Summit Elementary Students "blossomed with the butterflies" according to fifth grade teacher Ann Tackett.
Students recently got to observe and interact with the life cycle of monarch butterflies. They researched, watched, measured and journaled, Tackett said.
During the process, students dug in the dirt, spread straw, and found caterpillars.
"They have done it all, I have just guided them," she said.
The class took on the project and made it their own.
"They've really been in to it," Tackett said. "I've seen cooperation going on, kids that kind of hang back...they were excited."
One student found that monarchs have 12,000 eyes, see in color, but have poor eyesight.
The excitement in the classroom was evident and each student could tell you something interesting about the process. Leland Huff liked "being able to watch them hatch" while McKenzie Hupp loved to watch them fly around in their little corner of the classroom. "It was pretty," she said.
Drek Locklear's favorite part was, "going outside and looking at the milkweed to see if there's any caterpillars on it," he said.
Their excitement didn't stay within the bounds of the assignment. Tackett would find little butterflies with facts on them or butterflies with a sucker on her desk. They went above and beyond what was required of them, Tackett said.
Over 50 monarchs flew around the classroom this year, but the class favorite was Fat Patty.
"We had this specific caterpillar that was really fat and we called it Fat Patty. Well, to find out, it was a boy...so we had to call it Fat Pat," said Logan Roach.
Every day with the monarchs was a new adventure. One day Tackett found a chrysalis that was oozing. She knew it wasn't going to make it and a learning opportunity presented itself. With the whole class watching she cut open the chrysalis to see what was inside. "The caterpillar had completely liquified," Tackett explained.
The students are still excited and are proud of what they learned. Whether is was cutting open the chrysalis, harvesting caterpillars or measuring their growth, every student learned and experienced the life of a monarch. The project ended when the class took all the butterflies outside and released them, so they could migrate to Mexico for the winter.
Students at Summit Elementary have been interacting with monarch butterflies since the early 2000's when now retired teacher Sheila Turner began bringing the butterflies into the classroom. It's been over 10 years since the inaugural year for the monarchs and the project has grown every year.
"I'm hoping I fostered in them, what Sheila fostered in me," Tackett said.
Though Turner is retired, she is still involved with the monarch program she began.
"Every now and then she comes in and we'll go out and check the flower bed. It's still her love," Tackett said.
The evolution of the project continues as Tackett works towards getting a registered monarch station for the classroom.
She credits Turner with everything, the idea for the project, getting her involved and instilling a love for the butterflies in her.
"It was her dream...I just try to fulfill that for her," Tackett said.
You can read this story and see photos online. Butterflies