Exploratory society pondering Academy’s future

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PICTOU — A group called Pictou Exploratory has set its sights on a new resource centre.

The Pictou Exploratory Society attracted about 30 people to its initial gathering for a presentation at Pictou Academy’s auxiliary gym last week. It included options for the possible use of the school that include lifelong learning, entrepreneurship and business development.

The group consists of Shawn Ryan, Jerry Cyr, Anne Holton-Melong, Luke Young, Devin Rankin and Melinda MacKenzie.

The society was created this year after people met last year to brainstorm about Pictou Academy’s potential to house the services the group would like to provide. The building dates from 1939, with a new addition some 30 years later.

The society wrote to town council recently to share its vision for community education entrepreneurship.

Luke Young, a PA graduate and current present of the Pictou Academy Education Foundation, was among presenters. He urged those attending to consider what to do with the former school, with a starting point of creating a Pictou Academy/Legacy Building.

Short of finding a use for the building, he said, “We’re going to lose a piece of the town.”

He noted, “We have issued an expression of interest,” referring to the building. “We could be a destination for education.”

Young expounded on Pictou as a centre for art, music, education, industry and tourism.

“Pictou Academy has shown time and again that special things happen here,” he said.

The society is also proposing a creative arts centre, a science and technology centre, continuing education, a skills trade workshop and a physical fitness and athletics component.

“We’re looking at this to be a destination,” Young said.

Fellow society member Anne Holton-Melong championed the Academy’s potential for creative arts.

“The auditorium is the perfect place for smaller productions,” she said.

Potential partners for the society include St. Francis Xavier University, the Nova Scotia Community College, the local fisheries school and the deCoste Performing Arts Centre.

Mayor Jim Ryan addressed the matter after the event ended.

“It’s about partnerships,” he said. “We’re looking at other options for the building. There is a proponent in the early stages of interest.”

From left: Shawn Ryan, Jerry Cyr, Anne Holton-Melong, Luke Young and Melinda MacKenzie led a presentation on behalf of the Pictou Exploratory Society. Missing was Devin Rankin. (Goodwin photo)