Joanne Rutherford was a student who attended Degrassi High School. She wasn't mentioned or seen around the school very much until the 1990-1991 school year. Her mother was a nurse who specialized in treating and care for patients withs HIV and AIDS. She was a kind, caring and sensitive person and was close friends with Claude Tanner, being one of the students who was most affected by his suicide. She was portrayed by Krista Houston.
Original Degrassi: Season 5
Joanne and Claude had been friends for a long time but it was never mentioned or revealed what grade she was really in she was either in the same grade as he was or very close to it.in the episode Bad Blood (1), Joanne was seen to be attending Mrs. Perry's special education class for either learning disability or a reading disability. That morning on the first day of the school year she witnessed the school bully Dwayne Myers and his lackey friends Nick and Tabi being mean to Joey Jeremiah as they tripped him making him fall right down to the floor as he was on his way to find himself a seat. Joanne didn't say or do anything when this happened because either she didn't want to get involved in the situation or because she was a little scared of them. Then Dwayne tried to bully her to give him her seat. Later that day her teacher Mrs. Perry told her class that since it was sexual awareness that soon some live speakers would be coming to speak to their class. She was disgusted by all the rude and offensive jokes her classmate were making about people with AIDS. She then answered a question when Trish Skye asked if anyone in the class knew anyone who had it. She told them that a friend of her mother's had it and that he had caught it by mistake from an infected needle. She was later one of the many students cheering on Joey in the cafeteria she had bet money to see if Joey would go through with his dare of walking through the cafeteria naked.
Next in the episode Bad Blood (2), that morning at school she and Luke Matthews were seen walking and talking through the halls together about the AIDS speakers that were going to come to there class to speak to them and answer question about the AIDS and HIV virus and AIDS and HIV awareness.
In the episode Showtime (1), she was helping Bronco and Lucy set up and organize the school years talent show and she was the one writing down and keep tracking of who signed up and who auditoned. She had so many people sign up that she told Caitlin and Maya that they might not been able to have their auditons until the next day. Then after Claude auditoned with a very depressing and very creepy monologue which of course had been rejected he stormed off thinking nobody cared about him. She ran after him and told him how much she cared about him and that she and there group of friends never saw him anymore and invited him to go see a movie with them. Then she told him how sorry she was about his parents recent divorce and with concerned she asked him who he would be staying with which seem hard to say because apparently him and his dad didn't get along very well and his mother's new boyfriend just could stand him. He then pushed her away by telling her that he knew she was just trying to help but he needed to be alone. Once again she tried to offer her support to him by being there to talk and listen to him but once again he pushed her away. Then a little upset she walked away after he left completely unaware that soon he would be gone forever. That afternoon she was devastated when Mr. Raditch told her class that Claude was found dead in a boys' washroom. Joanne felt devastated and guilty because she felt that she should have tried harder to help him because she knew something was wrong and that she tried to help him but he wouldn't listen. Then Mr. Raditch told her that you can't help people who don't want to be helped. She then broke down crying and Mrs. Perry and Trish Skye both gave her their comforting support.
In Showtime (2), the next day at school in the school auditorium, she, Lucy and Bronco and all the people chosen for the talent show were discussing and debating whether or not the talent show for the year should be called off or not. Joanne felt it was only right because the school was still in mourning over the loss of a student. Lucy however felt that they though they're still upset with what happened that they still should move on with their lives. She tried to get them to considered how upset his family was over the loss of their son and that going on with the show so soon would be like thinking it never happened. She was then so upset she left. Then after Spike suggested that talent show take up a collection for his family to a charity of his families choice she agreed with the show going on. The night of the talent show she spoke on stage to represent Claude's parents who couldn't be there and mentioned how much they appreciated the contributions that were given to create a program to help support children who feel suicidal, and how even though it was too late too help Claude. How many people tried to help and get him to talk but he just wouldn't. Also how the program is for everyone who has any pressure or any problems that they might need help with . She then begun to get emotional when she said that everyone goes through bad times and that life is too precious to throw away and no one has to kill themself and Claude was her friend and that he really would have enjoyed the talent show that night and it would have made him feel a lot better. She then got so upset she begun to cry again as she finished the speech.
in One Last Dance, Tabi told their class that there was a rumor going around that someone at the school has AIDS she was just disgusted about Nick's offensive and negative attitude when he stated that the guy should be locked up and taken away. She then told them that it might have been a girl and it was no longer just a problem for druggies and homosexuals. She then told them she knew so much because her mother was a nurse who specialized in caring and treating HIV and AIDS patients, Tabi and Nick nervously backed away from her after she told them. Nick then tried jokingly tell her "Sorry I was going to kiss you but I guess you would lose" she then told him that she would actually win and you would have to consume about 6 litres of saliva to catch the virus that way. The next day after it was revealed to the school that Dwayne was the one with AIDS a very nervous Tabi asked her how safe it really was for her to be around him. Joanne was very supportive and helpful with telling her that she could even shake hands with him and sit next time him and unless she had actually slept with him then she shouldn't be worried about anything. The night of the school's last dance, she and Joey were two of the most supportive people to see him come to the dance.
- She was a student in the Special Ed class at Degrassi High School.