Friday, August 26, 2011

it takes a village

We have an elementary school in our little community, Oakland Elementary, that has been here for a long time. It was originally the Oakland Academy built in 1867. There used to be elementary schools in all of the communities of the county, as many as 25 at one time. They were closed one by one in order to consolidate all the kids into one school in town. All but Oakland. This is a big community and all the locals protested it, enough so that Oakland could stay open. (Reprint from the school house, Oct 19,2005)

Not any more.

Oakland Elementary School closed at the end of May of this year due to budget cuts.

No amount of protest worked this time, the Board of Education apparently had a master plan and nothing would change it.

The kids and teachers were disbursed to other schools in the county. The bus schedules are a mess and the seat time for kids on the buses is long, even making the Atlanta news. Adding fuel to the fire, the Board of Education just purchased an empty bank building in town for over half a million dollars, headlines in the local papers.

The logistic chaos is not the tragedy here, though. Oakland was not just another school in the system, not just a number on a spreadsheet in the budget. Oakland was a small community school, a family really, where generations of families were taught by the same teachers over the years. The loss to this community is great, the grief felt every time the school is passed by on the highway.

weeds taking over playground

Just the other day on the way to town I automatically slowed down for the school zone and noticed an impatient driver behind me, then the school came into view around the curve and I thought, "Oh, I forgot, I don't have to slow down any more..." The flashing 'school zone' lights are dark, the school bells are silent. It is sad to see the school empty this time of year, the weeds growing up around the playground equipment.

2000 mural (Kyle's kindergarten class)

When Kyle was here in Kindergarten in 2000, they painted this mural and all the kids put their hand prints in paint. One day I picked him up after school from Ms. Pat and he was so excited to show me his hand print on the wall.

The only silver lining in this story is the formation of the Oakland Academy Charter School, a work in progress by local residents to try to bring back the community school.

Oakland family alumni (Madison and Melissa)

Well, maybe not the only silver lining - our family was fortunate to have ALL of our kids and grandkids all benefit from the Oakland experience.

Oakland days scrapbook

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and this village has raised many lucky children over the years. Even though the school stands empty, the friends made there are friends for life, the lessons learned there are remembered, the teachers are still being quoted, and the memories made will last forever.

The staff and I trust that your tour at Oakland has been a pleasure.
We know the memories will always be a treasure.

We have been here to offer you our best.
We now present to you the ultimate test…

To perform as well or better at Gilmer Middle School.
We feel we have offered you an efficient learning tool.

To continue your success each and every day.
To learn more and develop new paths along the way.

Do not always stick to the "tried and true"
Because our future will depend on you!

It is my desire that when I see you at Wal-Mart on any given day…
That you will remember Oakland and say hey.

~excerpt from of 'Love is More Than a Word'
by Jim Parmer, former Oakland principal (see full poem here)

Oakland School History

the school house
no more pencils


colleen said...

That's so sad. I'm glad they are going to transform and preserve it in a new form.

Anonymous said...

"Really sad for this school to be closed, always one of the best." ~Roy 'Smitty' Smith

Anonymous said...

"It's very sad to see Oakland close. It always reminded me of Epworth." ~Jane Patterson JansenvanRensburg (Janey)

Anonymous said...

"That tall grass makes it even sadder when we drive by. I hate to see schools like that close. Hope the charter gets approved!" ~Sandy Manners Broad Hunter

Anonymous said...

Hey Susan,

That's sad about Oakland School being closed. That's the way things are going now. The good, smaller schools get closed; the huge schools with no personality & no sense of family take their place. They supposedly save money; but take a look at the tremendous amounts of money that are wasted on junk by the school systems.

I hope Oakland will be turned into a charter school, or a private school again. That might be a good option for your great-grandkids someday.

~Charlie Ross

jessica simpson said...

It reminds me of a simple living. Nice thought for the day.