By Emily Friedrich
It was a community effort to clean up the extensive damage to the two vandalized schools in Monmouth. It was an especially large undertaking for Immaculate Conception, the small parochial school, which had to close its doors on Monday. It took a small army of thirty workers from a disaster restoration service out of Chicago along with the Immaculate Conception crew to make the building safe enough for students on Tuesday. MRHS was able to have a quick enough turnaround time to open doors on Monday.
The damage to the two schools vandalized over the weekend was extensive. Police and school officials say that tens of thousands of dollars worth of property were destroyed at the two schools. Over half of the computers at Immaculate Conception were ruined, many of which were brand new. The MRHS auditorium was awash in chemicals, as the vandals discharged fire extinguishers. 560 chairs in the auditorium had to be individually scrubbed down.
Middle school teacher Teri Bruner says she feels personally violated. “That’s what makes you feel so vulnerable when something like this has happened. I feel like I’ve been hit in the stomach just as hard as can be.”
MRHS Principal Jeff Bryan says the incident has bigger implications for the community. “You don’t hear kids say look what they did to the school, it’s look what they did to our school.” He understands just how personally the students and community are taking it. “They want whoever’s done it to get caught.”
Both schools are in the process of replacing valuable items, but each expressed it’s not the material items that count. “We’re going to be okay. We can replace the things that were damaged. No one was hurt and those are the important things,” said Bruner. Her goal is to make sure her students still feel comfortable at school. “We want them to feel safe. We want to acknowledge that we have had a tragedy and something happened, but we’re going to be okay because of that in spite of what occurred. We want them to know that things that were damaged were things and not people.”
Among the items that are replaceable, Bryan says it’s the sentimental items that cannot be replaced are what hurts the most. He was not surprised at how many people called the High School inquiring about the well-being of the 1983 state football championship trophy. “I really feel like of all the things a vandal can do, to damage the kid’s trophies, you’re asking to get caught.”
No arrests have been made so far, but the Monmouth Police Department is following leads. Local authorities were able to collect forensic evidence like fingerprints from some of the trophies at MRHS and footprints at ICS. Bryan is optimistic. “Somebody will start talking about it and bragging. Some kids will hear about it, and they’ll tell us about it.”