A group of Terry Fox Secondary students are raising their voices in harmony to support the plight of their teachers.
More than 20 students lined Poirier Street outside the school district offices Tuesday afternoon, equipped with handmade picket signs bearing messages such as "Honk for Education" and "Democracy not Dictatorship."
A nearby parked car blared show tunes from Legally Blonde, the musical the students have been rehearsing for the past five months.
They're determined that the show will go on, regardless of the strike.
While waving their signs at honking cars, the students belted out songs in the sun.
Elsa Sainas, co-organizer of the protest, said they all appreciate the work of their teachers.
"Our teachers support us so much and it's really important that our education is put first and that it's funded. It's really hard to organize things like our musical or music programs if there's barely any funding," said the Grade 12 student, holding a handful of brightly coloured protest brochures.
"[The musical] is a big deal to us. It's not like the strike is making this a hard thing to do. It's how the government has been treating our education and that teachers have to go on a strike to fight for us, which we totally appreciate. That's why we're out here helping them."
The group hosted its own rehearsal Monday, and members wrapped up by making picket signs to show solidarity for their teachers who couldn't be there.
"A lot of us are in Grade 12, so you'd think that it wouldn't really affect us because we're graduating, but we have little brothers and sisters," Sainas said.
"For me, this is a career path. I want to become a teacher, so it's a really big deal to me. So if any of this changes, it's going to be really hard to try and get a job, or have a job that's well-funded for me."
Co-organizer Brooklyn Crick feels the same way.
"We're supporting the teachers because they've put so much into all of this. Of course we want them to come to a conclusion so we can get back to school, but we still want them to be appreciated for what they do for us," said the 17-year-old.
"As much as we want compromise, we still want the teachers to get what they want. If they don't get appreciated for all they do, it's not going to be good either way."
Grade 12 student Sara Urban contacted The NOW Monday to stress her support for the strike.
"It's not just the teachers, but we as students deserve more than we're getting right now.
The crowded classrooms are ridiculous," Urban said by phone.
"If they're not just going to give a raise to the teachers, who deserve it for what they have to put up with on a daily basis, they should then just hire on more teachers so the tasks are spread out throughout the people who have to put up with those jobs."
It's depressing to go to school and sit through classes where teachers seem to have given up due to feeling underappreciated, she added.
"As you can imagine, if you felt underappreciated, you wouldn't try as hard and you'd kind of fall behind and give up. They've been doing the best they can with what they have received. I fully believe that."
Currently, it's a "lose-lose" situation for both teachers and students, Urban said.
"I'd like to see a change in the class sizes and support for the teachers - Personally I think they do deserve a raise, but I don't see how that would change the class size and everything," she said.
"I'm eventually going to become a teacher myself. That's why I'm so involved in this cause - because I'd like to see it change. I've seen it get worse over the years and I'd like it to get better before I become one. I want to make a difference in students' lives as well."
The teachers' initial three-day walk-off is expected to conclude today (Wednesday), with classes resuming Thursday. The Labour Relations Board ruled that the B.C. Teachers' Federation could then withdraw services for one out of every five days per week, with two days notice.
Meanwhile, the provincial government is considering legislation that would implement a "cooling off period" and suspend strike action while calling on a mediator to settle the dispute.
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