TUCSON, Ariz. — Vandals broke into Manzo Elementary, stole hundreds of dollars of equipment, and killed 100 pounds of fish students had been raising. The principal says they're going to have to rebuild the special outdoor program from scratch.
Manzo has won awards for being green. They have lots of outdoor labs including the aquaponics program.
“We pump that water into the garden beds, the vegetation loves it because it is nutrient rich,” said Principal Steven La Turco. “They give off more oxygen into the water and we pump that water back to the fish and the fish are also happy so it is a symbiotic system.”
Students do all the work and take what they grow to the Manzo Market.
“Every time we have a harvest we sell organically grown fish to the community members, we sell onions, chilis, cabbage.”
But this weekend La Turco says vandals broke in and killed 100 pounds of fish.
“The smell was horrible,” he said. “We could smell it 25 feet away.”
Fish were thrown on the ground, pierced with a pitchfork, and the water tank was plugged up with entire bags of food.
“It suffocated the fish yes, and the plants.”
The school filed a police report, is working on clean-up and adding security. La Turco says he hopes he can explain what happened to the students.
“To explain this to the kids, some of the realities of a setback and how do you get back from a setback and how do you move forward some of those lessons in life you have to teach kids. Not everything is always rosy. There are some obstacles we have to overcome sometimes.”
La Turco says he believes the same people came back last night breaking a window and causing more damage. The school was also vandalized around the same time last year.
He says the Tucson-based Animal Defense Council is offering $500 for information leading to the arrest or conviction of the person or persons who vandalized Manzo.
You can donate to help rebuild the aquaponics program. The school asks you to put “Manzo Greenhouse Recovery” in the comment section after clicking on the link.