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

Comox Valley libraries have plenty to offer during Family Literacy Week

Colleen Nelson Special to The Record Do you have a young reader… Continue reading

Strong winds up to 100 km/h for parts of Vancouver Island

Wind warning in effect for north, east and west Vancouver Island into Saturday morning

Comox Legion celebrates Robbie Burns day

The Comox Valley Pipe Band Society is celebrating Robbie Burns on Jan.… Continue reading

VIDEO: École Puntledge Park Elementary celebrates winter solstice

The event was a part of the school’s Indigenous education curriculum

Valley company reaching out to women near and far

Three Comox Valley business women know firsthand what good menstrual products can… Continue reading

Self serve doggy-wash poised to change dog grooming industry

Add money, start spraying to wash dog in the K9000

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Comox Valley libraries have plenty to offer during Family Literacy Week

Colleen Nelson Special to The Record Do you have a young reader… Continue reading

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

Burnaby byelection turmoil sparks debate about identity issues in politics

The Liberals still have not said whether they plan to replace Wang, who stepped aside Wednesday

B.C. woman planned to donate a kidney to her husband, then found out she has cancer

Richard Stuart needs a kidney, his wife Tracy has been diagnosed with cancer

Most Read