By Haley MacLeod
Jan. 13, 2017
Frank Buffa remembers his son coming home after being bullied at an overcrowded elementary school in Ontario.
“He would sometimes come home bruised and bloody.”
Eventually Buffa couldn’t stand the bullying, and decided to move his family to P.E.I. Buffa researched schools and communities, and made a home in Belfast.
When his son got off the bus after his first day at Belfast Consolidated, Buffa said was smiling and happy. As tears filled his eyes, Buffa paused to regain composure.
“He even told me that he loves school.”
Buffa was one over a dozen who stood up at the meeting Jan. 12 and voiced why the school should stay open.
Keir White, Belfast Highland Greens manager, said the closure of the school would affect the community’s economy.
“We’ve had a hard year already, economically with the ferry.”
Four students from grades 7, 8 and 9 made a presentation about how they don’t want their school to close.
They touched on concerns about losing friendships, missing out on opportunities, and losing the heart of the community.
It’s not just the change of schools that parents are concerned about, it’s also their children’s mental health, said Shawn Stewart.
“Why must our children cope with such an environmental factor? Why put all this added stress on our kids?”
Former music teacher Justin Smard said parents are confused, they’re not getting answers they need, and that makes it difficult to understand what’s happening.
“We don’t know what exactly they’re trying to get at here.”
But sitting around and telling stories, and why the school should stay open isn’t going to save the school, said Mike Adam.
“I see all the passion in the room to keep the school open, but I feel like we’re playing into the government’s hands.”
Adam questioned what extent the community is really willing to fight for the school.
“Let’s find out if there are legal flaws in the way the government has approached this whole, find someone to expose them, and have someone sue the government.”
The community cheered at the idea of getting a lawyer to provide them with more time and even started raising money.
Mike Adam speaks in front of a crowd of over 200 people Thursday night at a meeting to prevent Belfast school from closing. Photo by Haley MacLeod