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Principal to collaborate with school staff to develop plan to honour athletic achievements
ANNAPOLIS ROYAL - The fate of 40 or more championship sports banners that used to hang in the gym at Annapolis West Education Centre is still up in the air, but it appears they may be displayed – at some point, somewhere.
Local resident Mike Scott posted on Facebook recently, worried that the banners taken down during gym renovations weren’t going back up. He said the banners in question are Regional and Provincial banners won by AWEC teams since 1976 when the school was built, and he estimates there are between 40 and 50 of them.
There was even speculation that they were thrown out or destroyed, but that’s not true, said Kristen Loyst with the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board. She said the banners are in storage at AWEC.
Principal Steve Schell won’t comment to the media to confirm or deny reports that the banners won’t be put back up on the gym walls. Instead, media was referred to Loyst.
She said Schell learned late last week of a community member inquiry regarding NSSAF banners.
“The principal indicated he could meet with the concerned individual after March Break to discuss plans for these banners,” Loyst said. “No decision has been made.”
She said Schell will collaborate with school staff to develop a plan to honour the athletic achievements of both Annapolis West Education Centre and the former Annapolis Royal Regional Academy.
“Initially I contacted Steve Schell and our school board rep Susan Ritchie to see if we could just come to a solution,” Scott said, adding the principal replied that there was no timeline set to have the banners replaced. “To me that didn’t really answer anything. Then I sent him a second email asking him could he at least verify that they were going to go up. I never got a response to that, and that’s when I started a Facebook campaign to get public opinion – and a petition.”
The petition had received almost 300 signatures by Friday afternoon, and his original Facebook post has been shared 457 times with 90 comments. He’s amazed at the response.
“The majority of them are just shocked that it’s actually even an issue – that they wouldn’t automatically go back up,” said Scott in reference to Facebook comments. “Because it’s a history of the sports in that school. And it should be the history of the sports in this school where we’re sitting now (Annapolis Royal Regional Academy).”
Scott said the sports banners create pride in the school and pride in the school creates a better learning environment.
Julie Wiles was one of the people who commented on Scott’s post and later spoke to The Spectator.
“As a parent of two boys who have helped to earn many of those banners, I am appalled,” she said at the possibility that the banners might not go back up. “Our student athletes, past and present, have spent countless hours on their chosen sport and their studies. These awards are not simply ‘banners.’ They represent the highest level of dedication, sportsmanship, and skill.”
She said the young athletes performed at high levels on and off the court and deserve to know that it mattered.
“They were, and are, a huge part of the motivation and inspiration that moves every student who enters our gym,” said Wiles. “The banners of AWEC and ARRA are as much a part of the history of our schools as the graduation photos and the few trophies which remain.”
Former physical education teacher Mike Fry is as bewildered as Scott and Wiles about the apparent hesitancy to rehang the banners in the gym.
He said ARRA used to be Primary to 12, but was divided in 1976 when AWEC was built and the senior high school moved over there. ARRA students took some classes at the new AWEC and some AWEC students took classes at ARRA.
“There was an intermingling continually,” Fry said, noting that the two schools were never fully divided. When ARRA closed, the junior high went over two AWEC and it became one school again. He points to banners still on the wall in ARRA’s old gym and singles out a blue one that had been won by the high school.
“They’re all intermingled,” he said. “The division of the school was never permanent or complete.” His point being that if the banners remaining at the old Academy were taken to AWEC and all the banners from both schools were put up on that gym’s walls, it would complete a circle and the school would be truly reunited.
“From my perspective the decision, in regards to the banners, really is an internal decision of the school and the school board,” said Annapolis Royal Mayor Bill MacDonald. “Save to say though, the successes and championships of schools, whether it’s the Academy or AWEC – they are part of the history of the community.”
He’d like to see the banners go back up on the AWEC gym walls, along with the banners still hanging at ARRA. “They’ve merged the two schools, so AWEC has inherited the legacy of the Academy,” said MacDonald. “So that would be the most ideal situation.”
But the mayor did have another idea.
“If the principal of the school and the school board remain adamant that those banners not go up in the gymnasium at AWEC, maybe the Town of Annapolis Royal has to look at utilizing the old gymnasium in the old Academy as a sports hall of fame,” said MacDonald. “Display all the championship banners and historical records of the accomplishments of our students and our successful sports people in this community.”
Wiles said it's been a rough year for student athletes, referring to teachers’ work-to-rule strike action that shut down school sports.
“It's time AWEC administration gave these kids some inspiration and show them what school pride really means,” she said. “Hang the banners with pride!”