What Happened in High School Matters

Op-Ed by Local 38 President Bob Cocking in response to Naomi Lakritz

On October 3, 2018 at our ATA Local 38 Council of School Representatives Meeting, the article by Naomi Lakritz published by the Calgary Herald on September 28th, 2018 was debated and discussed.

Tremendous efforts have been made across our province and within our schools to create Safe and Caring Schools. It is with that premise that I address our collective concerns.

I suggest that “What Happens in High School Does Matter.” Our schools are safe places for students to access support services and find the resources and strategies they need. It is our hope that all students can advocate for their personal safety freely without fear of victimization and that they do matter. High School can be a challenging time for adolescents, but it is a time that critical decision-making skills influence significant personal development. Students learn that they have choice, are free to express opinions, and are encouraged to be aware of the world around them. Foundational skills that address communication, critical thinking, and exercising good judgement for the future are formed in adolescence.

Personal development, being of good character and contributing to the school community positively with a value of citizenship are characteristics that we hope follow our students once they leave high school. In today’s world one can no longer condone any form of abuse, this is what society is expecting of all of us. One can only hope that our students collective experience in high school is indeed a positive one and that as they venture into a myriad of career paths that they take the knowledge, skills and attitudes that they formed in their adolescence in directions that truly make a difference for them and those they encounter.

It is the desire of the Council of School Representatives that our students, parents, and school community know that their experiences matter, and that any future challenges they may face should not be characterized or defined by a negative or dismissive headline.

---Bob Cocking