Saturday, June 27, 2009

School obituaries, round three

As the week comes to an end, a few more school obituaries were published as students wrapped their last few moments in schools closing over the summer.
Orillia's story featured plenty of students reacting to their last days at Mount Slaven Public School. Kudos to reporter Colin McKim-- many reporters aren't comfortable speaking to young teens and children and therefor either avoid it or do a piss-poor job. None of that here.
Grade 8 student Alex Doyle was surprised by feelings of sadness as a crossing guard led him safely across Westmount for the last time.
"I thought I'd be glad to be gone," Doyle said.
But not having the school as a hang out will be strange, he says.
"With my friends, we used to meet up at school and play football and soccer.
Doyle says he'll even miss the gravel playing field.
"It's like my teacher says -- After 10 years of playing on gravel, Mount Slaven kids are the toughest in the city."
My own recent story wasn't too heavy on the kids -- a JK-3 school outside of Woodstock, I was at the school for some four hours over the last two days of school and while there was some melancholy about, most of it was from the adults. It left me wondering whether the kids realized the impact of the changes that are coming this fall.
One parent told me an interesting story during the fun day held Tuesday: Her kids believed the school building was simply going to stop existing when school was done. Bulldozers would show up in the moments after the school bell rang for the last time and the place would be razed. That was somewhat humourous, but a great example of how the eight-year-old mind digests what is happening.
I wasn't as intimately involved in covering the particular accommodation review leading to this closure, but developed connections with many sources over the four-year time line this school kept dealing with the target over its head. (I covered a high school review more consistently-- its closure is pegged for 2010) Wednesday provided some closure for myself as a journalist too. A number of people kept thanking us for our coverage (even with the outcome), yet reporting these 'obits' and last days goes to a fundamental tenet of journalism: to be society's first recorders of history.