Student petition calls for revisit of Mount Pearl school changes

A student in Mount Pearl was busy over the weekend, collecting signatures to try and convince the provincial government to revisit its decision to reorganize some of the schools in the community.
Christopher Van Alstyne presented his petition of 265 signatures calling for a reversal of the decision to reorganize schools in Mount Pearl to MHA Paul Lane. (CBC)

A Mount Pearl student was busy over the weekend, collecting signatures to try and convince the provincial government to revisit its decision to reorganize some of the schools in the community.

Grade 4 student Christopher Van Alstyne got together 88 pages — 265 signatures — of parents and neighbours calling on the province and the school board to reconsider the move.

Van Alstyne, a student at Newtown Elementary, said the re-jig would mean he would no longer be at the same school as his younger sister, among other things.
Christopher Van Alstyne says Newtown Elementary will lose a lot of things with the reorganization of the Mount Pearl system. (CBC)

While both are currently at Newtown Elementary, the reorganization for the next school year would see his sister attending St. Peter's Primary. By the time she would get back to Newtown, her brother would be attending St. Peter's Junior High.

"They shouldn't change them because they will be taking away stuff, like walking your brother or sister down to the school. They will be cutting up the Newtown Library and taking out a quarter of the gym and then losing a bit of the music room."

He said he's hoping the petition will get the attention of Education Minister Darin King and convince him to at least take another look at some other options.

"You think you want to keep the schools like they are because of your sister or brother and you keep trying, but if they don't change it, all you can say is, 'Well, I tried. I tried my best,'" said Van Alstyne.

'It's really about the children'

Van Alstyne presented his petition to Mount Pearl South MHA Paul Lane, to get it presented to King in the House of Assembly.
Mount Pearl South MHA Paul Lane says government has lost sight about who the school organization is really about: the students. (CBC)

According to Lane, the reorganization is a hot-topic issue for people in his district and he's happy to get some feedback from those directly affected: the students.

"I think it's absolutely wonderful, and really, Christopher and his classmates, that's really what this is all about, and I think sometimes we get caught up in the day to day issues, get caught up in the politics of the situation," said Lane.

"I think one of the things that gets lost is that you start thinking about buildings, you start thinking about numbers, and you forget what this is really all about and it's really about the children — it's about the students. I think this is a reminder to us all that this is really where the focus needs to be for the students, and I think it's absolutely wonderful, I'm very proud of him."

Lane said he's been getting a consistent wave of feedback from the district, calling for government to cancel the reorganization, scheduled for the fall.

"I've been getting emails, I've gotten phone calls and so on, and the message I got from a meeting [last week] and I continue to get is that families, students, teachers and so on want me to continue on with this fight on their behalf. That's what I was elected to do, that's what I intend to do."


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