GRIEVING pupils have set up a petition to wear gold ties to school in memory of their classmate Jak Trueman – after being told by the school they would have to stop.
The brave 15-year-old from Mid Calder died last Monday from a rare and aggressive form of blood cancer known as Gammadelta T-cell lymphoma, after being diagnosed in August.
The petition – which has attracted more than 500 signatures – came as Jak’s mum Allison Barr, 44, and grandfather Walter Barr, 75, laid out plans for the Team Jak charity set up in his memory.
Classmates at West Calder High School swapped their school ties for gold ones last week in homage to the gold-themed prom, which was held in Jak’s honour two days before he died.
The teenagers were told initially they would have to swap back to their normal uniform by Tuesday – just a week after Jak was laid to rest.
Parents said asking the youngsters to give up the gold ties was “insensitive”, and an online petition to allow the current S4 year group to wear their ties until they leave school attracted 588 signatures in just 48 hours.
Alan Porter, chairman of Mid Calder Community Council whose daughter was in the same year as Jak at the school, said: “I think the decision by the school is insensitive and really needs to be looked at again for the benefit of everyone.
“The kids have had a difficult time recently and the way they have dealt with it so far has been incredible.
“This is their way of dealing with their grief at the loss of a good friend to them all and the community council supports them in this.”
Since receiving the petition, headteacher Fiona Rowland has agreed to consider the request and meet S4 pupil representatives next week.
A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: “West Calder High School is in mourning over the very sad loss of Jak Trueman, who was a much loved and respected friend and pupil.
“No decision will be made in a rush and no pupil will be sent home from school for wearing a gold tie.”
Yesterday Allison outlined plans Jak made before he died for a purpose-built building, known as Jak’s Den, to help children and teenagers in West Lothian. The centre – which they hope will be located in Mid Calder and completed in 2017 – will include counselling rooms, a football-themed cafe for cancer sufferers, a quad bike track and a musical sensory garden.
Allison said: “Over the last six months Jak talked a lot about his hopes and dreams for the future.
“When we realised he didn’t have long, I sat down with him to ask him about Team Jak as we wanted this to be what he wanted.
“We want this to be somewhere where young people can just come and feel safe.”
The family has been overwhelmed by the support in their home village of Mid Calder and further afield, with a fundraising page in Jak’s name raising more than £50,000 for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.
Anyone who would like to help Team Jak should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.