‘It’s sad, and it’s bit­ter­sweet’

An­napo­lis Val­ley school board cel­e­brates suc­cesses, hard work over 22 past years

Valley Journal Advertiser - - NEWS - SARA ERICSSON KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA Sara.Ericsson@kingscountynews.ca

There was hardly a dry eye in the room as Lavinia Par­rish Zwicker handed yel­low roses to each of the school board mem­bers at the fi­nal An­napo­lis Val­ley Re­gional School Board meet­ing March 27.

She spoke about how the flow­ers, which rep­re­sent joy and friend­ship, sym­bol­ize the bonds and deep re­spect formed be­tween the board mem­bers dur­ing their years of col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Laugh­ter and hugs and tears en­sued as each board mem­ber re­ceived their rose, and hugged Par­rish Zwicker, the board’s chair­woman.

“Ev­ery­one take a deep breath – we can do this,” she said.

Vote to dis­solve passes

Last re­ports were given and no new busi­ness was an­nounced as the fi­nal meet­ing min­utes were ap­proved by the board.

“It’s sad, and it’s bit­ter­sweet, but we rec­og­nize that we have a job to do. And tonight, we need to com­plete that job,” said Par­rish Zwicker.

Each mem­ber thanked their col­leagues and ad­min­is­tra­tive team, re­call­ing past in­side jokes and mo­ments of de­bate, and spoke about the pride they’d taken in serv­ing their com­mu­ni­ties and work­ing for the stu­dents.

“This is a job we re­ally care about. We’re com­mit­ted for one rea­son, and that is for stu­dents, and that means hav­ing to make dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions some­times,” she said.

The board, first formed in 1996, also voted to for­mally dis­solve, a mo­ment that was fol­lowed by a heavy si­lence.

“Hav­ing elected, not hand­picked, rep­re­sen­ta­tives al­ways meant our vary­ing back­grounds we brought to the ta­ble cre­ated a thor­ough and rich dis­cus­sion,” Par­rish Zwicker said.

Par­rish Zwicker spoke about her hopes the gov­ern­ment will in­put all rec­om­men­da­tions from the Glaze re­port, in­clud­ing en­sur­ing in­ter-agency col­lab­o­rat­ing and new fund­ing for­mu­las, and that their pri­or­i­ties will be in the right place – with the stu­dents – mov­ing for­ward.

“No mat­ter what is tran­spir­ing with the adults in our world, we know our stu­dents will be pro­tected each day in the class­room,” she said.

On­go­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion for mi­nori­ties: con­cern­ing

Tassa Kennedy, the board’s Mi’kmaq rep­re­sen­ta­tive, said that one of the Race Re­la­tions, Cross Cul­tural Un­der­stand­ing and Hu­man Rights, or RCH, com­mit­tee’s last acts was to sub­mit a let­ter to ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Zach Churchill, call­ing for the gov­ern­ment to en­sure a greater bal­ance of voices to rep­re­sent African Nova Sco­tian and Mi’kmaq stu­dents and fam­i­lies on both the tran­si­tion team and the pro­vin­cial ad­vi­sory coun­cil.

She, along with the board’s African Nova Sco­tian rep­re­sen­ta­tive Peter Cromwell, are con­cerned with the elim­i­na­tion of re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tives for African Nova Sco­tian and Mi’kmaq com­mu­ni­ties.

Cromwell said the work accomplished by RCH coun­cils has not just been for the ben­e­fit of mi­nor­ity stu­dents, and that progress is ev­i­dent on a lo­cal level, with a group of Bridgetown stu­dents nam­ing their new school street af­ter Cromwell’s mother, Edith Hope Cromwell.

“When I was young, we didn’t have a hope in hell a street would ever be named for a black woman,” he said.

“It is im­por­tant stu­dents en- vi­sion the new re­al­ity of Canada, in terms of all peo­ple liv­ing here, and they are do­ing that. But now, we may lose that. This new rep­re­sen­ta­tive isn’t Su­per­man – how will he han­dle ev­ery prob­lem? That’s im­pos­si­ble.”

Loss of lo­cal voice also a po­ten­tial prob­lem

Cromwell and Kennedy agree their big­gest con­cern mov­ing for­ward is for ru­ral mi­nor­ity stu­dents, rather than those in ur­ban ar­eas near where the new pro­vin­cial ad­vi­sory coun­cil will set up shop in Hal­i­fax.

For Cromwell, he wor­ries that mem­bers of dis­en­gaged, dis­en­fran­chised com­mu­ni­ties will once again lose out, not be­ing able to find the right av­enues for speak­ing up for their kids.

“This is a real prob­lem, and is not just about African Nova Sco­tian stu­dents,” he said.

Kennedy agreed, say­ing the re­duc­tion in rep­re­sen­ta­tives means “a lot of voices will be lost.”

“This is why we drafted the let­ter – we want more voices, more seats,” she said.

“We’re hop­ing the tran­si­tion team works to solve this. Our voices in the An­napo­lis Val­ley still need to be heard.”

For Par­rish Zwicker, the big­gest pri­or­ity is find­ing out what pa­ram­e­ters the new pro­vin­cial ad­vi­sory coun­cil will have to op­er­ate within. She hopes the main fo­cus will re­main with the stu­dents.

“We have to rec­og­nize the pub­lic was in tune they have board mem­ber that rep­re­sents them. They were phys­i­cally able to come to meet­ings, since they were held in their area,” she said.

“It re­mains to be seen if that lo­cal voice is still there.”

SARA ERICSSON

Su­per­in­ten­dent Roberta Ku­bik hugs fel­low board mem­ber Pat Parker af­ter hand­ing her a yel­low rose, sym­bol­iz­ing the bonds and deep re­spect formed be­tween the board mem­bers dur­ing their years of col­lab­o­ra­tion.

SARA ERICSSON

Gerry Burrell and Stephen Ami­rault smell the roses and smile as they are handed out at the school board’s last meet­ing.

SARA ERICSSON

Chair Lavinia Par­rish Zwicker, with Nancy Bigelow- Acker videoed in from a sep­a­rate lo­ca­tion, ad­dresses the board.

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