Hammarskjold Community Comes Together

A capacity crowd at the Hammarskjold Parent's Council meeting
A capacity crowd at the Hammarskjold Parent's Council meeting

THUNDER BAY – The word frustrating is one that parents, teachers and students are feeling at Hammarskjold High School. At a full house public meeting with just under 300 people held Tuesday night, the community came together to ask questions.

The goal of the meeting stated by parents council chair Cheri Lappage was for a positive evening and for parents and students to gather information and share their views.

Tonight’s meeting was an opportunity for parents, students and supporters to come together and share. There was a sense of coming together at the meeting.

For parents and students this was the first public opportunity to do that. A meeting scheduled last week was cancelled. However Cheri Lappage says she was assured by the Board of Education that they are planning to host that meeting.

One Hammarskjold student explained to the audience that during the first lockdown, there was almost no information. “Even when I go to school it is terrible because we know we are not going to get to stay at school”.

Lappage says that the work of the Thunder Bay Police Service and the Hammarskjold Principal, Vice Principal and staff has been amazing.

However, a large number of parents expressed that the communication from the Lakehead Board has been less than they would have expected. The parent’s council has been asking hard questions of police and of the Lakehead Board of Education.

“If you are going to put your head in the sand, then expect that a huge number of parents who may transfer their students to the other school board”, one parent stated.

Another stated, “This is the wake-up call for Thunder Bay. This could happen to any school or to any public place”.

There was a presentation from the Thunder Bay Counselling Centre on how to deal with the impact of the ongoing threats.

Increasingly what parents are saying is that their children just want to get back to school.

Support is growing as the word of the ongoing threats continue.

“Anxiety will not hurt you”, stated the speaker from TBC. “Social media is not the best resource for answers”.

The goal according to the councillor is to maintain as normal a schedule as possible.

A message from Hammarskjold Principal was read out.

In that message, parents were told, “None of the threats have come directly to the school. They have come to police.”

The Principal stated that “Nothing has been found on any buses, or in the school.”

“Hammarskjold has been given an extension to ensure that students applying for post-secondary education that there will be accommodations. They are trying to reach out for students planning to attend universities and colleges outside of Ontario.”

“Hammarskjold is currently closed for after school outside activities.”

There was a diverse range of opinions expressed.

One of the solutions was to bring in the military. “The military could be well put to use”, stated one parent.

A grandparent asked “Why hasn’t the RCMP been brought in.”

“If something is a threat, why hasn’t this step been taken?”

Cheri Lappage stated that in terms of this issue she is being told that the school board is learning as they are going.

“There have been so many threats that every day is a threat”. – stated a parent.

There are only two entrances opened to the school. The Board has been working to make the facility a controlled facility.

An overriding concern raised by parents is that they are not getting the degree of communications from the Board of Education.

Several students expressed their concerns over the exam schedule,

“No one is helping me. Everyone is worried. We need help”.

The meeting saw Councillors Brian Mckinnon and Brian Hamilton attend from the City as well as Thunder Bay Superior North MP Patty Hajdu.

Hamm.council@gmail.com is the email address for the Hammarskjold Parents Council.