It was the final first day of school at Linden Park Elementaty on the Mountain Tuesday morning, as students went back to class for the last time before the school closes in June.
Mom Maureen Charbonneau had the impending closure on her mind standing outside the school’s entrance as her son Nathan went in to start his first day of grade two.
“Yeah, you can’t help but think about it,” Charbonneau said. “This is his last year and then we’ll have to make other arrangements for him.”
Schools Linden Park, Eastmount Park and Cardinal Heights will close in June 2015. Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board trustees voted to close them at a standing committee meeting in June.
But even with the closure coming, for most, the first day was filled with excitement – some fun, and some jittery. Senior kindergarten student Dylan Hierlihy wasn’t sure if he wanted to come to school or not, says his mom, Denise.
But by the time he got up to the door, he was all smiles. “School’s really fun,” he said. And the most fun part? “We can play.” His favourite thing in the classroom? “Toys,” he said. “It’s all about the toys,” his mom laughed.
As excited as kids can be, the day can be rough for parents, says mom Kathy Long. “We’re proud, but it’s also a shock. You’re how old already?” Long said. “You think about the kindergarten days – and now they don’t want us to walk with them,” she said.
“But tough, they have to.”
Eli Laframboise was starting his first day at Linden Park as a new school Tuesday. He faced some problems with bullying at his old school, his mom Hannah Paterson says, so it’s “nice for him to have a fresh start.”
Eli wasn’t immune to those first day jitters, though. The excitement was creeping up on him as he walked to school. “But I’m excited too,” he said. “When I do something new I’m always nervous and excited.”
The school board’s decision to close Linden Park, Eastmount Park and Cardinal Heights was the latest in a sweeping accommodation review that saw 11 schools up for closure from Flamborough to east Hamilton. With the decision from June, trustees have voted to close 10 schools and build two new ones.
Linden Park students will go to Queensdale or Franklin Road next year.
The board initiated the accommodation review last June with a mandate to eliminate excess pupil places and capital costs on the aging buildings. Combined, the schools are at about 71-per cent capacity. Staffers estimate closing the schools will save the board $17.9 million.