School's Out: Hamilton students say goodbye for summer-or forever
Community pay tributes to Prince Philip school on last day of classes
For some students in Hamilton it's goodbye for summer. For other's they're saying goodbye forever to their schools.
Prince Philip elementary school students lined up under the shade of the big oak tree as they waited to pass through the french doors of their 60 year old school for the last time.
Approximately 170 of the west end school's 199 students will be transferred to Cootes Paradise elementary school this fall.
Standing outside for a special assembly to mark the last day, Grade 3 student Robert Sculthorpe said he'd "been through a lot at Prince Philip" and was disappointed it was closing.
"I'm pretty sad that the school is closing because I've been here for five years but I'm happy to be at a new school so I can make new friends," Sculthorpe said.
Several other Hamilton schools will close their doors for the last time Friday. The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board has been closing schools all across the city. Officials say closures are driven by declining enrolment and increasing capital costs to maintain aging buildings.
'We were hoping our grandkids would go here'
The future of Prince Philip, with its spacious playground next to Alexander Park and views of the escarpment, is still uncertain and could become the site of a community recreation centre.
Ainslie Wood residents started a petition last year in support of the idea after losing a battle to keep the school open.
Mark and Nadia Coakley met at few decades ago in the same classrooms their three sons have passed through.
"We've known each other since we were both students here, our kids went here and we were hoping our grandkids would go here," Mark said, who along with his wife dressed in their green and yellow shirts displaying the school's penguin mascot.
This place has been the core of the community for a very long time.- Mark Coakley, Prince Philip school parent
"This place has been the core of the community for a very long time," Mark said. "My biggest memory is bringing one of our sons here for his first day of kindergarten and watching his skinny little legs go up the stairs. As a parent that was a moment of letting go...now his legs are twice as long and muscular and those same legs will be walking out of the building for the last time."
The school closing frustrated the Coakley's to the point that they've decided to enroll their six and nine-year old boys in the Catholic school system.
Mark said many of the parents still have a "bitterness" about closure and called the process a "reverse Robin Hood."
"They're taking all the money from this school, which is a working class neighbourhood, and all the money in this school is going to the school in Westdale which is a very upper class neighbourhood," he said, adding that students will likely face long bus rides.
A longtime resident of the community, Prince Philip's crossing guard Mike Maher watches over a mother who says a polite "thank you" as she walks her daughter to the last day of senior kindergarten.
"It kinda hurts," Maher, a crossing guard for 21 years, said about the closure. "You've known these kids a long time and they're all good kids and I hate to see the school close."
Friday's special assembly was attended by dozens of parents, the school's trustee Judith Bishop and Coun. Brian McHattie, who noted the memories we all share from our time in the classroom.
"I think school is the most important experience we have as children or as teenagers as we go through the school process," McHattie said. "Its those kind of memories that just don't go away yet when a school that we had many of those memories at has closed and changed that's really something that gets us in the heart."
Here's a look at what students, teachers and others are saying about the last day of school in Hamilton. Even as students look forward to the summer it has already been a tough morning.