Mass walkout after principal's truancy warning

Fraser High School students stage a mass walk out over their principal's controversial speech on...
Fraser High School students stage a mass walk out over their principal's controversial speech on wagging. Photo: NZME
More than 100 Fraser High School Students have stormed out of class in protest of their principal's comments about truancy at school.

Graffiti reading "f*** you Mrs Crawford" had also sprung up since the speech by principal Virginia Crawford last week.

Students can be seen coming out of the Hamilton school and gathering near the gate. A couple of outraged parents also joined the students.

Last Thursday Crawford gave a speech saying students who wagged were "highly likely to go to prison, either commit domestic violence or be a victim of domestic violence, be illiterate, be a rape victim, be a suicide victim, be unemployed for the majority of their life, have a major health problem, die at an early age, have an addiction, gambling, drugs or smoking".

The speech was secretly recorded by a student and uploaded to YouTube where it quickly went viral.

There has also been reports of unrest, with graffiti and vandalising of school property.

Student Cody Barron, 16, said her speech had since divided the school, with people either supporting her and upset at what she said.

"It's definitely divided the school. Everyone's split apart. Some people are setting off fire alarms, costing the school like $3500."

He said it had only happened once - on Friday - but he expected it to happen again.

"There's also been a lot of tagging. Targeting Ms Crawford."

The graffiti read "f*** you Mrs Crawford," he said.

He wanted Crawford to apologise.

"We want an apology to the community and everyone else she's offended really."

Parents Jo Scott and Justine Kettle were unimpressed with Crawford's comments.

Scott, who has a son in Year 11 at the school, said she was proud of the kids taking a stand for what they believed in.

"I think good on the kids for standing up to her."

She no longer supported the principal, she said.

"Do I support the principal? Nah. I might have last week but not anymore. How can you support someone who's just called all our kids losers?"

Scott wanted to see Crawford apologise for what she said, a sentiment shared by other students who were protesting this morning.

However, while many disagreed with her sentiments, some senior students have backed Crawford stating her message has been misunderstood by students.

Older students at the school gates said she used "shock-tactic" language to get her message across.

Year 13 Carlos Tuimavave was frustrated by the protest, stating a lot of the students were younger and just looking to get attention.

He believed students had misinterpreted Crawford's speech and said she had to use emotive language to get her message across.

"I support Ms Crawford.., most of these kids here are juniors.

"What they didnt understand about Mrs (Crawford's) speech was the message she was sending.

"She could have used better context within her speech with the use of consequences and stuff ... but if she said something like, 'you wag and you're gonna get a detention', no one would care. No one would listen."

"Obviously she got her point across if this is the outcome. Obviously her point got across to every student here.

"I feel like she had to go to the extreme to be able to get our attention for us to listen."

He said she wasn't targeting her message at any specific student or groups of students, "if you make bad decisions now imagine the outcome of your decisions that you make later in life".

When asked why kids were wagging, he said some teachers weren't able to adapt to all of the different needs of the students.

"So maybe they aren't enjoying the class as much as they could. They might be wagging because they're not receiving the support that they wish to receive."

He said the students should "just be grateful that we have a principal who cares about us enough to worry about our futures."

"She wouldn't have said that if she didn't care about us."

Students and parents on social media last week condemned the speech as demotivating and stereotyping.

"Any student that walks out the gate to truant is already the statistic of the worse kind," Crawford said during the speech given at school assembly.

Crawford told the students truants wouldn't survive outside of Hamilton and pretended they were "a big person" in Nawton, Dinsdale or Western Heights.

"When I drive out of school during class time for meetings, and I see groups of students sitting outside the dairy, fish and chip shop, bus stop, some of the things I am thinking is that is another group of students without a future.

"That is another student who will end up as a statistic, that's another loser, that's another wannabe. Another student desperate for friendship, another we've lost."

She urged students to put in the effort at school to make a better life for themselves.

"You and I know the only way to fix this is to do the mahi now, to do the work now. School is not easy, but it is a lot easier than having no hope and being cast aside without any worthwhile future."


What a bunch of snowflakes !
Full of themselves and entitlement!
Fraser High has a roll of about 1400 kids and about 100 choose to make a seen.
Hardly a mass walkout.

Shame on you parents and children, and this is one of the reasons why we have adults like we do and some people are in prison like it or not I go back to not being able to smack children. They no longer that everything has a reaction. I suspect these children and parents are of the same cloth that don't support police and authority. Wake up support the teachers and principal. - she is trying to do her best to coach your children. What type of work ethics will these children have? oh thats right they might just end up in prison - get a life parents