If you’ve never been in a school at night, you really need to experience it. Go very late when it’s totally dark and just walk the halls. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, you can’t help but feel the essence of something there.
It’s the laughter of children, the tears of frustration when they don’t understand, the community of friends that learned and played together, the friendships of growing up with neighbours, the respect that “this was Mrs. so and so’s room, the feelings of accomplishment when someone finally gets it, the skinned knees in the gym, the enhancements that a fund raising community brought to the school, and so much more.
Each generation of teaching staff and students brought a culture shift in the school, along with the pride of being a graduate of XYZ School.
And yet, a vote by a small group of people in a place removed from the school building can end it all in moments.
Based on geography or population shifts or aging, all of this goes away. Recently, my wife and I had an opportunity to return to our home town. My old elementary school is still a thriving educational location; her’s is now closed. Students who would normally go to that school are now bused instead to a different community to learn with different friends.
All of the trophies and academic awards are now rendered irrelevant. Who wants to be known as the top student of a school that’s not even there?
I get the reasons. I really do. I think we’ve all had the experience of fixing and refixing a car until it’s just time to get a new one.
But it really struck me listening to her sharing her experiences from memory as we drove by her old school. There was her Grade 2 room, the swings were over there, the boys would go here at recess and the girls would go there, there was the place that so and so got into trouble, …
Kids are resiliant. They’ll get up the half an hour earlier to make the ride to another town. After a couple of weeks in the new setting, they won’t even notice that they’re now in a portable classroom. They might even enjoy the fact that the bigger population offers more specialized programs and opportunities for them.
The learning and growing up that went before them fades quickly.
Until a former graduate drives by.