My heart feels heavy for the students, the parents and all the residents of our wonderful, caring community for the unbelievably wrong-headed decision by the UCDSB Trustees to close R-O Secondary School.
Personally, I strongly feel that Rothwell-Osnabruck JK-12 should be grandfathered by the provincial government to stay open as long as the students and our community wishes it so. This should have been stated in the initial agreement with the provincial government back in 1958-59. Maybe it was. This is a question for Jim Brownell, our local historian and Heritage Trust member, perhaps.
The people of this area suffered so much already in 1959 with the flooding of the Seaway and all kinds of promises were made to the residents in exchange for them uprooting their lives (literally) with some losing their family homes, indeed losing their history, lifeblood, memories, property and their sense of who they were and where they came from. I wonder if these promises were kept. Indeed, if we knew then what we know now, the flooding would never had happened. However, hindsight is always 20/20.
Yes, they were financially compensated at the time, but what price do you put on a person’s history, memories, passion for their homestead and their past being ripped from them? One can only imagine the heartbreak of giving up everything you have ever known and thrust into the ‘unknown’. I wonder how many of the older generation died from the stress and heartbreak. Those statistics have never been reported I’m sure.
I am not originally from this area. I was 10 years old when the Seaway was flooded, but I remember seeing photographs of the process and even as a 10 year old I felt profoundly affected. The sadness and heartbreak for the people of South Stormont can never be described, nor will it fully be, for the people of our South Stormont are stoic, strong and practical people. They are not complainers, but ‘doers’. Their mindset is to make the best of any situation and ‘carry on’.
However, there must come a point where ‘enough is enough’. This decision to close Rothwell-Osnabruck SS is just wrong-headed. What about all the wonderful, creative ideas put forth by our amazing ARC committee and many others? It felt that some Trustees came with a ‘closed’ mind and that nothing that was suggested would be even worthy of consideration. This comment, of course, excludes the five Trustees who voted in favour of the amendment to reconsider keeping R-O SS open. Wendy MacPherson especially worked diligently and passionately on our behalf as did many residents. We were unbelievably fortunate to have Jennifer MacIsaac and Teri-Lynn Beckstead at the helm, two very passionate, strong, intelligent women. They made sure our voices were heard, but some decision makers were deaf to their words and to their intelligent, thoughtful solutions.
It is time for our Provincial Government to get involved. It is our children and grand-children who will suffer and personally, I feel that the amazing people of this area have suffered enough. Let us change the legacy of loss and grief of the past, make a gesture of reconciliation and acknowledge that we deserve to keep our students here to grow and learn in our unbelievably nurturing and caring community. Do not let us down.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for UCDSB to show our young students,that it’s not always about dollars, cents or mega-schools. Show them that you truly care about their needs beyond the seeming press towards urban development and away from our small town, rural roots and values. We want you to stand up for us now, not to reflect in five or ten years on how you wish you could have made a different decision.
Go back to the table in this ‘cooling off period’ and make the ‘right’ decision. Have courage and trust that it will work. Be a hero. We will all make it work. We want to believe that you have our best interests at heart, but we are losing faith. All we ask is that you do the ‘right’ thing. Do not underestimate our commitment to our students, our residents and our school.