Let us not squan­der this time

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page -

The Ed­i­tor, The Glen­garry SOS (Save Our Schools) Com­mit­tee would like to thank our Glen­garry fam­ily, friends and neigh­bours for band­ing to­gether to save Glen­garry District High School. Con­grat­u­la­tions and well done!

The blow came in late Septem­ber. Sum­mer’s warmth was lin­ger­ing, but the days were no­tice­ably shorter and chil­dren had fi­nally set­tled into their schol­arly roles for an­other year when the Up­per Canada District School Board broke the news -they were look­ing to close Glen­garry District High School. Shock and tur­moil fol­lowed; the fu­ture of the school -- the com­mu­nity, re­ally -- would be de­cided within months.

True to form, res­i­dents of North Glen­garry pulled to­gether, put- ting their pre­cious time and hard­earned money to the prob­lem. As Cana­dian songstress Joni Mitchell puts it, “Don’t it al­ways seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”

When we took stock of what we had taken for granted we re­al­ized that the UCDSB sim­ply did not see the value of GDHS and all that its Alexan­dria lo­ca­tion has to of­fer.

With this, The Glen­garry So­lu­tion was born. We pro­posed that, if the school board was look­ing to con­sol­i­date schools, GDHS should be the host. A hub of ac­tiv­ity where farm boots and business suits can be found sideby-side at the bank, the den­tist, the gro­cery store, the mill, and so on -- Alexan­dria uniquely boasts a plethora of ameni­ties, coop/ex­pe­ri­en­tial ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties, and a bilin­gual atmosphere all within walk­ing dis­tance of the public high school.

It seemed un­fath­omable that the UCDSB would not want to of­fer th­ese ad­van­tages to as many stu­dents as pos­si­ble.

In mid-Fe­bru­ary, the UCDSB re­leased their fi­nal rec­om­men­da­tions – GDHS was no longer sug­gested for clo­sure. On March 23 board trustees voted to ac­cept the pro­posal, and so, GDHS is saved. Thanks to the ef­forts of the com­mu­nity, stu­dents of Glen­garry may con­tinue to en­joy the bene- fits that Alexan­dria has to of­fer. Be proud of the ac­com­plish­ment – there are oth­ers who were not so suc­cess­ful.

Now that this ex­er­cise has helped us to ap­pre­ci­ate the ru­ral gem of a town that we have cre­ated here in Alexan­dria, it is im­por­tant that we con­tinue to de­velop and grow so that we are never again in dan­ger of los­ing our schools.

Hard-won bat­tle

“The North Glen­garry com­mu­nity has pre­sented a com­pelling vi­sion that is seek­ing to pro­vide in­no­va­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents, as­sisted through con­nec­tions with local ser­vices and sup­ports that are read­ily avail­able in the Town of Alexan­dria. While the al­ter­na­tives of­fered are greatly ap­pre­ci­ated and rec­og­nized for their po­ten­tial merit, what has ul­ti­mately been clar­i­fied through this process is that more time is re­quired to reach a so­lu­tion for the Glen­garry feeder group of schools.” – UCDSB Fi­nal Staff Re­port to Board: Build­ing for the Fu­ture Pupil Ac­com­mo­da­tion Re­view, Fe­bru­ary 15, 2017.

North Glen­gar­ri­ans should pat them­selves on the back for this hard-won bat­tle. Our re­ward is time and fore­warn­ing – it must not be squan­dered. Erika Tom­sons, Alexan­dria,

and the Glen­garry SOS Com­mit­tee

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