The current message on the sign outside Princess Margaret Secondary in Surrey. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Fat joke on B.C. school’s sign not appropriate, woman says

Surrey mother says weight issues are no laughing matter

As she travelled to work Thursday morning, Becky Finley said she did a double-take as she drove by the sign outside Princess Margaret Secondary in Surrey.

She was upset enough by the posted words to turn around, stop and take a photo of the sign and email it to the Surrey Now-Leader via the “submit a news tip” button on the newspaper’s website, along with a message voicing her displeasure.

The sign reads, “Finally my winter fat is gone! Now I have spring rolls.”

Finley says the message is unacceptable, especially for a sign in front of a school.

“In today’s day and age, with the numbers of women, particularly, struggling with body-image issues resulting in low self-esteem and medical problems like anorexia, where would the average girl’s mind go when arriving at school with a message like this at the door?” she wrote.

Messages on the sign, on 72nd Avenue, are changed every 10 days with the help of students in the school’s BASES program, or Building Academic Social and Employment Skills.

• READ MORE: Creative quotes posted on Surrey school sign turn heads with humour, from December 2017.

Students in the class come up with ideas for the messages, which are then brought to the school principal, Paulo Sarmento, for his final approval.

When told of the school’s sign-message program, Finley said the principal shouldn’t have approved the current one.

“The signs are usually interesting, they’re amusing, they’re funny. I look for them sometimes, and I never saw anything that wasn’t appropriate, until now,” Finley told the Now-Leader in a phone interview.

“I think the students are doing a good job in creating the signs,” she said, “but it’s the principal who vetted this and allowed this to pass. The students may not be aware of these issues, with weight and body image, unless they’re going through it themselves.”

Finley said she intends to call the school, or the school board, in an effort to have the current message removed.

Finley said her daughter is a former student at Princess Margaret.

“I sent it (the photo of the sign) to her and another former student, who are both now in their 30s, to ask them what kind of backlash they would have felt showing up at school with this sign present on the front lawn of the school,” Finley said in her email. “Both were mortified. Note that these two young women are both on the round side in body figure.”

A school sign is the wrong place for such a message, Finley said.

“At a school where you have a large population of young people susceptible to body image, especially girls, it’s not appropriate. It’s an inflammatory message for a school,” she added.

Some time ago, administrators of the school decided to go with humorous, timely and sometimes seasonal messages on the sign, rather than the typical Report Card Day and Band Concert reminders, and got the BASES students involved.

The result has been some creative quotes, such as “I told a chemistry joke. There was no reaction” and “What if the algebra teachers are really pirates and are using us to find X.”

Sarmento was not at the school on Thursday, and therefore not available for comment.

The goal, Sarmento told the Now-Leader in December, is “to make people smile as they drive by our school.… I have people calling the school now commenting on our school sign.

“It’s taken off,” the principal added. “I’ve got people calling me saying, ‘Hey, what’s with your signs? They’re good.’ And the kids love it when they hear this stuff, right? They’re proud.”

Just Posted

Association requests retention of surplus funds

Plan to increase hours of caseworkers

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Thrift Shop celebrated during SOS 50th year

A celebration week will take place from Sept. 24-29 at the Thrift Shop

Open burn ban lifted for Coastal Fire Centre

Prohibitions will be lifted at noon on Sept. 19

RDN to increase water services fees

The Regional District of Nanaimo is amending its water services charges to… Continue reading

64 cats seized from ‘bad situation’ now in BC SPCA care

The surrender is part of an ongoing animal cruelty investigation with BC SPCA Special Constable

Recent jump in U.S. butter imports? All smooth, says Canadian dairy farmers

U.S. farmers recently enjoyed extra access to the Canadian market

Potential replacements for Phoenix pay system to start testing soon: Brison

Testing of prototypes to replace troubled federal pay system will begin within weeks

Nanaimo’s Tilray Inc. briefly the world’s largest cannabis company

The company, only listed in the US, nearly reached $300 in afternoon trading on Wednesday

Woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart released from prison

Smart was 14 years old when she was snatched from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 by street preacher Brian David Mitchell

New York books editor out after backlash over Jian Ghomeshi essay

Ian Buruma, who was appointed as editor of the New York Review of Books in late 2017, no longer works for the publication

B.C. couple plans sustainable, zero-waste life in the Shuswap

Plan includes building a tiny house before the snow flies

Housing slowdown forecast to cool B.C. economy

Conference Board says pipeline, trade uncertainty affecting investment

B.C. hockey product eyes shot at Olympic spot with China

Fletcher is one of 24 who travelled to Shenzhen, China for the first official Olympic dev camp.

Most Read