Joe Whitbread and Jo Phillips are helping children and parents navigate the world of social media. (Photo contributed)

Joe Whitbread and Jo Phillips are helping children and parents navigate the world of social media. (Photo contributed)

Dance cancelled after Alberta teacher’s climate lesson prompts online threats

School district near Red Deer cancelled annual family dance due to Facebook comments

The oil and gas sector were at the heart of a debate that led to the cancellation of a central Alberta school’s family dance.

Jayson Lovell, the superintendent for the Wolf Creek Public Schools district, said it started last week out with comments on a community Facebook page that questioned a lesson taught by a teacher at Iron Ridge Intermediate Campus in Blackfalds, just outside of Red Deer.

A parent believed the teacher was espousing anti-oil and gas values to a Grade 4 social studies class, Lovell said in an interview with Black Press Media, and only presented one side of the story.

The posts began with comments on both sides of the issues, he said, then escalated.

“It went to threats: Go to the school and the dance, which was planned for Thursday evening, and confront the teacher and cause a disturbance.”

As a result, the district cancelled the school’s annual Christmas family dance.

“Please know that this was not an easy decision, as we know the excitement students and families have for this event, and the value it carries in the school,” Lovell wrote in a letter posted online.

“But through events that unfolded throughout the week, the safety of students and staff at the event became uncertain, forcing us to make that ultimate decision.”

The RCMP got involved and issued a ticket under the School Act for disturbing or interrupting the proceedings of a school, Lovell said in the interview.

He went on to add that an administrator had happened to sit in on that lesson, which was about critical thinking on the issue of climate change and the energy sector, and that the teacher covered both sides of the topic, as laid out in the curriculum.

Coincidentally, the district had scheduled a session this week for parents and kids on digital citizenship and online safety.

The host, Joe Whitbread, co-founder of Jo(e) Social Media, said kids are losing out in the wars parents are waging online.

“Our kids are watching their mentors, the adults in their life, use foul language, poor etiquette and be downright unkind on social media,” he said. “It’s a fight, not a debate.”

READ MORE: Youth to sue Canadian government for climate change harms, discrimination

Attendance at the social media sessions is typically poor, he added.

“There are typically 12 to 25 parents, predominantly moms, very few fathers. That’s a very low number in a gymnasium with 300 to 500 kids.”

Lovell said the district is hoping to host the family dance in the new year.

ALSO READ: Federal laws at heart of western anger up for debate as Liberals begin outreach



mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

Jacob Gardner (Fort St. John, B.C.) marking the highest score of the night of 84.5 on Pozobon Bucking Bulls’ 94 Jason’s Dream. This photo originally appeared in the Jan. 14, 2016, issue of the Times.
10 YEARS AGO: Twenty-seven brave souls take the plunge

40 YEARS AGO: Although mining concerns are not known to be among… Continue reading

(Unsplash photo)
“Are you printing the truth yet?”

Right from my first days in the editor’s chair, I have had a handful of locals tell me they know the secrets to solving COVID-19 — but fail to provide support.

File photo
Man tells RCMP he’s being chased, is later arrested

RCMP looking for witnesses of head-on collision Jan. 10

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read