Saint Paul school playground torched by urchins


Sounds like something Sisyhpus would have written in a fit of spite.

It took Saint Paul's Crossroads Elementary School three years of saving spare nickels and dimes to workup the scratch to install a playground worth monkeying around on. This morning, early arrivals to the school found it torched in a tangle of melted plastic.

From the Strib report:

"The flames were quite high," (Principal Celeste) Carty said. "My first reaction was to make sure there were no kids around." The kids were safe, but the school lost half the playground equipment. The value of the melted and destroyed stuff, including two slides, was estimated to be $105,000. And insurance won't pay for it because the school district's deductible is $250,000.

That's raffle ticket and candy bar money, people. And while the school brass sweats the price ticket, the ultimate loss is that the very kids who went door-to-door to raise the money don't have so much as a curly queue slide or a single monkey bar to show for it.

The unkindest cut is the suspected firebugs responsible-- the police are on the lookout for suspects ages 8 to 12.  Do grade schoolers even have school pride, and the resulting inter-school rivalry? Was it an inside job? So far, a lot of the details are being kept under wraps. But we can't help but picture a gang of marauding young firebugs torching rival schools' rigs like a band of initiates rushing a fraternity.

Well, you're never too young to learn about the futility of struggle. And that's just the lesson being imparted to the student body of Crossroads Elementary. As any grown-up knows, trying is the first step towards failure. With any luck, the hard working, idealistic students of Crossroads Elementary will never try again.