Hats off to educators at David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) for teaching our children to ask questions and stand up for what they believe in. 

The latest example is Grade 12 student Hannah Bentley who has taken on the monumental task of trying to change the school’s timetable to enhance learning. While 200 signatures on the petition is quite impressive, it likely won’t convince the powers that be to bring in a new schedule. Besides, the timetable has already been set in stone for the year. 

But you have to give Bentley full credit for trying; not many secondary students would stand up to their school’s administration. Questioning authority is a good thing when you truly believe it is justified. 

Kudos also go out to the high school’s Climate Club, namely Seth Rievaj and Aivian Harder who addressed the RDEK board last week to advocate for better public transit. 

In yesteryear, it was rare for students to address local government for change. Most people can remember a time when the only question they asked in school was if they could go to the bathroom. In those days, you sat up straight and only talked when spoken to by the teacher. You weren’t taught how to be resilient or to question everything, you were taught the 3Rs and to respect your elders, and that was it. Straying from the rules brought you a twisted earlobe or a rap on the knuckles; spare the rod, spoil the child.

Thankfully, we have moved on from those seemingly medieval times to embrace an education system that rewards risk taking and inquisitiveness that many of our great leaders have shown. 

If we don’t question authority, we run the risk of inviting tyranny and oppressiveness that erode democracy. We need to teach our youth that civil or principled disobedience is warranted when there is a strong belief that change is necessary. Student protests can be healthy depending on the cause, such as gun violence and human rights. In Canada, students have been protesting big banks for supporting fossil fuel companies that ignore climate change. 

Remember the Greensboro Four? A small group of black college students sat at a “whites-only” lunch counter in North Carolina in 1960 to protest segregation. This led to a big win for the civil rights movement as the discrimination policy ended.

No one has to be reminded of the atrocity that was China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 when the government responded with tanks and tear gas to disperse students protesting for more rights and freedoms.

The youth of today are tomorrow’s leaders, and while some are not setting good examples, many are looking into the future to make it a better place for all of us. They need our continued support in and out of the classroom.                                

Lyonel Doherty, editor