Police and staff at the Nickerson Elementary School are seeking help from the public to uncover the identity of those responsible for leaving the school playground covered with broken glass sometime Thursday night, May 2.

Nickerson School Principal Abigail Hartford said school employees discovered the mess when they arrived at school early Friday morning.

“We came in to find glass absolutely everywhere,” said Hartford.

Staff also found the cardboard container for a 12-pack of Twisted Tea suspended in the basketball hoop and broken glass strewn all over the asphalt, some of which was located in the surrounding grass and among woodchips that are placed beneath playground equipment. There were also shards of glass and blood found inside the shade structure.

In a letter sent home to parents Friday afternoon, Hartford outlined how the vandalism will impact the students’ ability to use the playground for the remainder of this year and perhaps through the next school year.

“We are instituting a no sandals, flip-flops and no crocs policy out on the playground,” stated the notice. “We are sure there is glass hidden in the grass and woodchips and do not want to see any student cut.”

Hartford said while the incident has made it difficult for the students to enjoy their playground as they always have, she is glad the damage was not more extensive.

“We’re lucky there didn’t seem to be more vandalism, and that they didn’t get into the building,” said Hartford.

Hartford said Friday, the children were informed of what happened, and spent their recess time walking around the playground pointing out any glass shards to school maintenance staff, which were armed with brooms and dustpans. The youths were discouraged from touching any of the glass, said Hartford, and were asked to instead bring it to the attention of the adults on hand.

“It’s kind of disappointing,” said Hartford of the incident, noting that community volunteers have recently placed new plantings on the property and made improvements to the ball field. “There’s been a lot of nice community work done here.”

Hartford said there are usually people using the ball field until about 8 p.m. most evenings. She asked anyone who hears or sees suspicious noises or activity after that time to contact the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office and report it.

WCSO Detective Merl Reed said unauthorized people hanging around at the elementary school has been an ongoing problem in recent years.

“We have to get out behind there and kick people out of there at night,” he said. “It’s too bad they do these things at a building where young children go to school.”

Reed asked anyone with information about the vandalism to contact the responding officer, Deputy Darrin Moody, or the WCSO directly at 338-2040.