A thief broke into six ICS trailer classrooms this weekend, stealing electronics and food, emptying drawers, and trashing classroom files. Wielding a metal bat and wearing a ski mask, according to a student who was playing alone on campus and saw the break-in, at least one man or boy broke windows and climbed into the trailers, which house ICS's French and Spanish classes and intensive tutoring and after-school programs. The student saw the man struggling with a heavy desk, tossing electronics onto the ground outside the trailers, loading them into a truck, and speeding away.
"I wanted to tape it," the young witness said ruefully.
Missing when teachers assessed the damage Monday morning: a TV and DVD player, a laptop computer minus its cord, a computer flash drive, a small CD player, a tape recorder and microphone, less than $5 in change, a small pair of scissors, two fire extinguishers, a stash of six-month-old Butterfinger candy bars, and five bags of Xplosive
Pizza-flavored Goldfish crackers. Classrooms had been ransacked, and floors were strewn with educational games, student homework, and trampled animal crackers; some items had been carried from room to room then discarded; and shards of glass littered the floors.
Tutoring and language classes were canceled in the early morning as teachers cleaned up. Amid feelings of disgust and violation, staffers scratched their heads.
"What's the point?" asked School-Within-the-School tutoring program coordinator Cathy Smith, discarding glass-flecked toys and wiping down books. "What a stupid waste."
The school hardly even owns anything worth stealing, she said.
Next door, French teacher Nicole Tendon and after-school program coordinator Les Etienne were cleaning up Etienne's office. "It's a shame, man," he said, surveying the mess.
Tendon, whose laptop and CD player were stolen, said more than anything, she is bothered by the thief's apparent destructive motives. "I understand: You want the computer? Take it. You want the CD player? Take it...," she said. "But why do you need to trash everything?"
This isn't the first time someone has broken into ICS; the school has been robbed five times in as many years. Since August alone, vandals have shattered $700 worth of windows and destroyed a $15,000 cafeteria air-conditioning unit - apparently for the copper coils - forcing students to eat sack lunches outdoors for several weeks. "Of all the schools, couldn't they pick on one that has a little more money?" asked administrative specialist Lindsay Futterman.
When Tendon's fourth-graders arrived for French class late Monday morning, they were eager to help. Some got down to cleaning; others became detectives.
"Do you have any fingerprints?" a girl asked.
As they straightened up, Tendon taught them French phrases, which they repeated with gusto.
"Ils ont cass la fentre!" (They broke the window!), they called in unison.