Many of the students say they're not taking anyone's side in the dispute between unions and the governing Liberals — they just want their extracurricular activities back.
"I think they're both right in different ways," said Eric Synowicki, 13. "The unions should get the teachers to do more, but the government should kind of change the law a little bit."
The Grade 8 student said he can't play hockey anymore or help younger students with their schoolwork through a program run by teachers at his school.
Public high school teachers have withdrawn from voluntary activities like coaching, as well as unpaid administrative duties.
Meanwhile, the Toronto District School Board said that its elementary teachers — who have also withdrawn from volunteer activities — will be staging a one-day walkout next Tuesday.
The board — the largest in the province — said it's awaiting official notification from the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, which is expected to give notice of the strike this weekend. The one-day walkouts are expected to spread across the province by Dec. 20.
They're protesting a new law that allows the governing Liberals to stop strikes, as well as impose a new collective agreement that would freeze wages and cut benefits. But the government claims teachers are putting students in the middle of a dispute over pay.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has said his government won't intervene in the one-day strikes, so long as the union fulfills its promise to provide 72-hours notice to parents.
But the students say their education is suffering while the standoff continues.
"Without extra help after school or before school, students' marks may drop," said Daniel Gignac, 16.
"They may drop significantly and they may start to fail some courses because they don't have this extra help."
Gignac, a Grade 11 student at Toronto's Northern Secondary School, said he goes to weekly sessions with some teachers to bring his grades up.
He said he's also been told that his teachers won't be able to write reference letters when he applies for university.
Apart from their education, extracurricular activities also keep kids off the streets in a safe environment, Gignac said.
Emily Badgley and Marco Lagrotta, both 16, say they won't be able to hold a film festival this year because of the teachers' action.
"Right now, the impact it's having on the students is very negative," said Badgley, a Grade 11 student at Toronto's Etobicoke School of the Arts.
"Just in terms of our mentality, I think there's almost like a darkness on a lot of high school students and elementary students, because school is only fun if you have something to look forward to."
Other students say they're being deprived of their right to an undisrupted academic year and urged the government to find a solution.
"We are upset that we have been a victim of politics," said Kourosh Houshmand, 17, a student trustee at the TDSB.
He said the students want a meeting with Education Minister Laurel Broten, Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation president Ken Coran and Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario president Sam Hammond.Suggest a correction