What a year! It was around this time last year that I learned that the school board wanted to close the school across the street. At first I didn't really care... because I hadn't really thought it through. Once I started thinking beyond things like kids only having pavement for a playground or long bus rides (those things didn't get me fired up because that's what I had when I was in elementary school) and started thinking about how closing our school would impact my community and the people who lived there... that's when my heart got sucked in.
And once my heart got sucked in... I was all in.
I remember talking with people about how consuming the issue was. I would wake up thinking about it and fall asleep thinking about it. I often had sleepless nights as my mind wrestled with all the things that were wrong with closing our school.
I wrote speeches and stood in front of the school board and sometimes several hundred others trying to get them to understand the importance of our school to our community... and how closing our school would be devastating and destroy the kind of community we had.
But they closed our school anyways... and everything I pointed out in my speeches is happening.
Our community will never again be as big and strong as it was with a school.
It's harder to get to know people beyond my next door neighbors.
Everything feels disconnected, divided and different.
The saddest part...
I used to see so many kids and families during the week because of school and seeing these kids and families made it possible for me to find needs that others could help with. People were always contacting me asking who and how they could help. Just the other day I received an email from a friend looking for a family to bless this holiday season, and I wanted to cry as I sat there thinking and coming up blank.
I no longer see the kids and families. I don't know what their needs are... and therefore can't connect those who want to DO with those who have a need.
My community has lost so much more than a school.
At tonight's board meeting they will vote to accept a bid from a buyer for the building across the street that used to be our school. As far as buyers go, this one wouldn't be horrible. It's an organization that offers services for people with special needs. The problem is that everything is a step down from having a school there. Nothing will bring our community together like the school did. So it's hard to be happy about having a buyer.
And I may be a little depressed about the fact that having a buyer means it will never again be a school... which means my community will never be able to recover what was lost.
I'm still trying to figure out how to do the things I used to... differently. I'm not sure how to find the needs like I used to and I miss the joy of easily helping others.
When the school closed, my community changed...