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Gone With The Wind: Butterflies at PCN

Gone+With+The+Wind%3A+Butterflies+at+PCN

Excitement rings through the air as the 2nd graders of Dennis Elementary gather around to release Monarch Butterflies for this upcoming summer season. One kid, a couple feet away from the release cage, calls out to his departing friends: “Bye Christiano Ronaldo! Bye John Cena! Bye The Rock!” (these being the epithets the kids have given each butterfly). On the other side of the fences, the 5th graders line up, eager to release the butterflies stored in their own cages. Both classes took care of their caterpillars and chrysalises throughout the school year and finally get to see them all take flight.

 

Dedicated in 1991, the Outdoor Classroom serves Putnam City North’s Botany and Environmental Science classes. This year marks Putnam City North’s 2nd time hosting the butterfly release, now that the Outdoor Classroom has been restored in the past few years. 

 

Next, the 3rd graders from Will Rogers come in to release their own butterflies. The routine is simple: open the cage, latch a butterfly onto a teacher’s finger if necessary, and watch them soar into the April-chilled winds. As they open the lock to one cage, a few butterflies refuse to leave. As a teacher attempts to tap one monarch out in the air, it flits onto a student’s dress, seemingly content in the fabric. After a couple moments of fussing, the butterfly is released, floating upon the wind. More join the first, dancing around each other and ascending like paper lanterns. Instead of watching the dancing flies, a few students admire the mottled flowers around them. The classroom is awash with pinks, whites, and purples of spring bloom. The wind whips the sweet smell of clovers around all attendants of the event. While the adults seem lulled watching the Monarch’s traverse, the kids are giddy, hooting and hollering at their buggy friends’ departure.

After the class is directed into a straight line, a Putnam City North student emerges with something in her hands— a cocoon! It gets handed off to Ms. Kirby, who inspects it for damage. It hadn’t hatched before the spring release, so after a few ‘ooh’s and ‘ahh’s from the students and faculty, it got handed off to another person— a PCN student named Maddilyn Rhoades— to allow it more time to hatch. Rhoades takes it to the far end of the flower field, by the intersection of the fence, shielded away from any foot traffic. It is an ideal place for a late-bloomer.

In comes the next class, Will Rogers kindergarten, a bright bunch of young minds. One kid gleefully states that they’re a “part of nature!”rousing a delighted laugh from the teenagers scattered around. As they  pass into the field, they are as orderly as a squadron, but with bubbling smiles on their faces. The release is just as smooth, with the butterflies floating down onto the lush pink flowers beneath the class. As they file out of the field, one teenage helper— Leilani Smith— encourages them each with high fives, while others around cheer and grin their way.

One last class comes and goes before the end of the day, being met with equal excitement from the children and teens. High-fives and fist-bumps are shared between the ages, and even with the faculty at hand. As the day wraps up, Ms. Kirby, Ms. Lutz, and their main helpers— Brookelynn Tate, Cole Wiggley, Maddilyn Rhoades, and Tamari Bowen— clean up the operation and ensure the safety of the remaining butterflies. The event was an overwhelming success, with more Monarch Butterflies in the wild than the day before.



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