WARREN, NJ - What started as a simple rescue mission turned into an impromptu science lesson on the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly for first graders at Angelo L. Tomaso School.

During a recent recess, students and teacher Mary Balkonis noticed caterpillars enjoying a meal on milkweed, among the varied plant life in the outdoor classroom. Worried that hungry birds would make a meal of the caterpillars, the group rescued 10 of the crawlers, providing them haven in a netted enclosure and plenty of fresh milkweed leaves.

It wasn’t long before caterpillars became chrysalises. Not long after that, the Monarch butterflies began to emerge in all their bright orange and black splendor.

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“One caterpillar got out and formed a chrysalis on the underside of a table [in the classroom,]” says Balkonis. When the Monarch showed its colors, Balkonis “used sugar water to coax the butterfly back to the enclosure.”

On Sept. 26, giddy first graders in Elena Marinello’s class joined Balkonis in releasing the

Monarchs into the skies outside of ALT.

 

Photo Credit: Warren Township Schools

PHOTO 1 - A Monarch butterfly spreads its wings in preparation for release on Sept. 26, part of an impromptu science lesson for first graders at Angelo L. Tomaso School.
PHOTO 2 - ALT first grader Blake Tuttle uses sugar water to make friends with a Monarch butterfly, as he and his classmates release the butterflies on Sept. 26.

PHOTO 3 - ALT first grader Alessandra Purpora is all smiles as she prepares to release a Monarch butterfly on Sept. 26.
PHOTO 4 - ALT teacher Mary Balkonis and first grader Anish Bhavanasi admire the black and orange splendor of a Monarch butterfly on Sept. 26, part of an impromptu science lesson on the lifecycle of the Monarch.

PHOTO 5 - A Monarch butterfly spreads its wings and s