Emotions may have subsided for Pictou residents, knowing Pictou Academy has a future and high school students will continue to attend high school in town.
Feelings would have been much different had the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board decided to disregard strong sentiment and even more profound reasons for the Academy’s stakeholders, close the Academy and send its students to Northumberland Regional High School next September.
That folly was averted, but what the board has agreed to do has no sense of perpetuity about it.
The board has voted overwhelmingly to create a Primary to Grade 8 school at Pictou Elementary, house students in grades 9 to 12 at Dr. Thomas McCulloch school and transfer the Pictou Academy name to that school.
The more than 200 people who attended the special meeting on March 27 in Pictou and the more than 100 people who gathered at the next special meeting on April 5 in Truro — where the decisions were ultimately made – may still possess a mixture of relief, sadness and resignation. That is what goes with realizing that the building where the Academy has been for nearly 80 years, its venerable auditorium and elegant portico, will no longer be where the students listen, learn, share and grow.
The people are wary of the long-term viability of the building that will become Pictou Academy. Either building’s future is finite. It remains for the Academy’s students and supporters to build anew, be vigilant in the face of any move by the board or by others in authority to revisit transferring the high school students and recognize the dynamics of this different Academy.
Buildings age and deteriorate. Generations pass over time. But some things do not change.
Pictou Academy is more than the buildings where it was located. Fire destroyed some of them, and the current Academy has the potential to benefit from an honourable disbandment instead of a more ignominious end.
Pictou Academy is today as much of an idea as it was when Dr. Thomas McCulloch founded it as an option for those considered unworthy of higher education elsewhere in the province. In words attributed to Aristotle, ideas are greater than people.
That is why there is wide agreement in the Academy community that it is more important to preserve that name than McCulloch’s.
Time only advances. The challenge will be for students, educators, members of the Pictou Academy Educational Foundation and the Academy’s many other supporters to stay focused on the task at hand — to balance what is physically temporary and intellectually eternal about the Academy.
There is more work to do.