Sunday, May 15, 2011
A month ago, my class began the most wonderful lesson. We put special bands on 12 trees in our school arboretum to measure tree growth over the next few years. Children in schools all around the world are participating. The project is part of a world-wide program sponsored by Shout Learning and the Smithsonian Institute, to measure the effects of climate change on tree growth around the world. We had to wait a month from the banding to take the first measurement to send to the Smithsonian. A wonderful employee of the BLM helped us identify the trees and is returning tomorrow to teach the students more about each tree as they use the special tool sent by Shout to take the initial reading. What a marvelous opportunity... or so it seemed.
I returned to the arboretum today to take a few photos and make sure everything was ready to go smoothly for our lesson only to discover that most of the tree bands had been removed. Many were destroyed and found in pieces. Some were missing altogether. The arboretum is a fenced area attached to our playground. It is locked from the school side and has a gate on the other side that leads into the yard of a senior housing complex. One of the residents of the complex was walking this morning when I made my sad discovery. She said they frequently watch older kids in the arboretum breaking branches and destroying projects placed there by scout troops and students. They have called the police, but no has ever been caught.
Several years ago, my class participated in a project to place informational signs on a nature trail in a local park. The night before the kids were to take a field trip to enjoy their finished work, we took the signs to the trail. By morning, one was missing, one was in the river, and many others were smashed and broken. I swore never to try another project like that one again.
I am saddened, angry, and disappointed. My students will be devastated. We will still have our tree lesson, but instead of taking measurements with our dendrometer, we will talk about vandalism and respect. A sad day...