Students who vandalized Kansas school's band room identified as grade schoolers

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A mellophone damaged when vandals tore through the Pretty Prairie USD 311 music room over the weekend.  Monday, April 15, 2019, it lays surrounded by other debris scattered throughout the room during the attack. A mellophone damaged when vandals tore through the Pretty Prairie USD 311 music room over the weekend. Monday, April 15, 2019, it lays surrounded by other debris scattered throughout the room during the attack.
Anjeanette Ramirez takes a moment Monday to survey the damage vandals left behind over the weekend. Anjeanette Ramirez takes a moment Monday to survey the damage vandals left behind over the weekend.
Anjeanette Ramirez and Evan Koch begin the long process Monday of cleaning up the mess vandals left behind over the weekend.  They're trying to salvage as much as possible, but much is damaged beyond repair. Anjeanette Ramirez and Evan Koch begin the long process Monday of cleaning up the mess vandals left behind over the weekend. They're trying to salvage as much as possible, but much is damaged beyond repair.
Practically every drum head has a hole in it somewhere.  Koch says this is easily reparable, however. Practically every drum head has a hole in it somewhere. Koch says this is easily reparable, however.
Also broken through, the window separating Koch's office space from the general music room.  The window and possibly a doorframe will have to be replaced.  In the foreground, a photo of the high school marching band performing in a parade. Also broken through, the window separating Koch's office space from the general music room. The window and possibly a doorframe will have to be replaced. In the foreground, a photo of the high school marching band performing in a parade.
PRETTY PRAIRIE, Kan. (KAKE) -

Three of the students accused of vandalizing a Kansas school's music room, causing up to $75,000 in damage, are between the ages of 8 and 11, the Reno County attorney says.

The Hutch Post reports Reno County Attorney Keith Schroeder said he has only received a brief narrative of what happened and he's only been told about three suspects whose ages are 8, 10 and 11.

“I can’t comment too much on the case because it involves juveniles,” he said.

Damage to the Pretty Prairie High School music room, which could top the $75,000 mark, happened between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Saturday. Four students were caught on video entering the school and damaging the band room.

Paint was thrown across the floor, walls and over equipment. Most, if not all, the drums had holes punched in them. A fire extinguisher also was used to damage a van, the Reno County Sheriff's Office says. 

Former student at Pretty Prairie High trying to help after vandalism

Schroeder told The Hutchinson News that because of their ages, the cases may have to be handled as civil “Child in Need of Care” filings, rather than through juvenile criminal actions. That also means the school may have to pursue civil action against the families of the students to recover damages.

Four students have been suspended, the district superintendent confirmed Tuesday. 


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The Pretty Prairie school district says it has suspended the four students who are believed to be responsible for tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the high school's music room.

Superintendent Randy Hendrickson confirmed the news Tuesday morning. The school says the students got into the room and trashed it.  

The Reno County Sheriff's Office says the damage, which could top the $75,000 mark, happened between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Saturday. Paint was thrown across the floor, walls and over equipment. Lutz says most, if not all, the drums had holes punched in them. A fire extinguisher also was used to damage a van.

Hendrickson said the vandals were caught on security camera. The investigation is ongoing, and no one was immediately arrested. 

GoFundMe has been created to help buy new instruments. It has raised more than $2,800 as of early Tuesday afternoon.

The Associated Press contributed to this update.


"It's pretty gut wrenching," said Evan Koch, band teacher at Pretty Prairie USD 311 Middle and High School.

Vandals broke into the school's music room, leaving a big mess and heartbreak. 

As the small school district tries to figure out how much damage vandals did to its music program, offers of help are pouring in from across the state.
It's what the superintendent calls possibly the most important lesson of the year for students.

Monday found Evan Koch and Anjeanette Ramirez picking up scattered papers, bits of broken musical instruments, and pieces of band uniforms, many of them spattered with the same red and blue paint that's now splashed across the walls.

"A lot of percussion instruments, a lot of the drum heads were punctured," Koch said.  "We also lost three baritones,a mellophone, and our Clavinova piano is pretty much totaled."

The school says multiple minors got into the room and trashed it.  The Reno County Sheriff's Office says the damage happened between 1:00 am and 3:00 am Saturday.

"Fire extinguishers were discharged on the building and inside of a recently purchased van that belonged to the school," said Captain Steve Lutz with the Reno County Sheriff's Office.  "Both in the band room and in the van, items within had been thrown around. Although it is going to take a bit to see what, if anything, has been stolen, we believe items have been taken."

The school's superintendent, Randy Hendrickson, says security cameras installed last fall caught the vandals entering the room and they have turned that information over to the sheriff's office for the criminal investigation.

All told, the damage could top the $75,000 mark.

"I cannot figure out how this goes in there," Koch said as he tried to close a case around a damaged horn.  

"It  doesn't anymore," Ramirez told him as she threw away more trashed music sheets covered in paint.

Their hope is to rescue any instruments or supplies still salvageable, before letting anyone else in the room to help with a general clean-up.  Even the carpet will need to be replaced.

"But overall, as we've been kind of exploring and looking around, it's not quite as bad as it looks," Koch said.

That's the overall positive attitude teachers are trying to maintain as an example to the students in a real life lesson on how to handle setbacks.

"They are angry and that's a normal response," Hendrickson said about the students.  "As adults in the building, we're trying to take the stance that we're the example.  That this is a life lesson.  That bad things happen.  Sometimes you don't understand it.  It''s out of your control.  So how can we be a great example of how to overcome that in life?

This incident comes at about the worst time possible for a school band.

"We have a concert next Monday.  They have a contest coming up.  They've worked hard all year," Hendrickson said.  "And, not that there's ever a good time for this to happen, but this is certainly a very bad time for this to happen."

The reaction in the community, one such example for the students.  Already, offers of help from near and are pouring in.

"We've had an outpouring of support from across the state, from individuals, from alumni, from colleges and universities, other schools.  It's been tremendous," he added.  "I just got a message from a school in Oklahoma that heard about it.  I was amazed at how this took on a life of its own."

In that outpouring of help, a GoFundMe account to raise money for replacement instruments.

While help is coming, the district doesn't expect to have enough instruments for the Middle School Band to play it's concert next Monday.  The choir will have to perform alone.  

"Yeah, let's recycle that pile," said Koch pointing to a pile of papers somehow still wet two days after the vandalism.

He's well aware of all the teachable moments coming from this crime, especially the importance of community embodied in a school music program.

"Just talking to the kids. it's a really important part of what it means to be in this community," Koch said.  "It's integral to this community."

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