Countdown for Academy

Pictou-Advocate-opinion

The hour glass is emptying.

Little remains in terms of time or discussion after months of making a case for Pictou Academy.

The Chignecto-Central Regional School Board is meeting tonight in Truro so that elected members can further examine the merits of closing the Academy and moving students in grades 9 to 12 from there to Northumberland Regional High School.

Members of the School Options Committee struck to study the options given them have presented their best case for keeping the students in Pictou. They resoundingly seek construction of a Primary to Grade 12 school in Pictou.

For the SOC, several things are in play: keeping the students in Pictou, preserving the 200-year history of Pictou Academy as an institution of higher learning and honouring the Academy as a brand that represents an uncommon standard that includes extraordinary teacher-student rapport.

The process is riding on something else. It hinges on a fair hearing of the facts.

That is something Jim Ryan brought into question during his presentation at the special meeting that the board hosted on March 27 at the Pictou Elementary school gym.

Ryan introduced himself as an educator of 34 years, the last 13 of those as Pictou Academy principal. He was speaking on behalf of the Town of Pictou, of which he is mayor. It meant he was far less fettered to speak in strong support for the P-12 option the SOC has presented.

He is right. Skewed numbers misrepresenting what he showed was a smaller gap between the total of course options at the Academy and NRHS is not a fair starting point for how to base a decision whether or not to preserve Pictou Academy.

The precedents for closing it do not address Pictou Academy’s unique relationship to the history of the town and this province. Legislation ensured its establishment and its perpetuity.

Several precedents support keeping the Academy open.

A P-12 school is to be built in Tatamagouche with a similar catchment area. The school board granted a P-12 option to River Hebert. High school students still attend school in Advocate. Both are smaller communities than Pictou.

The school board can do with Pictou Academy what it has done elsewhere, such as in River John. It can close the school and ride out the initial protests until they subside. That’s what the former Pictou County Health Authority did when it reduced services at the hospital in Pictou to those of restorative care.

Let us hope the board understands what is at stake. There is scant middle ground.

The school board apparently wants the Academy to die. Members of the SOC, the Pictou Academy Education Foundation and numerous other stakeholders want it to live.

The scriptures tell us how King Solomon did not wield his sword and rewarded compassion.

Now is another time and Pictou Academy is another reason for that.

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Heather Brimicombe
Heather Brimicombe is a Pictou County native and graduate from the University of King's College in Halifax with a Bachelor of Journalism Honours degree as well as a combined major in Sustainability. She has previously won a Canadian Communities Newspapers award for a multimedia feature and was part of a team nominated for a Canadian Association of Journalism data award in the investigative category. Photography, art, sports and outdoor activities are all hobbies of hers as well as crafting, and baking.