By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6
BROKEN ARROW, OK -- Students, parents and teachers pour their hearts and souls into a project recently, only to have it all destroyed. Six and seven year olds who hoped to get a lesson in hard work and community spirit, instead got one in disrespect and vandalism.
Students, parents and teachers didn't see a little section of earth between buildings at Oak Crest Elementary School in Broken Arrow as a pile of dirt; they saw it as a dream.
They dreamed of a reading garden with benches and flowers surrounded by a white picket fence where kids could read and enjoy nature. They received a $5,000 grant from Lowe's and put out a call for help and they got it. Everyone worked together to turn the patch of earth into a dream come true.
But, the dream turned ugly as vandals kicked over the potted plants, knocked down benches and broke apart the picket fence.
"Truly, my children were passing by crying because they had spent time building it with me," said teacher Melissa Armstrong.
The students were so upset; they made signs and posted them along the fence, with a message for the vandals.
"Don't touch our fence, leave our fence alone. Our teacher cried," said one child.
The vandals have attacked several times in recent months, each time, the damage has gotten worse.
"Slowly, children started popping off the posts. I save them and glued them back on. Then, during the Broken Arrow snow day, middle school kids and kids in the neighborhood began breaking them off one by one where we couldn't repair them," said teacher Melissa Armstrong.
Now the kids, parents and teachers must get together again, but this time to remove the damaged fence and repair the vandalism. It's a tough lesson for little hearts.
They also plan to start a neighborhood watch program near the school and garden. They had put up a fake surveillance camera for deterrence, but the vandals tore it down, too.