Kids turned out to thank the cops and firefighters who cracked the case in the torching of a beloved Roslindale school playground.
‘It’s not too often you get a thank you in life. If we had a little more of this in society today, I think we’d be a better place,’ a beaming Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn told dozens of students at the Charles Sumner Elementary School, where the parking lot playground was intentionally set on fire last month.
Little of the jungle-gym remains save for warped, melted plastic on scorched earth. The Sumner community has rallied with lemonade sales, online fundraising and corporate donations to raise more than $60,000 toward new equipment, a rubberized safety surface and surveillance cameras.
Police Commissioner William B. Evans said after the event one of three males facing arson charges – two juveniles and an adult – ‘came forward to one of their (school) counselors and basically owned up to it.’
Evans, whose wife is a Sumner alumna, said, ‘Fire’s scary for kids. They always hear, ‘Don’t play with matches.’ Who’s not afraid of fire? It’s troubling to these little kids and the best thing we can do is build a better and bigger playground so it’s a positive thing.’
Boston Public Schools Senior Deputy Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams said, ‘This terrible deed exposed the worst, but has brought out the very best in people, and for that we are grateful. It’s sort of sad that we have had to talk about someone harming your playground. Hopefully, when you come back in September, you’ll have a nicer, bigger, better playground.’
Several kids stepped forward to read letters they wrote for District 12 firefighters, who brought Engine 53 and Ladder 16 to the school for show-and-tell.
Isa Gonzalez, 10, said, ‘It was a good thing you came, or the whole school might have burned down! You guys are very brave. I don’t think I could do something like that … Your kindness will never be forgotten here.’
Another student, Kayla Jones said, ‘I felt sad because I made so many memories on that playground. Now, they’re all burnt up.’
Students learning about Ladder 16 pic.twitter.com/WRYXfLDs3O— Boston Fire Dept. (@BostonFire) June 7, 2016
Students learning about Engine 53 pic.twitter.com/SzsNcQzUR2— Boston Fire Dept. (@BostonFire) June 7, 2016
Firefighters and students. A scene repeated daily in schoolyards across America. pic.twitter.com/1onRucmYQ3— Boston Fire Dept. (@BostonFire) June 7, 2016