An era has passed into history with the closing and impending demolition of the New Glasgow Junior High School.
But clear, bright memories remain of the junior high school and the adjoining buildings that housed the former senior high school.
Tributes have poured in regarding the special place, school spirit and exceptional teaching staff formed such an integral part of the schools’ life, from the opening of the senior high school building in 1931 to the junior high school’s opening some two decades later.
That is what is making the buildings’ demise harder to bear as room is made for a new Primary to Grade 8 school on the same site.
The sentiments are no different for people like Anse MacDonald, who grew up in Sydney before moving to New Glasgow and raising a family that included two sons who played on the school’s varsity boys’ basketball team.
MacDonald especially regrets losing the gym, which he considers the finest and most solid ones around.
“It’s sad we have to let the gym go too,” he said. “It’s a community gym, but now it’s a different ball game.”
MacDonald has been a consistent booster of high school basketball, especially boys’ basketball, since his sons, Brent and Bruce, graduated and proceeded with their adult lives.
He keeps in touch with subsequent graduates of the high school and the basketball teams.
His connection with basketball sustained itself over the years as commissioner of the seasonal men’s basketball leagues.
One of the last events in the NGJHS gym was the championship game in the 2012 men’s spring league June 17, and now the desire and the venue for a summer league appears in doubt.
The Temperance Street Elementary School gym has been considered, if arrangements can be made to open and lock up the facility for the league teams that play.
MacDonald is not worried about a fall league once the teams know where they will be playing.
“Whether we have a summer league has not been determined, but there will be a fall league alright,” he said.
NGHS sports, the famed green and white school colours and the Panthers manicure have enjoyed a high profile with the New Glasgow schools’ closure.
A book compiled and presented by Clint Dickson with assistance from Corey Hartling now graces the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame. It chronicles the high school’s rich hockey history that coincides remarkably with the 31-year reign of the late John Brother MacDonald and the many teams he coached while he taught physical education there.
Almost from the beginning, New Glasgow High School combined academic and athletic excellence.
New Glasgow High School’s history can be traced through its existence in a series of buildings from 1864 in a synopsis composed by 1937 graduate Doris Johnson to help celebrate the school’s 75th anniversary in 1939.
It includes the stunning achievement 75 years ago of a NGHS track and field team of seven athletes and coach Harold Smith when it captured the Canadian championships in Calgary, Alta.
It was the first time a Maritime contingent had been sent to the event, Johnson noted.
“Thus, it was not only a local honour, but also a Maritime honour as well, when the local high school team won highest honours and carried the title of Canadian champions home with them,” Johnson wrote.
The track team consisted of John McCormick, Vernon MacDonald, Herb Mills, Murray MacLeod, Bob “Ace” MacDonald, Lawson Smith and Bill Moore.
Smith, who coached the team from 1936 to 1939, overcame a major obstacle for the team to allow it to compete in Calgary.
The grade 12 provincial exams were scheduled for the same time as the national competition, but Smith successfully lobbied the Nova Scotia School Board Association and Premier Angus L. Macdonald, permitting the team members to receive graduation certificates based on their performance over the school year.
The team was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Pictou County Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.
“Only war and adulthood could stop them,” a capsule beside a photo of the team reads at the county hall of fame.
Two of the athletes, MacLeod and Smith, were killed in the Second World War.