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Queen of the monarchs

OES student Micah Dymond with her bulletin board and butterfly box. (click for larger version)
February 10, 2010 - Fourth-grader Micah Dymond is quickly becoming the resident authority on butterflies at Oxford Elementary.

The student is heading up a project studying everything there is to know about monarch butterflies.

"Because of Micah, the whole class has become experts on monarch butterflies and their migration," said her teacher Mary Kraniak. "You ask anyone in my class anything about a monarch butterfly and they'll be able to tell you."

"She's done so much work, from learning simple facts about the monarch butterfly to taking it one step deeper by going on the computer and studying the place in Mexico where they live," Kraniak noted.

Using the Journey North website (www.learner.org/jnorth), Dymond and her fellow students will be tracking the spring migration of the monarchs as they travel here from their winter refuge deep in central Mexico.

After living off their fat reserves all winter, tens of millions of monarch butterflies will head north beginning in March. With just a few weeks to live, they race to produce the next generation.

Kraniak said it's fascinating how one monarch can make the journey all the way to Mexico, but it takes several generations to get back here.

To help spread awareness about monarch butterflies, Dymond created a colorful bulletin board depicting the insect in one of the school's hallways.

In her classroom, she created a very professional-looking bulletin board that features 30 questions and answers related to the butterfly.

Next to it sits the now-famous "butterfly" box in which Dymond leaves fun monarch-related information for her classmates to learn along with activities for them to do.

"She does a lot of the work at home and then she brings it to school," Kraniak said. "One of Micah's gifts is that she's very creative and vert smart. She really enjoyed doing this for the kids."

Because monarch caterpillars will only eat milkweed plants nothing else Kraniak's class plans to distribute seeds for students to plant throughout the community. They intend to plant some around the school.

"The school yard is such a great place to plant stuff like that," she said.

Kraniak said putting Dymond in charge of this project is an example of how OES is helping to build and nurture student leadership abilities.

"We believe every student at our school has a gift and we believe it's our responsibility to bring out those gifts and have them share them with the world," she said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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