“There aren’t many institutions that work in this life.”
These were the words of a fellow SAC member as we spoke about Saint Mary’s. If not our rallying cry that statement is certainly at the heart of our desire to save it. There aren’t a lot of institutions that we’d bother to get excited about these days but Saint Mary’s is a very different story. It’s worth saving because it DOES work!
It works not only for the reasons that come immediately to mind – diversity, inclusiveness and student success – but also for the very reasons that the school board says it does not. The school board says our building is inadequate and deficient and unable to deliver the education programme and home to too many out-of-area families. We disagree with each and every one of their claims and over the next five months we’ll be preparing a report that tells them why.
On the charge of out-of-area families being problematic, for example, we’ll be arguing that community is about belonging, not about geography. And when it comes to creating a sense of belonging Saint Mary’s has it hands-down. Our kids belong. No matter where on the map we come from, whether it’s from another neighbourhood or another hemisphere, we’re a community, And in an age when so many of our relationships are virtual and take place electronically and at a distance it is ridiculous to say that students and families travelling from beyond an imaginary boundary line to get to school are in the wrong. Our community works.
This and our many other reasons for seeing Saint Mary’s survive are the messages we have to send. Our reasons are as many as we are. Each student, each parent and teacher and alumnus and those who have in some way benefitted from Saint Mary’s now need to say so. Whenever we can, as often as we can, over the next few months we need to tell others and particularly those who are in the position of deciding our fate.
We now have our core organization in place. We have those who will work directly on writing our response to the school board’s report and those who will support the effort to make it the best response possible. We’ll all be working toward the same goal but we’ll each do so from our own area of strength and experience. I’ll be asking Ms. Larken and a Grade 3 parent, for example, to capture the story, in pictures and in words, of why her art instruction programme is as successful as it is. I’ll be asking Ms. Coady to describe the cherished things about our school from her perspective as principal. We all have stories of this type and they’ll all be included in our report.
And of course there’ll also be a group or groups out there attracting attention to our cause. I’ll be asking Michele, our PTA chair and local business owner, if her store might serve as a hub for collecting expressions of community support and spreading the word. And I’ll be asking Jamie and Pete and Sophie and Jon to knock on their neighbours doors, petition in hand, to collect the signatures of those who are prepared to say they want Saint Mary’s to stay.
That’s all for now. I’ve got work to do. WE’VE got work to do. For starters I have to get in touch with all those people I mentioned above to ask them to do the things I mentioned. We’re flying by the seat of our pants with this. None of us are experts. Don’t be bashful about speaking up. We’re all amateurs – doing it for our love of the school.
PS – please write with any questions, concerns or suggestions. Here’s my email: firstname.lastname@example.org