Students Devastated after Vandals Smash School’s Pumpkins

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The vandalism of a pumpkin patch at Northside Elementary School in the community of Cool has not dampened the enthusiasm of kids in the student farming program. The pumpkins were found smashed on a road next to one of the school gardens.

“It wasn’t a pretty sight … I was looking forward to harvesting the pumpkins and making pumpkin pies,” said student Julia Bidstrep.

The garden program was started two years ago to help provide fresh produce for the school’s lunch program. Pumpkin pie was on the menu for this fall.

“We know it’s fresh and (something) we put hard work into,” said 6th grader Ryan Lazzarini.

Student farmer Kiyana Pitre didn’t look forward to making replacement pies.

“It’s just not the same when you make it out of a can,” said Pitre.

Principal Wendy Westsmith said the students planted the pumpkins last May and watered and tended to the garden on their own time during the summer. That made the vandalism all the more disappointing.

“This was personal, or it felt personal … to see their efforts so quickly demolished was a real struggle for them,” said Westsmith.

The destruction of the pumpkins has galvanized support from the community. Donations of pumpkins have been delivered to the school, beginning with Auburn Host Lions Club member Roy Kleger.

“It was really nice of them to donate the pumpkins. Yesterday we were moving some of the pumpkins and several of them took several people to hold, so it was really nice to see that,” said Bedstrep.

Westsmith said even though there was a misfortune, their can be a benefit to it. She notes they will now have pumpkins for the school’s Fall Harvest Festival on October 10, which will be used for the pie eating contest, seed contest and pumpkin carving contest. More donations are coming in.

“Who knows our county fair may be full of pumpkins and turn into a pumpkin festival for the whole community,” said Westsmith.

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