A large group of parents and residents from around Windermere Boulevard Elementary School turned out Tuesday night to support the school in the wake of racist graffiti being found on some playground equipment.
The graffiti was found late Monday afternoon and was cleaned up as soon as the racist markings were reported to the school district. It prompted community members and school administrators to decide on a show of support for the school and the surrounding community on the edge of the Buffalo city line.
The school and the neighborhood are very diverse. Co-principal Julie Flanagan said there are flags for 40 countries inside, reflecting the student population.
Flanagan said the playground, with its large swaths of green grass and the modern swings and slides, is an attraction to the community.
"We love our playground. We want all the children to come here and feel safe and feel accepted," she said. "We stress unity. We want it to be a safe place for kids and families to come and be very welcoming for everyone. We hope that it's utilized a lot in the community and that people know that this is a wonderful place to come with your children."
"We are so proud to be part of the Windermere community," said Co-Principal Mary Lavin. "It's an incredibly diverse, energetic and respectful school. Our school and our district, Amherst Central, is proud and thrilled to serve all the families that come to us."
Amherst School Superintendent Anthony Panella said the school district's diversity is a strength.
"We do have a very diverse school district. We pride ourselves on that," said Panella. "We believe our kids are accepting and respectful of all kids and it's unfortunate that there was some vandalism here yesterday, but I think when you see administrators from all of our buildings here and you see parents and students all together and in support and against these actions, you really get a sense of the kind of community you're dealing with here."
During the event, children were running around, paying little attention to the adults, except for those who seemed to block the way to the playground equipment.