Some time between Friday night, March 19, and Sunday morning March 21, some people decided to use the outdoor classroom of the Langley Forest School in Williams Park for a party.
Later that day, Carol LaJeunesse, president of the school’s board of directors, and teacher Laureen Mahe-Klaassen were preparing to call out volunteers to help undo the damage.
“They basically went into our school and turned it upside down,” a frustrated Mahe-Klaasen told the Langley Advance Times.
“They knocked everything over that they could,” LaJeunesse remarked.
“Some of it will have to be repaired.”
Whoever was responsible left behind garbage that included discarded drinks and other evidence of a party.
“It’s emotionally devastating,” LaJeunesse commented.
“How do people do stuff like that, and not think about all the little kids?”
The school’s mud kitchen, made from donated pallets and wood, was overturned.
A backpack rack, made from branches found in the forest or donated by families, was upended and damaged as well.
Several benches were flipped off their bases.
“We are an environmental stewardship school so we don’t buy new – mostly the staff and families work hard to source fallen trees to make table slabs and stool stumps, and items that are discarded,” LaJeunesse explained.
“The kids turn them into magical play spaces with their imaginations.”
In dollar terms, the damage is not that expensive, LaJeunesse estimated, but repairing the vandalism will take many hours.
Police are investigating.
The Langley Forest School program, tucked away in a corner of Williams Park, is a partnership between the children’s parents and the Township of Langley.
Children who take part in the non-profit “play-based school” spend almost the entire day outdoors learning about nature and the environment, with the teacher and the adults in the classroom acting as research assistants.
“Children are encouraged to self-regulate, choosing to eat when they’re hungry or add or remove clothing if uncomfortable,” the website explains. “Self-reliance and resilience are fostered.”
It is the first school of it’s kind in the Fraser Valley, operating five days a week for children ages three to five.
READ ALSO: Focus on environment at the Forest School
At the moment, 80 families have children attending the school.
The yurt at the centre of the learning area escaped serious damage, and so did the shed alongside the yurt that houses a composting toilet.
Anyone in a position to help replace or repair the wood fixtures is invited to contact the school through the website at langleyforestschool.com or their Facebook page, facebook.com/langleyforestschool.
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