Concerned Pettibone decision won't be about the children
To the Editor:
Just the mention of John Pettibone School brings out many different emotions in the townspeople of New Milford.
You have the "No nonsense, let's just tear it down and make us some money" crowd, then the "Undecided because I do not have enough info" group.
Add to that the "Let's plan to use it differently but not destroy it" supporters and then, finally, there are the "Sentimental history-loving" people.
I feel in order to make a good decision we have to look at everything each of these groups are proposing but with caution on some.
To make a wise decision about the future, the best approach may be to look at the past, not only the past of the building in question but of the decisions the town of New Milford has made -- not all which have been good.
I do realize we should not base the decision on sentimentality and history alone, but we should not ignore it, either.
We should never dismiss tradition, roots and history.
To start, those who are not familiar with John Pettibone the man should read about him and the history of the building that was dedicated to him.
Most people, after reading his biography, will understand we are dealing with more than just an old building.
John Pettibone dedicated the major portion of his life to education.
John Pettibone was involved in New Milford education for 42 years. After his passing, the decision was made to build a school and it was easy to decide to whom to dedicate the building.
John Pettibone School was built with pride and love. The building once housed more than 1,000 students.
It is as much a part of New Milford history as are other historic places.
Roots matter, traditions matter and iconic buildings provoke our senses and give us connections to where we live. People who have strong connections with the towns they live in tend to become more involved, more involvement means a better environment for everyone who calls New Milford home.
Now let's move on to the present.
The children who attend John Pettibone School, along with the faculty, have deep feelings and a love for their school. Families have invested time and energy into its continued use as a school.
The classrooms are big and bright, the cafeteria and gym are solidly built rooms. John Pettibone is not a "warehouse school" but, rather, it is warm school with nooks and crannies and a past full of caring, commitment and love.
In addition, many feel the building has been maintained very well by the school maintenance team.
These are our children. This is our school. This is our town.
We should not leave major decisions in the hands of a small group of people who change or move away every few years.
Stand up for your children and your grandchildren and for your town -- its past and its future.
Small classrooms are what every town desires. We have it and don't want it -- does that make sense?
Small schools give a feeling of belonging and pride and everyone needs that.
In addition, just a few years back, a lot of planning went into the conversion of the old high school into Sarah Noble. Among the discussions were the strong feelings, backed with research data, that made the board decide that it would be better to have the sixth-graders in the same building with the younger students rather than with the seventh- and eighth-graders.
What happened to that strong stance? Why is it now okay to put them back with the older students?
It is time to wake up, people.
Care about your buildings. Care about your town. Care about your values.
Most of all, care about your children and their future -- not the future of a few people trying to make a profit at the cost of our past, present and future.