Two picnic tables at Agnes Gray Elementary School in West Paris were destroyed by vandals between Aug. 14-15. Supplied photo

WEST PARIS — As if teachers and administrators do not have enough challenges as they prepare to open schools in the wake of COVID-19, staff at Agnes Gray Elementary in West Paris were greeted with vandalized property and an attempted break-in on Aug. 15.

Two picnic tables in the school yard were torn apart and a screen cut on a window of the post-and-beam exterior classroom. The building’s windows were locked, preventing the vandals from entering.

Vandals slashed the screen of a classroom window at Agnes Gray Elementary School but were unable to break in. Supplied photo

Oxford County Deputy Sheriff Brandon Tiner responded to the call. He quickly identified three juvenile suspects when the parent of one contacted the Sheriff’s Department to inform officials they believed their child was involved.

As of Monday afternoon Tiner had spoken to two of the suspects and is consulting with the Oxford County District Attorney’s office on how to proceed.

“There is no concrete evidence, no surveillance footage of what happened,” Tiner said. “The kids are pointing the finger at one another about who the culprit is.”

“It sounds like Deputy Tiner has determined who did the damage to our playground,” Clarke said. “Although I don’t have the names of those involved, I would like to invite them into school so we can have a restorative kind of conversation. I understand and respect that there will need to be legal consequences, but just as important is repairing the harm that was done to our school community.

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“It is so important that when we make mistakes, we hear from those who have been affected. Learning the impact of wrongdoings is important in the healing and forgiveness process. I am assuming that those involved come from our West Paris community. I want them to know that they are still welcome.”

New picnic tables were donated by Nancy Wilson Cushman. Western Maine Supply also delivered two picnic tables their employees built for the school. Pictured from left are Eric Liimatta, Agnes Gray Elementary School Custodian, Peter Morse and Jasmine Newman-Grover. Supplied photo

Clarke is relieved there was no damage to the outdoor classroom, which is an alternative teaching and learning space used by teachers for nature-based instruction.

“It would have been so much worse if they had gotten in,” she said. “It’s fully furnished and with computers and other equipment.”

Volunteers quickly came together and replaced the picnic tables at the school. The vandalism will have no effect on Agnes Gray reopening on Sept. 8.


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