Bench gets a butterfly makeover

A bench, featuring 800 hand-decorated butterflies made by students, teachers and administrators now adorns Thomas Jefferson Elementary, a tribute to the seven species of the brightly colored insects that flutter by the campus.

Parents last week unveiled the remade bench where the fritillaries and the California Sister species of butterflies have been spotted among the plants and vegetables including carrots and sunflowers that students grow each year to pay homage to the country's third president and the garden he kept.

The 18-foot-long wooden bench was built and installed in the garden last year by Nickelodeon employee Eric Swanborg, who volunteered with fellow Nickelodeon employees to beautify the school's garden where lavender, brittlebush and milkweed plants attract butterflies.

With help from parent Erica Bootchk, who came up with the bench's design, the recent makeover entailed giving the school's students clay-formed butterflies to decorate. After the clay pieces were fired in a kiln on campus, they were arranged in mosaic form to make up the bench's surface.

In the center of the bench reads a quote by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen: “‘Just living is not enough,' said the butterfly. ‘One must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.'”

Jefferson Principal Sandra De Barros, who is in her first year at the school after serving as principal of Disney Elementary for six years, said the bench would be cherished by current and future students alike.

“I had heard about the fantastic Jefferson parents,” she said. “And now I can see why.”

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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