VANDALS struck in Denelthen Wood near Laurencekirk on Friday evening, attacking some of the work carried out during the week by S1 pupils from Mearns Academy.
Happily however, Mearns Academy staff and members of the Friends of Denlethen rallied round to quickly repair or replace most of the damage.
Over 120 S1 pupils were in the woods all week, working towards the discovery element of their John Muir Award. They enjoyed a series of environmental-themed lessons and planted a number of trees.
Sadly, late on Friday a member of the Friends discovered a living willow hide built by the pupils had been destroyed. In addition, 12 newly-planted trees had been broken.
The Friends member said this was a disappointing thing to happen at the end of a hugely successful week in the woods, but particularly for any child from the participants who took their family to the woods at the weekend to proudly show their live creation.
Mearns Academy rector Mr Ian Parkin spoke on the subject at assemblies.
Mr Parkin said: “This is extremely disappointing and the school will pursue this rigourously, working with the Friends of Denlethen and the police, to find out who was involved.
“Over 120 pupils took part in a superb event last week, looking at the environment and it is a terrible disappointment to see that the message has not got through to everyone.
“I am glad to say however that thanks to the efforts of staff, some pupils and the Friends of Denlethen, most of the damage has been repaired.
“The week was a tremendous experience for those involved and we will not let the vandalism detract from what has been achieved.
“Some of the pupils have spoken about their eyes being opened as to the wildlife that is so near to them. Some of the pupils had never seen deer or red squirrels, but they saw them last week.”
A Friends of Denlethen spokesman said: “It is heartening to see the results of initiatives by local schools to use the woods as outside classrooms.
“Many normal classes History, Geography, Science, Maths, English, PE were in open air classrooms focusing on how the subject relates to these local community woodlands. Apparently, results were good and clearly the children were enjoying being there.
“In stark contrast to last week’s fine weather, Laurencekirk Primary School started their woodland classes in the snow, ice and rain of winter. Regardless of the weather he results of their shelter building can be seen throughout the woods. The Primary schools from Marykirk, Auchenblae and Fettercairn also use Denlethen Woods for outdoor classes.
“The initiative for the use of community woodlands as outside classrooms is to be applauded as the influence on the children will be long term. The immediate effect is that we see an increasing new group in the woods. Young families being led by a confident youngster proudly showing what they had just made.”