PAC lukewarm on police officer in schools 

The Whistler Secondary Parent Advisory Council says it is keen to back anti-bullying and social awareness programs within local schools but has reservations over some potential projects.

At the Feb. 26 regular meeting of the PAC, some parents voiced concern over a proposed plan to install a full-time police liaison officer to work within the Whistler secondary and Myrtle Philip elementary schools. Alex Kleinman, the Whistler representative for the District Parent Advisory Council, says uniformed police have to carry guns and he doesn’t want to see weapons present in local schools.

"I am completely opposed to the idea unless there are no guns and there is a good argument for having an RCMP officer within a teaching program," Kleinman said. Other parents cast doubt on the need for officer within the schools.

"How much will this cost and who would pay for it?" asked PAC member Jane Reid.

Whistler secondary principal Rick Smith says the proposal is a joint effort by the RCMP, Howe Sound School Board and the municipality, but is still in its early stages. He urges all parents to forward their comments to the PAC to ensure their say in a "healthy discussion" over the issue.

Patti O’Reilly heads the PAC safe schools sub-committee and recently took a group of local students to a Youth Taking Action anti-violence conference in New Westminster. She says one of the speakers at the event was a female police school liaison officer who works with over 2,000 students at one of the Vancouver schools. O’Reilly says local students saw this as being one of the key areas where they differ from the larger provincial institutions.

"The kids tended to view smaller schools as being safer and not needing a police officer," she says. "Then again, some of the kids at the bigger schools thought the police shouldn’t be there because their presence made them look like bad kids."

However O’Reilly says there were plenty of workshops that Whistler students felt were more relevant, such as the one on how rumours are started. Smaller schools were also seen to be more cliquey and difficult if you didn’t fit in, she added.

"The kids were pretty excited about what they learned and are planning to share that information by putting on talks or workshops, starting with the elementary school."

Teacher and head of the safe schools committee, Gail Rybar, says work is also underway with student members on revising Whistler secondary’s student code. She says the biggest changes are to do with harassment policy procedures and reporting of incidents that may occur.

 

Whistler kids raised a record $2,300 in the annual World Vision 30 Hour Fundraiser appeal last weekend. Organizer Gail Rybar says the 24 students involved stayed at Whistler Secondary for the duration of the fast, from Friday morning until late Saturday afternoon. She says the group raised more money than expected, especially due to the efforts of one young man who rallied a lot of sponsors.

"The fund-raiser gives students a wider perspective on world issues and the ways that they can make a difference."

It was great to see such a strong turnout from a small school, she adds.

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