Isle aux Morts fights to keep school that’s heart of outport community – Newfoundland & Labrador

The 664 people who live in Isle aux Morts on the southwest coast of Newfoundland say losing their school would be losing the centre of the community.

“I don’t know if there are words to describe it. I think it’s the focal point of this town. It’s a meeting place for this town,” said Mayor Nelson Lillington.

Isle aux Morts is a fishing community on Newfoundland’s southwest coast, home to about 664 people, according to the 2016 census. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

LeGallais Memorial, which has 47 students from kindergarten to Grade 9, is one of five schools the English School District is considering closing by September 2018. 

Students from Isle aux Morts could be bused 19 kilometres to St. James Elementary and High School in Port aux Basques, or 11 kilometres to Grandy’s River Collegiate in Burnt Islands. 

Students such as Jesse Organ, who’s 11, and in a classroom of 15 — in grades 5 to 7 — doesn’t like the idea.

“I think I would rather stay in our school because we won’t get to do all the stuff we do in our small school,” he said.

Missing out 

When the lunchtime bell rings at LeGallais, Jesse is picked up by his mom, who takes him home for a bowl of Spaghettios.

Eleven-year-old Jesse Organ worries he won’t get enough attention from his teachers at a new school if LeGallais Memorial closes. (Colleen Connors/CBC )

The family talks about what it will be like if the school shuts its doors for good. 

“You won’t get to come home and get lunch. You won’t get as much help because you are in a class with 30 people instead of just 15. Usually your teacher can help you in a small school. In a bigger school you wouldn’t get that help,” said Jesse.

Karen Organ frets about her son taking a bus over the twisted and rough snow-covered road to a new school, and worries about what he and the other kids will miss out on. 

“They get a lot of extra help being a smaller group of kids,” she said. “I feel if they move to a bigger school then that’s help they are not going to get. I mean, they are going to be a number in a classroom. Right now everybody knows everybody.”

Karen Organ says children from Isle aux Morts will miss out on a lot if they have to be bused to a nearby community. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

She worries her son will fall between the cracks. 

“They will miss out on everything because there is no way for them to get home. They can’t stay for extracurricular or extra help for tutoring and stuff like that,” she…

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