By JUAN DODGSON
OTTAWA, ON – In a move that has left students baffled and disappointed, teachers at Lisgar Collegiate Institute chose not to come to school on Friday in honour of Teacher Skip Day. Rather than stand in front of a class and teach a group of highly engaged young people, Lisgar staff went to Britannia Beach to soak up the sun.
This teacher truancy has hit senior students particularly hard. “I just don’t get it,” said Michael Livingston, a Grade 12 student. “I came to Lisgar to learn, and these teachers think they can just go to the beach? That would be like me saying to my friends, ‘Hey, let’s ditch class and go to Rideau.’ But we wouldn’t, that’s the difference.”
Jennifer Wallace, also in Grade 12, expressed a similar opinion. “When students make every effort to get to class on time, every day, and then, like, our teachers just go to the beach? It’s a bit of a slap in the face. I mean, considering all the work we do for them, this is what we get? Seems pretty thankless to me.”
Some students were apparently made aware of the teachers’ decision to skip school the day before the event took place, but they thought it was just a joke. Felix Wang contacted his Grade 12 English teacher Thursday night at 11:39 p.m. to find out what work he had missed, as he was absent from school that day due to a “man flu”. To his surprise, his teacher fired back the following email: “I will be at the beach tomorrow. Have a nice weekend!” When asked about the tone of his teacher’s reply, Felix said, “Everyone deserves a break, you know, but he just sounded so entitled, like he could just say ‘Sayonara’ to his students and not even be there to help us get the marks we want.”
Lindsey Bicksley knew something was up when she was standing in line at the local Starbucks and saw her AP Calculus teacher walk by outside. “When I saw him, I thought, ‘Well that’s weird,’ so I went outside with my venti latte macchiato and said, ‘Hey Mr. So-and-so, where are you going?’ and he said, ‘To the beach! Holla!’ I said, ‘What about class?’ and he’s, like, ‘Whatevs, yo!’” When asked why she wasn’t at school at the time she saw her teacher, Lindsey stated, “I thought there was an assembly.”
This is not the first time teaching staff at Lisgar have organized such an event. Earlier this year, they rallied behind the ‘Don’t-Bother-Me-I’m- On-My-Phone-All-Class Day,’ and before that the ‘I-Could-Come- To-Class-On- Time-But- Why? Day.’ While these ‘days of inaction’ frustrated many students, this latest incident has, for many, crossed a line.
“We can’t just let them get away with this,” said Kyle Pearce, a self-elected spokesman for the Class of Grade 12. “When teachers start behaving like Ferris Bueller, what’s next? I had an assignment due on Friday which I spent very little time completing. Sure I left it until the last minute, and it wasn’t even my work, but at least I made some effort. That’s what I call commitment, which is more than I can say for our teachers.
In an attempt to have his and his fellow seniors’ complaints heard, Pearce went to the Ottawa- Carleton District School Board office at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, only to find the doors locked and a sign posted beside the entrance which read: “Gone fishing!” As Pearce turned to leave, he spotted the Director of Education driving out of the parking lot, wearing a fishing hat and blaring “Don’t Worry Be Happy” at full volume.
When asked for a final comment, Pearce just shook his head dejectedly. “I’m really worried about the message this sends to the younger grades. I’m graduating this year, I think, but I have a little brother in Grade 9. What do I tell him? Do I say, ‘Oh, it’s just teachers having a bit of fun, it’s nothing serious’? I might as well tell him and his buddies to organize a Junior Skip Day. Just go the beach! Who cares! I mean, hell, why not, the way things are going around here.”