News Local

School's out forever

COLIN MCKIM, THE PACKET AND TIMES

The last day of school had a poignant ring at Mount Slaven Public School yesterday afternoon as tearful students said goodbye to each other and the 59-year-old building itself.

"I've been at this school my whole life," said Grade 7 student Brooke Barnsdale, her cheeks moist with tears.

"I love this school."

Built in 1950, the elementary school on Westmount Drive is being closed by the school board and students will be split next year between Harriett Todd and the new Lions Oval school.

Barnsdale will be in Grade 8 at the new school while her best friend, Jennifer Robinson, is going to Harriett Todd.

"It's really hard being separated," Barnsdale said.

Grade 8 graduate Amy Moodie has been at the school since she was in kindergarten.

"It's sad knowing the school's being closed and there's not going to be anyone in it," she said.

"It will be really upsetting to walk by the school when it's being torn down," said her classmate Sammie Juhl.

"We won't be able to come back and visit."

There are so many good memories.

And not so good, says Barnsdale, who can still remember the embarrassment of tearing her green dress on the slide in Grade 1.

"My mom had to bring me new clothes."

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."

Even the 69-year-old crossing guard, Bill Chatten, is feeling a little blue about the closure.

He attended the original two-room school house built in 1890 and torn down when the existing school was built in 1950.

"I got the strap," Chatten recalled. "I was throwing snowballs and hit a teacher in the back of the head. Somebody dared me."

Chatten says he'll be reassigned to Quinn Avenue next school year.

Principal Mark Pinnell says school memorabilia will be split between the two schools that will be taking Mount Slaven students.

A limestone cornerstone from the original 1890 school will go to the Lions Oval along with a framed black and gold Mount Slaven Eagles jersey. A jersey will also go to Harriett Todd for display.

Pinnell also made DVDs for all the students with 1,000 pictures of field trips, assemblies, sports and other school events this year.

Many of the students say they want something solid as a souvenir.

"I'm going to come back when it's demolished and get a brick," said Grade 8 graduate Jesse DeGroot.

Her younger sister Althea says the closure is depressing.

"We don't get to see our teachers ever again. We're all going to different schools."



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