By Julie Ann Madden
It wasn’t the book characters Curious George, the monkey; Franklin, the turtle; or Froggy, the leapfrog who went to Akron-Westfield Community School on April 16.
It was a real live deer.
Seniors Cole Oltmanns, Chet Willer, Cory Eskra and Taylor James had just arrived at school. Eskra and James were walking toward the south door while Oltmanns and Willer were walking to the main entrance on the west side of the building.
As they were walking by the American flag just south of the main entrance, Oltmanns and Willer saw four deer running among the trees outside the school.
“Three took off toward Jack Correia’s house (across Kerr Drive and onto Circle Drive south east of the school’s main entrance),” said Oltmanns. “One stood around, running in circles near the school building.”
“It just jumped right through the window,” he said.
Willer yelled at their two friends. Then he and Oltmanns ran for the main entrance and down the elementary hallway to Lisa Harris’ Kindergarten classroom.
“I didn’t know what we were going to do,” said Willer. “I was just planning to get the kids out of the classroom.”
“It was just reaction,” said Oltmanns. “There could have been kids in there. It was kind of a scary moment.”
Paraprofessional Julie Huber was walking down the hall with a student when the deer crashed into the Kindergarten classroom. She shut the door.
“The deer was running around in the classroom,” said Oltmanns. “Within a minute or two, it jumped back out the window.”
“It happened probably five minutes before the students were to come back from lunch — about 11:15,” said Kindergarten teacher Lisa Harris. “Just 10 to 15 minutes before this, there were eight kids sitting on the carpet in front of the window the deer came through.”
Harris has 19 students in her class. Eight on the carpet had finished their assignments and were reading books during their free time while the rest of the students were at the tables finishing their assignments.
“If kids had been (there), it would have been a catastrophe,” said Grades 7-12 Principal Derek Briggs who stopped by the classroom after school to see how Harris was doing with the final cleanup.
“It could have been so much worse,” said Harris as she continued to go through items destroyed by shards of glass and deer fur and blood.
She noted she’d lost about 40 books plus several student dictionaries, stuffed animals such as Clifford, the Big Red Dog and The Very Hungry Caterpillar bookworm, teddy bear bookends, a felt board and a bunch of markers. She was making a report for insurance purposes.
Harris’ class was moved to the Title I classroom for the rest of the day while professional cleaners, Service Master of Sioux City, cleaned up the majority of the mess. Title I students, which are in small groups, were taught in other areas of the school building.
The students made books about “the deer going to school.”
Harris shared some of the students’ reasons why the deer jumped into their classroom: it wanted to hear a story; it saw green inside and thought it was grass; it wanted to learn; and it’s because it got scared.
“I don’t understand why the deer did it,” said Willer. “I’ve never seen one jump through a window like that.”
“I was really surprised to even see them up by the school — especially in town,” said Oltmanns. “I think it was just being in town. Not knowing where to go. Cars driving by and people walking around. I’m sure that spooked them and they just didn’t know what to do.”
“It’s never happened before at Akron-Westfield that I know of,” said Harris, who is finishing her 27th year at A-W. “I’ve heard of other animals entering the school building. But, never a deer and never to me.”
Oltmanns didn’t think the deer who entered the school had been hurt badly.
“There was just fur everywhere,” he said. “I didn’t really see that it was hurt at all.”
“It’s a good thing all the kids were gone,” said Willer.
Briggs commended the boys for their quick thinking and willingness to take action in such a situation.
“Every day at school is an exciting day, but today was more exciting day than usual!” Grades Preschool-6 Pincipal Cathy Bobier told The Akron Hometowner.
Circle Drive Damage
Right after the deer jumped back out the window, another big crash was heard. The four seniors followed the deer to Circle Drive.
They discovered one of the deer had tried to enter Dottie and Dennis Oleson’s home through the front door at 30 Circle Drive.
“It hit the door so hard, it broke the dead bolt off the (interior front) door,” said Dennis Oleson. “It also broke the (full-length) glass of the storm door.”
Dottie was home, he said, adding she said it sounded like an explosion. When she went to check it out, she couldn’t get the door open.
“No one else (in Circle Drive) had any damage,” said Dennis. “He liked my door — it was a new door. I just bought it one-and-one-half years ago…it couldn’t have been an old door he ruined.”