HARDING — Releasing of butterflies has been a tradition at the Sarah J. Dymond Elementary School, but this time would be the last.
The students and their teachers gathered outside the school Tuesday for the annual butterfly release, in which the students first sang a song about butterflies before taking them to the butterfly garden.
Students and faculty at the school are enjoying their last few weeks there as it is set to close at the conclusion of the school year, as Wyoming Area School Board members voted to close the school due to budget concerns.
Because of the cold conditions, the winged insects had a hard time taking flight, but the students were happy to help their little friends by holding them on their fingers or in their hands until they were ready for take off.
First-grade teacher Lisa Hogan, who has taught first grade at the elementary school for 25 years, came up with the idea for the annual butterfly release 18 years ago.
“I used to do (the butterfly release) by myself and then when we got another first-grade teacher, only first grade did it,” she said. “Then 18 years ago, the parent-teacher organization was generous enough to say they would buy butterflies for the whole school, so this is our 18th release.”
Hogan said butterflies are usually delivered to the school between early and mid-May and released later in the month, but the PTO ordered them a bit early this year.
The butterflies are still in the caterpillar stage when delivered to the school and are kept in containers, where they are given food and water.
After a few weeks, the caterpillars get bigger and eventually form a chrysalis and turn into butterflies.
Fifth-grade student Delaney Capitano has been releasing butterflies since her kindergarten days and was happy to be part of it one last time at the school.
“I think it’s cool because that’s going to be the last time we ever let the butterflies go,” the 11-year old said. “It’s just cool.”
Although the butterfly release will no longer take place at the Harding-based school, Hogan said she will continue the tradition with her first-grade students at the Tenth Street Elementary School in Wyoming, where grades one through three will be taught.
She said it’s still bittersweet she won’t be doing it at Sarah J. Dymond Elementary School.
“Not to say that we won’t be able to do it where we’re at, but it won’t be the same,” she said. “With such a small school, the whole school would do it. I don’t know if, when we all move to different schools, if the whole school will be able to do it. So, it’s the end of a great tradition.”
Not only will the students carry the memories of their beloved elementary school with them, but the butterflies will, as well.
“The butterflies are kind of like a memory for here,” said Capitano. “If you ever see one around here, they’re probably one that we released.”