It was the start of the summer break and the end of an era for Rutherford Elementary on Thursday. The school shut down at the end of this past week. FILE PHOTO

Students say farewell as Rutherford Elementary closes

North Nanaimo school held farewell assembly on Thursday

The last bell of the day rang at Rutherford Elementary on Thursday afternoon, signalling the start of summer break and the end of the school’s more than five decades in the community.

It’s “sad, very sad,” said London Adshead, 10, of the last day at the school. “Just not seeing some kids that are going to the same school as you and not being able to see them again, only like maybe for a few seconds like at a grocery store or something.”

It was the end of the year for Rutherford Elementary students and the last time children would fill classrooms at the north Nanaimo school, which opened in 1965.

Nanaimo school board voted to close Rutherford, due to issues including declining enrolment, three years ago when it faced a $2.7-million structural deficit; a move that hinged on the B.C. Ministry of Education providing funding for expansion of the nearby Frank J. Ney Elementary. Dollars were announced in 2017.

RELATED: Nanaimo school board votes to close schools

RELATED: Nanaimo school district anticipates Rutherford Elementary closure in June 2018

Students, set to be divided between Frank J. Ney, Randerson Ridge and McGirr next September, came together for a farewell assembly on Thursday.

Trustee and zone representative Tania Brzovic said it was very moving, very emotional, there were some tears, but also a lot of good memories and a feeling of people trying to be positive and upbeat and honor retirees and Grade 7 students.

“One of the things I appreciated … they have a tradition where the Grade 7s pass the bench to the Grade 6s and I wasn’t sure they would do that this year. They did it,” she said. “They kept that tradition, that sort of thing that marks the Grade 6s, they are moving up to their last year of elementary school.”

Brzovic, who attended the school throughout her elementary years, called it a sad day and said she has many memories.

“My most fond memory of Rutherford was when I was a student, I actually used to play outdoor hockey,” she said, adding being a kid using a wheelchair, she didn’t play exactly the same way as other kids but nobody made an issue of that. “We were inclusive when I think people didn’t know what that word really meant.”

Students will now be bused to Frank J. Ney, something Brzovic said there’s a lot of relief about, and she said all of the staff have done a good job of introducing children to the schools they’ll be attending. There’s also a committee helping with the transition.

“I think there’s still some frustration when we see all the portables in the north end, people still don’t quite understand why it was felt this was the right decision,” said Brzovic, who later noted that one thing she is proud of is that the board resisted the urge to put the property on the market.

“We held onto it because we do understand there may come a time that we may need it, and it didn’t make sense to sell it given its location and given the dearth of land in the north end,” she said. “While we figure out what’s happening with growth, we just can’t afford to get rid of that land in my opinion.”

There was an effort to make the day as happy as possible for kids, with a free pizza lunch and popsicles, according to Rutherford parent Bozena Lassak, but she said it wasn’t enough.

“Kids felt like this was the last day. They were crying, they were asking why, so we have no answers and it doesn’t make sense,” she said, adding the district is “overflowing with children.”

She said she wants to see more thought put into the kids, rather than politics.

Adshead said some of her best memories are of recess and field trips, like hiking at Westwood Lake. She’s now heading to Frank J. Ney.

Her advice for other Rutherford students?

“Kids that are nervous to go to other schools shouldn’t be, there’s lots of people coming to the same schools as them and they’ll meet new friends,” she said.



news@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Opposition to 388 Machleary proposal over-extends public hearing

Nanaimo residents 10-1 against development plan in Old City Quarter, public hearing to be continued

Nanaimo beekeepers take down nest of giant hornets

One nest eradicated at Robins Park, but there are still Asian giant hornets around

Nanaimo athletes earn gold, silver, bronze at 55-Plus B.C. Games

Huge contingent of local participants competed in largest-ever 55-Plus B.C. Games in Kelowna

Beefs & Bouquets, Sept. 19

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

Nanaimo Art Gallery exhibit explores German faux First Nations subculture

Artist Krista Belle Stewart shows photos, videos and items from east German ‘Indianers’

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Horvat paces Canucks to 6-1 pre-season win over Oilers

Vancouver improves to 3-1 in NHL exhibition action

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

‘He’s trying to kill me’: Victoria police commandeer boats to reach screaming woman

No charges laid and civilians to be awarded honours after incident on Gorge Waterway

Island contestant competes on Great Canadian Baking Show

Andrea Nauta auditioned for the show before but was lucky second time around

VIDEO: B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker loses temper in interrogation

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

Premier cites students, local Indigneous community as reason to repair the road

Most Read