Petite School Closure: My take on it

So this post is not about my farm or my animals but it is about something so important to me. It’s about my kids and community. I ask you to take a moment to read my thoughts on it and do what you can to help us with this situation.

Five years ago, we moved across the country from Victoria, BC to Lahave, NS. We came all this way for many reasons; but one of the biggest was so that our children could be part of a small, rural school.  My seven year old daughter attends Petite Elementary school where we are proud to say she has had wonderful support and experiences. Most impressively she gets to play in the extraordinary natural, wooded playground and grow a garden with her entire school. There are a small group of teachers, many dedicated parents and sixty or so lucky children who make this school a very special place. The kind of place worth moving across the country for, the kind of school that makes each child feel included and part of something very special.

If you have ever been to our school, you can feel how special it is when you walk in the door. The smell of warm toast and the sound of happy kids makes you want to be there. This is not just a school but a community hub, a place where families get together, where our rural surroundings don’t feel so far apart, and a place that reminds you that elementary school isn’t so bad after all.

Next year my youngest daughter will start school at Petite. Although she is a quiet, shy child she will be happy to start at Petite because it is a small and peaceful environment. She already knows half of her class and her teacher for next year. She knows most of the kids in her school, has worked in the garden, played on the playground, and been part of most of the events happening at her future school. Going to school is not scary for her as it’s part of her community already. This is why we moved here; So that she would not have to be shipped off to a school of 400 students and lost in the crowd.

With all the talk of school closures I ask myself if the school board and the government know what kind of an impact they are creating on families like mine. I can think of at least ten other families with young children who have moved here in the past few years for reasons similar to mine.  Do you think we will stay? Will more families with working professionals, young children, and energy toward community make the move all this way like we did if there are no longer small schools. I think No, they will not. They will move to other communities where what matters to young families is heard. Where community hubs and strong community schools are flourishing, not being closed down.

I like to believe that Nova Scotia is a good place to live. That the South Shore is an empowered, creative, and supportive community for young families who have so much to give back to the community and in the building of a sustainable future. Unfortunately, with all that has been happening with the ongoing struggle to keep our vibrant small school open I feel that we are being treated like we don’t matter down here. That no matter what we say or do, we will not be heard and that our school like so many others is being closed. Is this really all about saving money? What about all the other factors, like what is best for our kids and our community?

Let’s give it our all, lets pull together to save our school and community, and let’s prove that we are indeed living in a wonderful part of the world where children, families, and communities do matter. Let’s show everyone that it is worth moving across the country for!

Jill Swaine

Lahave, NS

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