Students and staff at Alberni District Secondary School celebrated the official opening of the school’s first rainbow crosswalk on Friday, June 14—Pride Day at the high school.
“Today as Pride Day it’s about recognizing everybody’s rights, and hopefully this symbol isn’t just a symbol of the people that came out today but a symbol of inclusion for everybody,” ADSS vice-principal Carl Poole told the students and staff gathered near the crosswalk, which connects the upper and lower school parking lots near the entrance to the ADSS Theatre.
Poole is the School District 70 representative for the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Island Network representative. He works directly with schools with their SOGI capacity. “That immersed me in a lot of the SOGI and LGBTQ rights. A big part of it is about supporting every student and making them feel safe in our school. Historically, the LGBTQ community hasn’t felt safe in schools.
“We’ve made a big initiative to try and get a lot of symbols, some subtle, some not as subtle, such as this sidewalk, which allows kids to walk in our school and feel they’re being recognized, and feel that they’re safe.”
This particular area was chosen for the rainbow crosswalk because it is a main access point for students and staff as they come in as well as any community event that uses the theatre.
“It’s probably one of most highly visible crosswalks on our property.”
Pam Craig and Rosemarie Buchanan, SD70 trustees, were also on hand for the official unveiling. “This is a long time coming,” Craig said.
“We are so proud to have this beautiful sidewalk. We support you.”
Anne Ostwald is the school lead for SOGI at ADSS and also teacher for the Social Justice programs. She and her students were on hand earlier in the week as crews painted the sidewalk. Ostwald, dressed in a brightly coloured tutu as part of her Pride Day outfit, was the first person to officially cross the crosswalk. She then led small groups in symbolic crossings of the rainbow.
“I think it’s really cool,” Grade 12 student Emma Audet said. “It shows so much equality in the school that isn’t shown off a lot that I think we really need. It will give people a better understanding of the LGBTQ community in our school.”