Academy closure calls for more than bean counting

Pictou-Advocate-opinion

To the Editor:

This is the opinion of a proud Pictonian, raised and educated in the area. I had the very good fortune to attend Pictou Academy, albeit only for one year, prior to transferring to the newly opened West Pictou District High School. Now, 50-plus years later, I remain grateful and proud of having attended the Academy.

I don’t think it necessary to go on at length about the history of this school, beyond the fact that it was founded in 1816 by Sir Thomas McCulloch, and has continuously been a respected institution of learning from that date forward. Anyone and everyone knows its value and significance to the people of Pictou! One could easily and credibly assert that it is important to the County and the Province of Nova Scotia as well. From its earliest days, up to the present, the Academy has turned (loose upon this world) many highly impressive graduates. That said, I must get to the point of my communication. It was both shocking and appalling to learn that the CCRSB is considering closure of this venerable institution. My initial reaction to this news was one of: “How dare you… Do you know nothing of this school, its history, contribution or meaning?”

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I can’t think of anything you could do that would be more negative or destructive to Pictou, her people and in her youth. This is not just a school! I should think that anyone of average intelligence would immediately grasp this fact and recognize that the Academy is such an historic institution, that it cannot be viewed simply as a school within the district; that it rightly occupies an iconic status, challenged by few (if any) high schools in the country. I don’t want to diminish my message through sarcasm, but can’t resist suggesting you pick a less culturally and historically significant target like … well, the Ship Hector or the Bluenose!

Everyone would be much better served if the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board were to recognize and appreciate the profoundly important history and contribution of Pictou Academy, since its inception two centuries ago. Accept the fact that the Academy must continue to exist; and from that premise, identify and implement the changes necessary to ensure financial and functional viability and pertinence well into the future.

I can say with reasonable confidence that I am only one of a huge number of people who are immensely disturbed and disappointed by your indicated intentions. You will fall far short of the community’s expectations if you follow through with closure of Pictou Academy. This decision calls for much more than a bean counting.

Jim Hislop

West Kelowna, BC