Ultimately, we want our students to be safe.”

Estimates are that more than 800 schools across the province participated in the student protest.

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