Kids vandalize charter school using rocks from 'Peace Garden'

(Kristen Hampton/WBTV)
(Kristen Hampton/WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - This isn't usually the type of headline that ends up being a Good News story.

Sunday night, five vandals wreaked havoc on the tiny Veritas Public Charter School.

They went from classroom to classroom turning over tables, smashing windows, hurling laptops and tablets through the air. They spent a great deal of time destroying things, with no clear reason why.

"It was just cruel, just to be cruel," said Assistant Head of School Mattisha Dawkins.

Staff members were devastated when they saw the destruction caused by a group of kids who appeared to be no older than 14.

"I think one of our teachers said it best, Coach Johnson, she said 'We're going to be the school that those kids who damaged our school, needed,'" Dawkins said.

The tuition-free school pours heart and soul into creating a place where diversity can flourish and kids can learn in an environment that encourages their own strengths.

Once again it raises the question, 'How can this possibly be Good News?'

Dawkins and her fellow educators are more than proud to say it's not, it's great news.

"It was a great thing for us," Dawkins said, "It built bonds with staff, families who would normally never interact with each other, bonded over this."

The event itself caused a passionate response from school staff, parents and students.

Sunday night, dozens of parents and teachers showed up to find out how they could help clean up and repair the damage.

Dozens more came together on Monday, some parents even took days off of work to come help.

Officials closed the school for the day so windows could be replaced, messes could be cleaned up, and the chaos could be pieced back into something normal for the kids.

Tuesday, the school reopened with a renewed sense of purpose. They also have a message for the kids who did the damage.

School officials offered to have the vandals come in and talk about the 'why'. Veritas encourages peaceful conflict resolution by getting to the 'root' of the problem.

"That type of violence says a lot," Dawkins said, "So what is it that you need, or what is it that you were seeking in our building? What can we give you so you don't make these same mistakes again?"

There's your answer. A school turned upside down by vandals, offering to help turn things around for the offenders.

Finding a light in a dark situation.

Making something awful, into something great.

The school took the 'kindness rocks' that were used to break windows and cemented them into a small sidewalk. It's symbolic, they say. A way to show their commitment to remaining strong during trying times.

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