An act of vandalism at Windsong Heights School has brought the school and community together in solidarity against intolerance.
At some point on May 23, a vandal used spray paint to write racial and homophobic slurs on the brick exterior of the building. The derogatory words were discovered the following morning.
According to a statement from Rocky View Schools (RVS), the public school division’s maintenance department was alerted to the incident over the weekend and a graffiti removal company was hired to remove the grafitti May 26.
“Vandalism is such an irresponsible act that not only demands unnecessary dollars to be spent, but also detracts from the fine reputation of our schools, students and staff,” RVS said.
Following the incident, Penny Beaudry, the school's principal, wrote a letter to parents.
“One person’s intolerance, racism and ignorance has shaken me and if you know me well, I am a processor and need think time," Beaudry wrote. "Our school motto is ‘We are one.’ We all belong, we are a community and we support our pack.”
Beaudry letter invited Windsong residents to use chalk to leave positive messages and drawings on the sidewalks surrounding the school in a demonstration of the community's solidarity.
“Come for a walk and as a family, leave a message on the pathways and sidewalks that rises [above] the intolerance of one person,” she said.
The neighbourhood responded quickly to Beaudry's invitation. Once the grafitti was removed, somebody drew six rainbow-coloured hearts with sidewalk chalk in its place. On cement surfaces around the school, more messages like "love conquers all," "no hate just love" and "words hurt!" were scrawled in bright colours, alongside more hearts, flowers and peace signs.
According to Beaudry's letter, RCMP was informed about the incident. Airdrie RCMP did not respond to a request for comment before press time.
RVS is encouraging anyone with information about the incident to step forward and call Airdrie’s RCMP at 403-945-7200, or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.