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'We really want to be heard': Kingsville students walk out in protest of new school name

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Students past, present, and future flocked outside Kingsville District High School Friday afternoon to protest the name selected for a new public kindergarten to grade 12 school that’s set to open in Kingsville in September.

Walkout organizers said many took issue with how the new name was selected, rather than the actual name itself.

“I felt like all of our hard work was just scrapped,” said grade 12 student Kinsey Kendrick. “I felt disappointment because I was part of the naming committee and I was just disappointed that all of the work we put in was just discarded at the meeting.”

The new school, off Jasperson Lane, south of the Kingsville Arena, will bring together students from Jack Miner Public School, Kingsville and Harrow Public Schools, along with Kingsville District High School.

On Tuesday, the board of trustees voted 6-2 in favour of naming the new school “Erie Migration Academy,” despite that name not being recommended by the naming committee.

Trustee Julia Burgess brought it forward, believing it to be inclusive to all school communities.

Kingsville students walked out on Feb. 23, 2024, in protest of the name selected for a new public kindergarten to grade 12 school that’s set to open in Kingsville in September. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

Kendrick said, “I'm not the biggest fan of it. It definitely wouldn't be my first choice but I think if it was chosen by the committee and then brought to the board, I would be more open to it being our school's name."

“It's more of the process of how it was named than the actual name that's making people upset and I think everyone has a right to be out here,” said Emmerson Jadischke.

“We just feel completely disregarded,” said Brandon Taggart, whose daughter was on the naming committee.

Taggart told CTV News the name selection processes was frustrating considering the names put forward were not considered, noting there’s concern about a lack of transparency and a hidden agenda. “Distrust is what comes to my mind.”

“Disgraceful,” is what Rose Stanley said of how the new name was selected. “Total disgust that this is how our elected officials treat the community.”

“I think it's a terrible name,” Stanley said. “The thing is that we've lost our identity as a community. They were trying to wipe it out.”

The students said the acronym of the new school name, “EMA” is not something they want to be associated with, suggesting there’s concern future students will be bullied as a result.

“Especially at sports games,” Kendrick explained. “We’re aware of what it stands for and I think it's well known among the high schoolers.”

Construction is underway at a new public kindergarten to grade 12 school that’s set to open in Kingsville in September, seen on Feb. 23, 2024. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

Grade 12 student Hayden Nurse said, “A lot of the community is upset, and it's brought us together and it's made us a family really, because we're Kingsville and we're here supporting each other and we really want change.”

Nurse continued, “We really want to be heard and we want our voices to be felt like we matter.”

Trustee Julia Burgess told CTV News on Thursday that the backlash has been intense, “Direct messages, phone calls, texts, any kind of way that possibly they can get a hold of me, my personal house, threats.”

Burgess questioned whether the matter could be revisited, suggesting many residents support the name that was ultimately decided.

“Can you revisit it? Well, when it's adopted so enthusiastically by the board, it meets our goals,” Burgess said. “We met a regulation. It's, I think, a beautiful name. A lot of people do think it's a great name. I can't see a way to reconsider. It would have to be something really awful.”

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