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Community reacts to votes for GBS

  • Community members spent the day outside urging people to vote 'No' on School District Warrant Article 8.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Community members spent the day outside urging people to vote 'No' on School District Warrant Article 8.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Sarah Dunning of Bennington shows supports for Great Brook School with her children outside Pierce Elementary School in Bennington on Tuesday.
  • Theresa Kimball stands outside of the Pierce School in Bennington on Tuesday with her two children Carly, middle, and Matt, both of whom are sixth graders at Great Brook School.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Pete Burwen, left, stands outside the Antrim Town Hall campaigning to save Great Brook School with his son, Sean, right, and Nicholas Drummond, middle, who are both fifth graders at GBS.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Community members spent the day outside urging people to vote 'No' on School District Warrant Article 8.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Nicholas Drummond, left, and Sean Burwen, both 10-year-olds and fifth graders at Great Brook, stand outside of the Antrim Town Hall Tuesday campaigning to save their middle school.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Community members spent the day outside urging people to vote 'No' on School District Warrant Article 8.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Community members spent the day outside urging people to vote 'No' on School District Warrant Article 8.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Community members spent the day outside urging people to vote 'No' on School District Warrant Article 8.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Community members spent the day outside urging people to vote 'No' on School District Warrant Article 8.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)
  • Community members spent the day outside urging people to vote 'No' on School District Warrant Article 8.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Brandon Lawrence)

After months of campaigning and urging people to vote ‘No’ on ConVal School District’s Warrant Article 8, Antrim resident Jess Gerrior said she can relax a little bit.

Article 8, which would have closed Great Brook School beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, did not receive the two-thirds vote needed to pass on Tuesday at town elections. If fact, the school received a district-wide vote of confidence after just 37 percent of voters backed the proposal for closure.

Gerrior was part of a very visible presence in the district that opposed closing the school.

The petition could resurface next year, but community members said they will be ready if it does.

Gerrior helped create a Facebook event she said was used as a forum to answer questions and raise awareness in the community that Great Brook would close down if two-thirds of district supporters approved. “For the Facebook group, I wanted to provide an additional forum for people to ask questions and be aware of the dates [of the voting date],” Gerrior said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Gerrior also spent much of Tuesday outside of Antrim’s Town Hall with many others in the rainy conditions holding signs that read, “Save Great Brook School. Vote ‘NO’ on #8.”

Gerrior was one of many vocal opposers of Article 8 in the ConVal community. All over the nine-town region, Great Brook backers turned out to rally support at polling places with similar signs to Gerrior’s. Meanwhile, few, if any signs, supporting Article 8 could be found at the polls in Antrim, Bennington, Francestown and Hancock.

Theresa Kimball was outside for over four hours in Bennington at the Pierce School, occasionally joined by two of her children when they weren’t at Great Brook. Kimball’s 11-year-old daughter, Carly, was heavily involved in spreading the word to save Great Brook on Facebook, and also made and posted videos online to help save the school.

“[The result of the vote] shows that when people work hard and come together in a community, we can save an entire school,” Theresa Kimball said in a phone interview Wednesday. “It was all about getting the word out that made people come out and vote. And my kids got involved because it’s their school, and their future kids’ school.”

Voter turnout in the region was elevated from past years. In Antrim, the 808 ‘No’ votes on Article 8 were more than last year’s total number of people who voted.

For Great Brook Principal Jim Elder, the fact that Article 8 was voted down means people get to keep their jobs, and they get to continue improving education, which to him is the most important aspect.

“I feel like I’m just one piece of this. There are 38 great staff members who row the same boat in the same direction here,” Elder said in his office at Great Brook on Wednesday morning. “The kids and the parents see the benefit of that. The support for the school has been incredible.”

Elder added that he attributes half of the school’s success to the students raising the bar. And that spilled out into the community Tuesday, when Elder saw his students out in different towns campaigning to save their school.

Antrim resident Pete Burwen drove around what he referred to as the “Vote ‘No’ mobile” to different towns in the district. On Wednesday, Burwen wrote in an email to the Ledger-Transcript that he was delighted to see so many people show an interest, especially to save a community asset.

“This was truly communities coming together, and I could feel the pulse of this on the street everywhere I went,” Burwen wrote. “I want to thank all of the ‘vote NO team,’ our communities, voters, and people I met new and old who poured their hearts and souls into this campaign.”

Whether or not Elder thinks the community will have to go through this process again next year, he said that there’s only one thing the school’s students and staff can do.

“As far as next year goes, we can only offer the fact that we’re going to be the best middle school we can be. That’s our best response to that,” Elder said.

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