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(Posted 9:30 a.m., Nov. 3)
Students rally to the support of embattled civics teacher
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

If embattled St. Peter High School civics teacher Scott Searle was worried about his stature in the eyes of his students, he needn't be as dozens of students both past and present have rallied to his support in the wake of the recent controversy surrounding a planned trip to Ohio.

Some 52 students had registered to go on the trip which would expose them to U.S. politics in the battleground state. Among other things, they were going to actively participate in the get-out-the-vote effort for the Barack Obama campaign.

Apparently that aspect of the trip didn't sit very well with a handful of parents who voiced their concerns to several anti-abortion groups including the Campaign Life Coalition, as well as Parents As First Educators (PAFE) whose mission is to monitor Catholic school boards to ensure that they promote the teachings of the Catholic Church.

In their eyes, Obama is a pro-abortion president and therefore anti-Catholic. In a press release dated Nov. 2, PAFE states their position.

PAFE does appreciate the lengths that the teacher was willing to go to give students a really memorable and “interactive” civics lesson. But his good intentions in that regard don’t outweigh in our opinion the harm that could come to the students by making them complicit in support of, as a parent put it, “the most pro-abortion president” the country has ever seen. PAFE says “good for the parents for speaking out!”

Just how many parents contacted PAFE is not known. What is known is that none of the parents voiced their concerns to either Searle or St. Peter principal Norma MacDonald. Despite the fact that they hadn't received any complaints from anyone at St. Peter, they decided to cancel the trip rather than risk further controversy.

News of the controversy and the decision to cancel the trip spread like wildfire through the students at both schools who immediately took to Twitter under the hash tag #teamsearle.

"These 'Devote Catholics' are judging and making assumptions about a person they know nothing about!", tweeted one user.

“We have a right to go on this trip! It’s unfortunate that some people don’t see that we were just trying to help. SPK for #teamsearle!” wrote another.

Searle began planning the trip in September and every student that signed up to go received permission from their parents. Many of the students are understandably upset that the trip was cancelled.

“I feel bad for everyone’s trip that’s been ruined... if u don’t support it, don’t send your kids.” wrote @_johannnaa.

For now the students will have to observe the US election from afar through the filter of American and Canadian news outlets.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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