By John Jalsevac

PETERBOROUGH, Ontario, October 20, 2010 ( –“Everything that our school and community does is pro-life,” says Adam Parker, the principal of Wayside Academy, a private Catholic school in Peterborough, Ontario.

For years already the school has participated en masse in the annual March for Life in Ottawa, and school families regularly join a weekly pro-life vigil in front of the local hospital, where abortions are committed.

But this fall the school has added participation in the 40 Days for Life Campaign to its pro-life repertoire – and students, administrators and teachers alike are agreed that this year’s effort is only the beginning of what they hope will be a growing tradition.

Since the beginning of the fall campaign, students at Wayside Academy have been encouraged to fast and pray in union with the global 40 Days effort. Last Friday, October 15, ten students from the high school travelled several hours to Ottawa, where they joined the 40 Days vigil in front of Henry Morgentaler’s infamous Bank St. abortion facility.

High school teacher Peter Baklinski said that at first the kids were hesitant about signing up to go, “because there was talk about what you might see.”

“You might encounter some crazy people who might come and start shouting at you. Things could turn sour. You might see a woman going into the clinic and coming out obviously after having an abortion,” he said. “And a lot of the kids were afraid of seeing these things and there was a lack of enthusiasm to go on the trip because of what they might see.

“They knew what happens at an abortion clinic.”

But according to grade 9 student Rachel Doyle, the first motions of reticence were overcome after she and her classmates discussed the initiative amongst themselves.

“We talked about it as a class and we talked about abortion and I guess once a few people started then everyone got, I guess you could say, inspired. So we all decided to go as a class and we would all pray together and the rest of the day have fun.”

The time spent at the 40 Days site was nevertheless sobering for the students. “I had never been near an actual abortion clinic,” said Doyle. “We would see the couples coming in and out and that was really sad for everybody.”

While at the site the students sang in the chilly mid-October weather, and prayed for the mothers who were getting abortions, and for the babies.

At the end of the day, says Doyle, not only did she feel that she had made a difference, but she learned “that there are people in the world who do believe in wrong things, but we just have to keep on praying for them and hope that God guides them to the right place.”

According to Parker, attending 40 Days for Life was something that flows naturally from the nature of the school. “Our school and our community is a celebration of life in itself,” he said, adding that every day during communal morning prayer, the school prays for the lives of the unborn.

Baklinski agreed, saying that while the school strives to form the kids in view of “the good, the true, and the beautiful,” going out and witnessing at an abortion facility is “where the rubber hits the road and hopefully where the formation pays off.”

“Because the kids understand the value of human life and they see the great good that it is, and they see others who are taking that away from others, to go out there and positively testify to the great good of human life is kind of a result of the education.”

Baklinski said that the school is already looking forward to next year. “I heard the trip was a great success. I think that next year it will be bigger, that there will be more kids that will be there. … I think it is something that will only grow at Wayside.”

For more information about 40 Days for Life, click here.

For more information about Wayside Academy, click here.