May 6, 2010

Vandals smash glass but not spirits

Late on Friday, April 23, Monmouth-Roseville High School and the Immaculate Conception School in Monmouth, Ill. were broken into and vandalized. The damage both schools incurred totaled tens of thousands of dollars. However, no one was injured.

“I felt very violated for myself and for my students,” said Terry Bruner, a teacher at ICS. “That someone from our community would come in and do this to our school … it was like I was hit in the gut.”

At ICS, vandals smashed a window and entered a computer lab, where they poured hand sanitizer over the computers. The school’s milk was poured onto the floor and meat in the kitchen was left out to rot. Although a full damage estimate has not yet been completed, officials say that $20,000 worth of damage was done to the computers alone.

A fortunate coincidence saved ICS from further computer damage. The school had just received 68 new computers as part of a UnitedHealth HEROES grant. The afternoon before the vandalism occurred, the computers had been transferred from ICS to Monmouth College for programming, saving them from the vandals.

At Monmouth-Roseville, the vandals ignored food in favor of smashing the trophy cases. Local suppliers had to order extra glass to replace all that was broken. Fire extinguishers were also discharged into student lockers.

Due to massive cleanup efforts by students, staff and the community, Monmouth-Roseville was able to reopen for school on the following Monday. The vandalism at ICS was so extensive that a professional cleaning crew from Chicago was called in. Thanks to their help, classes only had to be canceled for one day.

“This event led to oneness. We feel support from all walks of life in the community,” said Friar Anthony Bernas, pastor at the Immaculate Conception Parish.

On the Saturday following the vandalism, a few students held a vigil outside Monmouth-Roseville with Principal Jeff Bryan to express their solidarity. Bryan said he heard students referring to the vandalism as occurring at “our” school. Many students have also joined anti-vandalism groups on Facebook and posted statements conveying their shock and anger.

“One of our counselors has a Facebook presence,” he added. “She said [that] the kids have really come together after the incident.”

Police in Monmouth currently have no main suspect but are following up on several leads. Anyone with any information is encouraged to call either Monmouth Police Department at (309) 734-8383 or the Warren County Crimestoppers at (309) 734-9393.

Anna Meier

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