Fredericton school reverses decision, allows dead student's picture in yearbook

The administration of Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton has backed down from its position against allowing the yearbook to remember a student who died in a bicycle accident.

Benjamin Dodding, killed in 2015 in a cycling accident, will be remembered in the Leo Hayes yearbook

Brad Sturgeon, the principal of Leo Hayes High School, confirmed on Tuesday that Benjamin Dodding, who was killed in a bicycle accident in 2015, would have a photo in the school's upcoming yearbook. (CBC)

The administration of Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton has backed down from its position against allowing the yearbook to remember a student who died in a bicycle accident.

Brad Sturgeon, the principal of Leo Hayes, confirmed Tuesday that a memorial photo will be featured in the 2017-2018 yearbook but did not comment further.

Students had circulated an online petition to get the school to allow a photo of Benjamin Dodding, who was struck and killed by a car in 2015, in the yearbook. ​Students have pushed for the memorial because this would have been his graduating class.

In initially blocking the move, the administration said some students might feel "traumatized" by the image.

​Allison Pelkey, a friend of Dodding's who started the online petition last week, said two vice-principals gave her the news during her psychology class on Monday afternoon that the memorial could go ahead. 

The teen has not yet spoken to the principal.

"I knew they'd come around to saying yes, because Ben was loved by so many at the school," she said over Facebook messenger.

A petition set up on Change.org, has attracted over 3,500 signatures. (Change.org)

The teen applauded staff at the school for their support.

"I love Leo Hayes and I love the principal," she said. "He's not a bad person, and the school isn't either.

"There was just so much confusion with this whole thing."

Last week Sturgeon said the school had moved away from permanent memorials, either at the school or associated with it, to protect students from having to relive a loss.

The petition had received close to 3,500 signatures as of Tuesday morning.

"This was all for Ben," said Pelkey.

A student has started a petition to get a photo of Benjamin Dodding, who died in 2015, into the yearbook. Principal explains why he didn't allow this. 0:43

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.