My local elementary school is under threat of closure due to budget cuts and narrow-minded thinking. Located twenty-four kilometers from the nearest town, Kersley Elementary is a small, rural school, with three classrooms and sixty-one students from Kindergarten through grade seven. It is an integral part of the surrounding community. The interweaving of school and community touches every aspect of life.
Like many people who live in Kersley, my family has a strong connection with the school. My husband attended Kersley Elementary in the 1960’s, my children attended the school from kindergarten through to grade 7, and I was a teacher there for fifteen years. My family has lived in the community for twenty-nine years.
Our school has always reflected rural school values where there is a strong emphasis on positive peer relations. It is not uncommon to see a grade 7 student playing with a student in the primary grades. The small size of the school creates a family-like atmosphere where each child belongs, and no child is left out.
Without a nearby school, young families would be reluctant to move into the area, and the community would wither and die like so many other rural communities. Just as a store, a post office, and a fire hall are essential to a community, a school for our children to attend and learn our values is an integral part of any community.
We must show the people who produce the food we put on our tables, that we value them and their contributions. We must stand and speak out against the destruction of rural schools and communities. I’m keeping my fingers crossed our local school board will see the value in rural schools and keep Kersley Elementary open.