Parents, children, grandparents, teachers and residents started filing into the West Colchester consolidated gymnasium about five minutes before a public meeting into the possible closure was to start.
Bass River Elementary School has been on a list of five schools within the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board for possible closure since the fall. It currently has an enrollment of 20, and if closed, those 20 would join 109 at West Colchester Consolidated less than a kilometer away. The school board has until March 31 to make a decision on the closure.
At the meeting, five of six presenters on an agenda spoke to the crowd, including Tanya Harnish, a mother of children that attend both schools.
"Our family moved back here one year ago not knowing anything about the school review process, and now we find ourselves right in the middle of it," said Harnish.
"We moved from a big city where our children were in box schools. Since moving here, we have watched our eight-year-old daughter completely flourish in her small town and small school environment."
Harnish said her daughter has gotten to know fellow students and her teachers so much that she is actually calling them by name when talking at home.
"It was a dream come true. She was happy, finally, to go to school."
Central Economy's Garnet McLaughlin said the school review assessment doesn't include one important aspect - the power of community.
He said if the school board had gone to the community and said they needed help with the school and keeping it open, it would have been a no-brainer.
"It would have happened and it still could happen," said McLaughlin, who has three children between the ages of two weeks and 12 years old. "It's the power of the people. If we tried and we couldn't do it, as a community we could live with it."
He said the school board would have been surprised by what the community could come up with by the means of private donors.
"I'll be sad if (Bass River Elementary) closes, but I'll be really sad if we weren't asked to help the school board," he added. "It's not really a number thing for me. If we could just be a part of it, we can make it happen."
With a daughter in Grade 7 and a son in Grade 8, Karen MacFarlane said the elementary school is part of her entire family's past as both her grandmother and mother taught there, while she and her siblings, as well as children, attended.
"I watched a vibrant, active girl flounder," she said of her daughter when she first started attending West Colchester consolidated. "She was intimidated and overwhelmed by the size of the school. It took her two years to find herself again. I know first hand the damage that can be done to a little soul put into a big building not properly equipped to deal with them," she said.
Being a teacher at West Colchester consolidated for the past 24 years, Sybil Flemming said by combining the two schools, there is the potential for four-year-olds and 15-year-olds to be in the same building and some grades are already split into one class.
"Two of those are Primary and Grade 1," she said. "They require a lot of space. Even with two buildings, (students and teachers) are cramped for space."
Students from the elementary school already attend West Colchester consolidated, located less than a kilometer away, for physical education and music, the latter of which Flemming teaches up to Grade 6. She also teaches science and health, and is the guidance counselor at West Colchester consolidated.