Keep the brick school open

Heritage advisory committee stands by Armstrong Elementary School

We are writing to express our grave concern regarding the proposed closure of Armstrong Elementary School.

This school was built in 1920 and has been in use since then. When it was built, it was the first consolidated school in B.C., if not the entire west, and came about when the then city council decided to amalgamate the eight rural schools in Armstrong and Spallumcheen into one large school.

This amalgamation was made possible by the advent of motorized transport. Boxes were built on truck chassis, benches added and children could then be bused to school. This novel idea of transporting children from rural areas to a central school caught on across the province and became known as the Armstrong plan.

The school is in very good condition and was thoroughly renovated and brought up to code, including the installation of an elevator, just before the Armstrong-Spallumcheen School District was amalgamated with the Shuswap School District. It was given heritage designation by the City of Armstrong June 24, 2013 and placed on the city heritage register, as well as both the provincial and federal heritage registers.

It does not make sense that the provincial government would officially recognize the historical and heritage value of the school and then allow it to be closed. It is quite possibly the premiere heritage building in the North Okanagan-Shuswap area and most definitely the premiere heritage school in the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District. It should be preserved and used.

The two remaining schools in Armstrong will be at 90 per cent capacity and there is already talk of installing portables. This does not make sense either.

Is Armstrong Elementary taking the hit for the entire school district? This is neither fair nor necessary.

Jessie Ann Gamble, Dawn Jamieson and Gail Salter, Armstrong Heritage Advisory Committee

 

Vernon Morning Star

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