The Chignecto-Central Regional School Board has identified Maitland District Elementary School as one of five up for review for possible closure. A decision will be made by the end of the month.
Twenty-two people registered to voice their concerns and about 180 people packed into the gymnasium for the meeting, including parents, children, grandparents, area residents and business people.
Joan Narbon, a local resident, doesn't agree that the experience and learning students would receive at different schools would be the same as they are currently seeing at Maitland district.
"The presence of Maitland district is an important component to our community's identity," she said. "It is regarded with pride by present and former students. Physical presence is integral in our community and helps maintain and develop economic activity in Maitland and surrounding communities."
She said the school and community work together with many students moving on to join the fire department's junior program, which helps keep a department in the area. Local businesses also hire students for summer work.
"Children have an enriched learning experience by going to school in their own community," she said.
Trying to keep her emotions at bay, mother Kim Henwood explained why she and her family now live in the community.
"My child attends this school because my husband and I decided to move an hour out of town to give my child a fighting opportunity to receive the education he deserves," she said, noting there are a number of issues at larger schools, such as overcrowding and bullying.
"Our children get lost in the crowd," she said of larger schools. "Here, we don't have any of these (concerns). We have the right amount of student-to-teacher ratio. We are like one big family.
"Every child is watched over by their brothers and sisters, whether they are related or not."
Henwood says by keeping the children at Maitland district it will give them an added advantage before moving on to junior and high school levels. It also gives them a "self-being of knowing who they are."
Along with Maitland, schools facing possible closure include Bass River Elementary, Wentworth Elementary, River John Consolidated and East Pictou Middle School. The school board has said by closing all five schools, the board will save about $1-million a year.
Melissa Sanford volunteered at the school when her children attended, and has since returned to volunteer in the library.
"It is such a positive and rewarding experience," she said. "These young children are wonderful, they are incredibly curious, enthusiastic and oh, so innocent. The idea of these children being on an unsupervised bus with older kids for up to an hour, each way, every weekday greatly concerns me."
She said bus drivers need to concentrate on their driving and can't be distracted, yet are to supervise what happens on the bus.
Her concern is for the language the younger children may be subjected to on the bus, as well as the potential for bullying.
"I want to emphasize," she added. "These are young, easily influenced and easily intimidated children. They are in a space where they have no control, no supervision and no say.
"This is not a good education."