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Bittersweet news swapped for sweet memories at CeleBarton

Many Barton Consolidated students, including Layla Knevel, 10 and Emma Chisholm, 11, attended CeleBarton June 3 to turn a bittersweet occasion into a fun day full of lasting memories.
Many Barton Consolidated students, including Layla Knevel, 10 and Emma Chisholm, 11, attended CeleBarton June 3 to turn a bittersweet occasion into a fun day full of lasting memories.

BARTON, NS – Barton Consolidated may be closing, but a recent event has showed its memories are wide open.

CeleBarton was held Saturday, June 3 at Barton Consolidated School.

Around 75 people attended the event filled with games for the kids outside, an opening ceremony, and memorabilia inside the building for the community to browse.

Event organizer and president of the Home and School Association Jessica Eisener decided to continue with the event this year.

Held annually as the association’s largest fundraiser, the event is something students look forward to, said Eisener, which is why it went ahead this year despite the school’s pending closure at the end of this school year.

“The kids always get excited, so we kept it going and just changed its focus,” she said.

She feels the loss of the school will be a loss of community heritage.

“Every community should have a church, a school, a post office – it just feels like an end of an era that way,” she said.

Local playwright Hal Theriault, who entered grade 6 at the school when it opened in 1960, spoke of his memories of the school and its role in the community at the opening ceremony.

Local playwright Hal Theriault was among the school’s first class of students when he started there in grade six in 1960, the year it opened. He spoke during the opening ceremony, encouraging people to not dwell on the school’s closure but instead focus on the memories made.

“The memories created here will last beyond the brick and mortar of the building itself, through the people who went here and their children after them,” he said.

Various games were set up for kids to participate in including a mock jail, which was by far the most popular.

The jail’s supervisor was retired Barton teacher Sharon Wagner, who substituted at the school starting in 1978 and taught fulltime from 1987 to 2001.

Wagner said the event was special for several reasons, including how it brought back old traditions, such as displaying the school’s years – 1960 to 2017 – in the windows.

“It’s nice to see things in the windows again. People used to drive by the school because of the artwork we’d display in the windows and we’ve brought that back today,” she said.

“It’s hard to be sad when the kids are so happy.”

Barton students Layla Knevel, 10 and Emma Chisholm, 11 remembered some of their favourite memories at the school.

The school used to often display student artwork in its windows and did once again June 3: 1960, the year it opened and 2017, the year it closed. Retired Barton teacher Sharon Wagner said this was one of several reasons the event was a special one.

“My grade 3 spring concert was my favourite time here,” said Knevel.

“For me it was all of the Heritage Fairs,” said Chisholm.

“We’d learn a lot of things we didn’t know about, like Weymouth Falls and fashion.”

The name of the game at CeleBarton was to focus on the positive, and everyone seemed to do just that.

“This was a great school and we are sad to see it go… but we’ve built lasting memories here and that’s what today is about,” said Theriault.

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