After 166 years, and nearly 10 years of fighting to stay open, Lorne Avenue Public School will close its doors this month.
Touring the school with Jo-Anne Bishop, a parent of 2 Lorne Ave students, the sense of community is predominant. In a school that holds nearly 900, enrollment has dropped to under half of that number in the last decade. With a current population of less than 300, the entire third floor of the school is vacant and unused.
Bishop’s daughter Alice started at Lorne Ave in JK, and is apart of the last class to graduate from grade 8, “last year’s graduation was emotional, knowing that this year would be the absolute, last class. So it really makes me emotional this year. But I also have my daughter, who started here in JK, graduating. It’s going to be a sad, bittersweet day.”
Bishop has been heavily involved in the school in the last few years, and says it’s even inspired her – at 42 years old – to go to teacher’s college, “I come into the school a lot. I’ve watched most of these kids grow up since JK. Sometimes teachers from other classes, that my kids aren’t in, will ask me to go on field trips. I love it. They’re all a great bunch.”
Bishop attributes the school’s closure to lack of enrollment, and lack of funding for necessary renovations, “it’s an older school and they figured it would cost too much to do the necessary revamps, to make it accessible, maybe put in an elevator, things like that.”
Kim Phillips has been a teacher at Lorne Ave for the last 11 years, and has taught kindergarten, grade 2/3 and 5/6, and was even a librarian for a while, “I’ve been everywhere at this school, which is great because I get to meet all the kids and all the families.”
She adds that her time at Lorne has been some of the best years of her teaching career, “seeing all the kids grow up; seeing younger siblings born and then teaching them; even having children of some of the older students come back. It’s nice because you really develop a relationship with the families.”
On Wednesday June 8th, around noon, every member of this little community gathered in the school yard to take one last photo.
To show appreciation, and help send the students and staff off, Jo-Anne Bishop organized a goodbye bash for this Saturday at noon to 3 p.m. She says, “the community really rallied behind us to help keep us open, so we want to throw a party for them, plus for these kids. It’s really hard for them to watch the school, that some of them have gone to since junior kindergarten, close.”
Students currently enrolled at Lorne Ave, will be heading to Bishop Townshend Public School in September, which will be then renamed to East Carling Public School.