One of the stupidest moves over the years with Toronto schools was the removal of school resource officers. It was an example of ignorance winning over common sense. School resource officers (SRO) was a program whereby Toronto police officers were located in some schools to create a presence and a resource to help build a relationship between the police and the community.
They were not there to guard the students. This was a program that could pay its way for many years down the road. The officer was a resource for the teachers, a back-up for the parents, a humanizing of the police for the students. Nobody who understood the program expected miracles. It was reaching for the long-term benefits. It needed to reach around the hollowness of the police are our friends. It was a program of inestimable value for years to come.
But some ignorant parents and busybodies and trouble-makers complained. The Toronto School Board did its usual mealy-mouthed flip-flop. The police services board caved in. The program was stopped.
I mention this because when you really need this type of program, you have nothing to replace it. I am thinking of my high school, the ill-fated York Memorial Collegiate.
I was already at York Memorial when George Harvey School was completed nearby on Keele Street.
From the beginning, there was a sense of rivalry between the two schools. And, quite frankly, I never wanted to play football again, after the trouncing we grade 10 students took when we played against George Harvey’s grade 10 students. So, I switched from football to the choir (Not being able to sing the same note twice did not seem to be of concern.)
I felt sorry for the students though when I heard about the fire a couple years ago. It was a wonderful school and I really enjoyed the years I was there. It was also easy to see the problems involved if York Memorial students found themselves squeezed into George Harvey. Some rivalry is good; crowded cohabitation can be risky.
Copyright 2022 © Peter Lowry
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