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First-graders vent about bear vandals

by MAUREEN DOLAN
Staff Writer | April 29, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - Last week's attack on Woodrow B. Grizz, the 9-foot carved wooden bear on Harrison Avenue, spurred a flurry of letters to the editor of The Press.

A stack of them arrived from a group of citizens the newspaper seldom hears outrage from - first-graders.

Students in Cathy Bayes' class at Bryan Elementary School were so upset by the news that someone took a saw to their beloved bear, that the 6- and 7-year-olds put No. 2 pencils to paper and expressed themselves.

"I read the article and I feel really, really mad and sad that the Bryan bear's legs are cut a little," wrote Jessica Orr. "I want it to sit peacefully forever ... I love that bear. Without it, it is not Bryan Elementary any more."

The bear is the school's mascot, and the chain saw art grizzly stands on a stump guarding the field next to the school on Harrison Avenue.

Members of the city of Coeur d'Alene's parks department discovered last week that vandals had taken a saw to both ankles of the bear.

The city maintains the field where the bear stands.

After learning the news, the class took a walk outside to observe the damage.

"We talked long and hard about our obligation to make the community aware of our feelings," Bayes said.

Bayes explained to the children that one thing they can do as citizens is write letters to the newspaper.

Young Connor Waddell penned that he is "very mad" and "very sad."

"I think that it is a mean thing to do," Connor wrote. "Leave our property alone. That bear is the most fantastic carved bear I have ever seen."

Bayes said many of the students wrote that they think the perpetrators should go to jail.

"They were more upset because that's officially school property, and they learn to respect school property," Bayes said.

"I'm mad. My friends are mad. It hurts me so much that people are trying to cut down the bear," wrote Julia Lovell.

The public art, created by Jeff May, was installed in 2004 and cost the city roughly $500.

The parks department is planning to reinforce the statue so it doesn't fall over.

There are no leads in the city police department's investigation into the incident.

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