Petite Rivière School communities receive provincial recognition for outstanding spirit

by Charles Mandel

In 2018, the South Shore Regional School Board nearly succeeded in closing down Petite Riviere Elementary School. On June 27, the communities who fought to keep the school open found out they are receiving a major accolade.

For their part in the battle to keep the Petite Riviere Elementary School open, communities served by that school learned today they are one of four recipients of the Lieutenant Governor's Community Spirit Award for 2019.

The successful submission was made by the Greater Petite Area Community Association (GPACA), on behalf of the 11 communities in the Petite School catchment district, and with the support of the Broad Cove Community Association; the Petite Rivière Community Park Association; the Lahave & Area Refugee Support Committee; and Petite Rivière Elementary School & School Advisory Council.

"We are both honoured and excited to have our communities recognized in this manner," GPACA chairperson, Peter Garcin, of Mount Pleasant, said in a statement.

"Our successful campaign to keep open Petite School further galvanized the spirit of cooperation and positive energy in this area. Our communities have so much to celebrate together. This award will allow us to do this is a formal way."

In February 2018, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia rebuffed the South Shore Regional School Board's (SSRSB) 2017 motion to close Petite Riviere School.

The Honourable Justice Christa M. Brothers declared the SSRSB's motion a "violation of the procedural duty of fairness."

Brothers rendered the decision in the judicial review that pitted Stacey Godsoe and the Greater Petite Area Community Association against the South Shore Regional School Board and the Attorney General of Nova Scotia.

Godsoe and a number of community members had been fighting to keep the school open following the board's decision to close it.

"While courts in our province have been loath to interfere with a Board's decision to close a school, this is a unique situation where the Board itself did not afford a school community the procedural fairness required. Furthermore, the Board's confusion and lack of clarity produced unreasonable interpretations," Brothers wrote in her decision.

Not long after the decision was rendered the school won a major prize, a $20,000 tech shopping spree from Staples and Earth Day Canada. The school is one of 10 winners in the national Superpower Your School contest.

Petite Riviere was chosen from more than 740 applications for its outstanding sustainability efforts and environmental initiatives.

The Lieutenant Governor's Community Spirit Award celebrates the power, strength and diversity of vibrant communities across Nova Scotia. Communities selected for the award promote citizen engagement, civic pride and a positive outlook on the future.

Successful applicants are supported in hosting a community gathering, where the Lieutenant Governor will present them with a hand-crafted award and unveil a sign to display in the community. The date and details for the community celebration will be announced in the near future.

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