Education

Who vandalized Maxwell Elementary School’s new butterfly garden?

The butterfly garden at Maxwell Elementary School in Lexington was replanted Tuesday, a day after vandals uprooted dozens of butterfly-attracting plants.
The butterfly garden at Maxwell Elementary School in Lexington was replanted Tuesday, a day after vandals uprooted dozens of butterfly-attracting plants. palcala@herald-leader.com

Maxwell Elementary PTA president Kathryn Wallingford can’t understand why someone vandalized the school’s new butterfly garden Monday night.

“In a very malicious and calculated act, someone carefully hand pulled virtually all of the 70 perennials and placed them in the center of the garden,” Wallingford wrote in a Facebook post. “None of the stakes were misplaced and the mulch was in tact.”

On Tuesday morning, Maxwell parents worked together to replant the uprooted plants. They also called Lexington police and notified Fayette County Public Schools officials.

In an interview Wednesday, Wallingford said she had no new information about a possible suspect.

“This is a very odd occurrence,” she said. “Not a random act of vandalism.”

Lexington police Sgt. Jervis Middleton, a public information officer, said Wednesday that a criminal mischief report was taken and an extra patrol was set up.

With the garden set right again Tuesday, a kindergarten class was able to use it as a classroom to learn about life cycles, Wallingford said, and Girl Scout groups planted vegetables next to the butterfly garden.

Bridget Abernathy, a parent who helped design the space, said the butterfly and pollinator garden was planted April 14 in front of the school on Woodland Avenue.

The garden is used as as an outdoor classroom and will soon be certified as a monarch butterfly waystation through the national monitoring and research organization Monarch Watch, she said.

Abernathy and Wallingford said three large spicebushes and more than 70 native perennials were bought from Michler’s Greenhouses and the University of Kentucky Horticulture Club with part of a $900 “Go Green + Earn Green” given by the school district.

Maxwell staff and district grounds and maintenance staff spent time and effort to evaluate and prepare the site for the new garden, Abernathy said. More than $500 of the school funds were used to establish the garden, and staff and familiesvolunteered many hours to design it, select plants and plant the garden.

“Maxwell families are upset and disappointed, and will not tolerate this aggressive act,” Abernathy said.

“Maxwell Elementary will continue to value and teach principles of love and kindness,” Wallingford said.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears

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