To the Editor,
So, you finally accomplished it! After 20 plus years and a lot of manipulations, you have now voted to close Epsom School, although I understand that there were several trustees missing for that vote. Yes, there were many arguments used to justify this closure, most of them centered on saving money. That is necessary, but it is not true that kids going to that school were shortchanged in any way. No, they didn’t have a gym but they had lots of open space, and most lived on farms. No music programs but they did have music, and put on great concerts.
Teachers? The best, as far as I ever heard and experienced, and with far more time for the students than is often the case in large schools! Most graduates did not suffer when they went on to high school; many achieved better marks, and took part in more in-school and after school activities, than their town counterparts.
Village schools are not just institutions of learning but repositories of local history. Although the first school in Epsom was built just west of the present school location, on what we now call the Reach Road, the little red brick school in the village had been there since 1876. For the Asling family, and a few others, it is woven into their family history. Six generations have been a part of all that took place there. Great grandfather Chester taught there; both my paternal grandparents and their siblings attended, part of the time while their father taught; my father and his brother, my 2 siblings and I, my sister’s children and then her grandchildren all attended this school.
My grandmother was caretaker for years, and often boarded the teacher. Then her sister took over, followed by her daughter-in-law for 42 years. I recall how years ago, water was carried across the street from their house to the school each day. This one room school house had anywhere from 36 to 42 students in 8 grades, and one teacher! How could that have been easier than the way it is and will be until June 30, 2017? There were a great many social lessons learned there as well as academic!
My father and grandfather were trustees, as was my grandmother’s father I believe. Each one did their duty to safeguard the future of this little red brick school, which has since grown larger, but no less important. Now, after much debate, about a foregone conclusion, that our little brick school was safe from elimination, as many residents always thought (but kept on fighting), the highlights and accomplishments of 145 years will be wiped out.
Future village residents will not know about one of the things that made Epsom the great little village hub it was, for almost as long as the country has been Canada, within a larger rural community.
The school should be given a Historic site designation!
A suggestion has been made that the facility not be sold but kept as a museum, to show and instruct students on, just what it was like to attend school in the pioneer era, and on the progress made within its walls. I do hope this avenue is pursued, if the school absolutely must be shuttered. Keep history alive!
As the old saying goes, “If you don’t know where you have been you won’t know where you are going”.
Dr. Pat Asling, Sandford, proud graduate of Epsom Public School.
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