Extra-curricular activities are a go at VCI
Up until this week, students at Vankleek Hill Collegiate Institute (VCI) weren't quite certain what extra-curricular activities, if any, were running at their school.
The Review received phone calls from a number of concerned parents last week who wanted to know what extra-curricular activities were taking place at the school.
Anna McGillis, who is one of those concerned parents, told The Review she wasn't sure if her daughter would be playing soccer at school this term or not.
"We're not really sure what's going on at this point," McGillis noted. "We know football is on, but soccer tryouts usually take place by now and so far, there haven't been any."
The confusion and uncertainty is the result of a request made by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF), which asked members across the province to cancel extra-curricular activities on Wednesday, September 12 and wear black in a one-day protest.
Teachers are protesting a legislated contract put forward by Premier Dalton McGuinty and backed by Conservatives that curbs their right to strike, freezes their overall wages and ends the practice of cashing out sick days on retirement.
The province said these measures were necessary in order to bring down its growing multi-billion-dollar deficit.
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has asked its 76,000 members to take a longer "pause" in extra-curricular activities, but left it up to each member to decide how much to decrease coaching and club activities.
While the protect was only meant to last one day, numerous schools across the province have taken it even further, canceling numerous extra-curricular activities such as sports and clubs.
McGillis said her daughter was "very upset" that soccer might be cancelled.
"This isn't fair to the kids," she remarked. "My friend and I were willing to find a way to coach and make it happen if the school wasn't going to do it. We were planning to use vacation days or whatever so the kids could have their soccer. We're willing to help out any way we can."
The Review called VCI principal Angela Grandy to find out what activities were taking place. Grandy was tight-lipped and referred The Review to the Upper Canada District School Board's (UCDSB) communication director Terry Simzer.
"That's how we're dealing with this," she remarked.
But the UCDSB is remaining tight-lipped about the issue as well.
Simzer said that the ball is in the union's court as to what, if any, extra-curricular activities get cancelled.
"It's their issue so we won't get caught up in all that," he stated. "It's very early on. It's very sporadic. They will decide how long this goes on for."
Simzer noted that the extra-curricular activities are indeed "voluntary."
When pressed for more information, all Grandy would say is that "there are extra-curricular activities taking place at VCI at the moment."
She would clarify which sports and activities were taking place.
During a follow-up interview with The Review on Monday, September 24, McGillis said she did receive confirmation from VCI that boys and girls soccer would be taking place.
"I was told it was a go," she said. "Obviously, the kids are very happy to know soccer is going ahead. We're all happy to hear this."