Penelope Anne Cole
Penelope Anne Cole enjoys writing children’s stories to be read aloud. “Reading to children is the best way to help them love literature.” Ms. Cole has taught and tutored at every grade level, K to 12, and community college. She also reviews children's books. When not writing or reviewing children’s books, Ms. Cole enjoys dog walking, reading, gardening, church, and choir activities. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a member of the California Writers Club: Fremont Area Writers, SF Peninsula Writers, and South Bay Writers, and is a Reading Therapist with Read America. Ms. Cole reviews books at
See reviews of Ms. Cole's books at
Her website is www.penelopeannecole.com
Contact Ms. Cole for School Author Visits, locally in-person, or by SKYPE.
Sunday, May 4, 2014
Monday Madness on Sunday - A Horrible Incident
This post comes with a disclaimer, a caution, a warning: Graphic Material: Parents take note.
A week ago, while we were blithely enjoying our last weekend in April (a very long month), three elementary age boys went to our neighborhood high school and vandalized it. They went not once or twice, but three times that weekend. What they did no one should have to see. Although I don't know the order of their rampage, I will start with what impacted my daughter and me personally.
My daughter and I are members of the Dads, Moms, and Grads Booster Club. We raise money for school programs that have little or no school funding, such as: athletic tournament fees, sports camps, field trips, sports equipment, and scholarships. We make money through selling food at the football snack bar, and the girls softball tournament snack bar, races, and collecting entrance fees at games and tournaments, plus memberships fees. Our labor is donated and some of the food and snacks are also donated. We have lifetime members who come out year after year. This past year we were fortunate to get new cabinets and cupboards, plus new fridges. We worked hard, painted and cleaned the Snack Shack till it was a bright, clean, "nearly new" place for the benefit our cause: we do it for the students. Our high school football Snack Shack was vandalized by those three young boys.
They broke in, threw glass coffee carafes against the walls, exploded soda cans all over, threw raw eggs everywhere, broke into whatever supply cabinets they could get into. In short, they all but destroyed our beautiful
refurbished snack bar inside - and contaminated all of our supplies of candy, sodas, water bottles, sports drinks, chips, and condiments. (The above image is from Google. I was told the actual scene was much, much worse.)
Everything went into the dumpster and the interior had to be power-washed clean. All new supplies will have to be obtained, and put away. It was an unimaginable mess that was done not by high or middle school students, but by elementary students. Was it in anger? In the spirit of adventure? An adrenalin rush of "do your worst, and I can beat your worst?" What went through the minds of these kids? And how were they able to go three times over the weekend (at night)?
The also broke into the Auto Shop yard, jumped on cars, pulled wires, and broke whatever they could break or damage.
But the most tragic thing they did was break into the science garden area where pet chickens, bunnies, and a duck were housed. Four chickens, a bunny, and the duck were slaughtered. Killed. Murdered. I won't go into graphic details (because I chose not to hear the horrific facts --but they may have been tortured.) What do you say to the high school science students and the science teacher, (who had raised these animals from babyhood) -- those who were first on the scene and saw the carnage? Was it personally aimed at that teacher and those students? How can you explain this wanton destruction of innocent life?
Where were the parents of these kids while they were on their rampage? The boys were taken to Juvenile Hall where they were released to their parents' custody. Hopefully, they will be disciplined -- what could possibly be appropriate consequences for their actions? The children should receive appropriate therapy -- clearly they need mental health services. And the parents -- they need counseling, and perhaps parenting training as well. The parents have been "billed" for the damage. However, if these are low income parents, possibly working on the weekend while their kids were out vandalizing, where will the money come from to compensate for the damages. How do you "replace" a pet bunny, duck, and chickens? How do you rehabilitate these boys? How do you "erase" or mitigate what they did?
I admit I wanted those boys to suffer as the students, teachers, administrators, and Booster parents suffered when they found what they'd done. However, as I worked through my shock and horror, and sense of personal violation -- my tears and grieving for those animals, the teachers and students who found them -- then I had to reevaluate what happened. I needed a week to think about it.
Where were the parents? Perhaps living their lives. Perhaps working more than one job to provide for their families. Maybe they were taking a day off -- goofing off. Were they irresponsible parents? Were they neglectful parents? Were they single parents? Were their kids unsupervised? Or did the boys just sneak out and do this for fun, to punish their parents, to make a statement, or for whatever reason or no reason?
I may never know about the kids' motivation -- maybe they just didn't think or did it all in fun and the animals were killed by accident. But I hope the parents are shocked into doing something to make sure this never, ever happens again. I also hope those boys are banned from our school district. I hope they move away, far away from us.
Tags: Vandalism, wanton destruction, youth offenders, child vandals.