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A British Columbia principal went the extra mile to keep cell phones from disturbing classrooms at Port Hardy Secondary School. Acting upon the suggestion of a parent, he ordered a jammer online from China.
"On the first day, we thought the TELUS tower was down," Grade 12 student Destiny Herman was quoted as saying in a March 31 Globe and Mail story. "On the second day, we suspected the jammer. On the third day, we had the protest."
Herman and some other teens arranged a walkout after lunch to protest the jammer. They pointed out that the box with four antennae in the school library is actually illegal in Canada. It is banned by Sections 4 and 9 of Canada's Radiocommunication Act. About 90 of the school's 343 students skipped class.
Principal Steve Gray said he was unaware the device was illegal. The day after the protest, it was unplugged. The device, for which the school board anted up $115 U.S. plus $50 for shipping, will remain in the school in case the rules change, Gray said.
About four years ago, the school had a problem with students using iPods and other MP3 players in class. So, in September of 2007, it banned students from having any electronic devices in the classrooms. But, it found that students did not want to give up their phones.
"When there are cell phones in use, there is a constant background of 'Please put your cell phone away. Please give me your cell phone,'" Gray said in a March 31 CBC News website story.
He told the Globe and Mail that about 80 per cent of students have cell phones. About two or three are taken away daily by teachers. Gray said it takes away from time that should be spent on education.
However, students argue that they need their phones to receive messages, especially in the event of an emergency. Gray said the school's office relays all messages and that, in emergencies, it will interrupt classes. But Herman said there is a gap between the call being received and the message being passed on to the student.
Two years ago Toronto banned cell phones in the classroom in 560 public schools, according to the CBC story. School trustee Josh Matlow, who led the push for the ban, noted that in New York City students are not permitted to have cell phones on school property. However, he said that means they cannot contact their parents going to or from school either.
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