OTTAWA - Last week, students at Ottawa Township High School protested their school board's decision to cut the building trades program and fire the instructor. The school responded by suspending 130 students for disrupting class. Others were banned from the senior prom.
That's when Mike Rowe of the "Dirty Jobs" tv series heard about the Ottawa students. While he rarely gets involved in supporting any type of protests, this one was different.
“I can’t speak to their motives. I have no idea if they care more about the teacher, or more about the demise of vocational education. Maybe they’re just bored high-schoolers looking to snap the monotony of a long winter,” he wrote on his website.
“But either way, if I could be there with them, I would. Because I like what’s happening. I like that these kids are willing to suffer the consequences of speaking their minds. I like that the local trade unions are supporting them. I like that the press is covering it. But mostly, I like that somebody is standing up for the skilled trades. Finally. In a place where it really matters.”
Then Rowe put together this video:
Rowe's voice shares the narration:
At one time, I made things, and I took pride in the things I made. And my band saw buzzed, and my table saw sang. And I opened my doors to all, and together we built chairs, and sconces, and birdhouses, and, well, whatever that thing is.
But then one day, they pulled the plug and the building trades were gone.
But I am still here. And I’ll be damned if I’ll stand by and watch them take it all away. They can suspend me, they can banish me from the prom — I really don’t give a crap. Because some things are more important than dancing.
It’s time to get back to what Ottawa does best, because wood is a beautiful thing.
The school released a statement:
"Ottawa Township High School will take appropriate disciplinary action against any student who willfully refuses to follow the directives of school officials or who is otherwise disruptive to the educational process of the school. In those circumstances, disciplinary action is necessary and warranted in order to protect the safety, welfare, and learning environment for all Ottawa Township High School students. While the District respects the rights of its students to express their opinions and encourages their participation in affairs regarding the governance of the district, the manner in which many students chose to voice their concerns on March 18, 2014, in the school building and during school hours was disruptive to the mission of the school and simply will not be tolerated."