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Interview with student organizer of walkout at Chelmsford Valley District Composite School protesting proposed closing of their school

by Naomi Grant

Photo provided
Photo provided

On October 12, 2016, students at Chelmsford Valley District Composite School held a walkout to protest the proposed consolidation of their school with Confederation Secondary School in Val Caron, as part of a large accommodation review by the Rainbow District School Board.

Kendra Brenton-Levesque is one of the organizers, and agreed to an e-mail interview after the walkout.

Grant:  Please introduce yourself and explain your role at CVDCS.

Brenton-Levesque:  My name is Kendra Brenton-Levesque and I am student council president at Chelmsford high.

Grant:    What option has the Rainbow District School Board presented for your school?

Brenton-Levesque:  The school board is in the process of making the decision to close down 25% of their schools, including ours. They plan to move all of the kids from Cartier-Chelmsford to Confederation high school and the kids from Azilda to Sudbury Secondary high school.

Grant:  How do students feel about that, and why did you feel you had to take action?

Brenton-Levesque:  The students at our school are very unhappy that it came to this decision, and are not pleased with the plans the school board wants to carry out. We felt we had to take action and show the school board that we will not stand for such an abrupt decision.

Grant:    Can you explain what the impact on the students would be if the school were to close?

Brenton-Levesque:  If the school were to close, all of the students would be separated from their friends (chelmsford/dowling/onaping/levack/cartier vs. azilda)

Grant:    What do you think the impact would be in Chelmsford? 

Brenton-Levesque:  A lot of people would move to be closer to their children's new school, ultimately dropping house values, causing businesses a huge loss of customers, community centers with few members and in the end, resulting in a ghost town area.

Grant:    Explain the action that you took, and how it was organized.

Brenton-Levesque:  Our student council organized a walkout to encourage the general public to join us in support of protesting against our schools closure. We made a bunch of protest signs and pulled over 200 kids from our school to stand on the side of the highway with us to protest.

Grant:   What outcome do you hope for?

Brenton-Levesque:  We hope that the school board will see the damage they would be doing to our communities by closing down our high school, overall ending the school closure decision.

Grant:    What response have you received from the school community, the wider community, the school board, trustees, and your MPP?

Brenton-Levesque:  Our local communities support us 100% on our protest to save our school. They agree with us totally. The school board on the other hand claims that they will take our protest into consideration in making the final decision, but this is not good enough for us.

Grant:  Have you heard anything from your MPP or the Ministry of Education?

Brenton-Levesque:  We have not heard anything from our MPP or the ministry of education yet unfortunately.

Grant:    What are your next steps?   Are you working with or in touch with other impacted schools?

Brenton-Levesque:  Our next steps would be to attend our local school held meetings with the school boards to help support our potential closing schools.

Grant:    What would you like other students ,and other citizens, to do?

Brenton-Levesque:  We would really like other students and citizens to get involved in our school held meetings, the more people we can get, the better.

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