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Cedar Park builds butterfly garden

Freedom the butterfly has returned to her home at Cedar Park Elementary. With the help of a pickup truck, she flew north from the Old Town historic district to the elementary school on Woodrow Avenue. Some things had changed while she was away, too.

With the help of a grant from International Paper, the school built a butterfly garden complete with shrubbery, a bird fountain and a bench. Freedom the butterfly, wearing wire-framed glasses, sits at the back of the triangular garden. Principal Logan Cowart said the timing was perfect for Freedom’s return.

“Freedom seemed to be just waiting for our butterfly garden to be finished,” Cowart said.

Freedom is one of 45 butterflies placed around town by the Dallas County Arts Alliance as a celebration of the arts and to enhance tourism. Each butterfly is decorated with a different theme. Since Freedom’s home is an elementary school, her theme is education. Her wings are decorated with rulers, scissors and the alphabet. Her body is wrapped with pencils, and she reads a book.

“Our children realize that education is a means for success,” Cowart said.

First-grade teacher Krystal Dozier came up with the idea for Freedom’s new home. Dozier’s fascination with butterflies began when she was a student at Edgewood Elementary School in the 1980s. At an assembly, Mallieve Breeding, or Madam Butterfly, spoke about Selma becoming the butterfly capital of the state. Breeding had Dozier’s attention from the word go.

“I just fell in love with butterflies,” Dozier said.

Her love of the winged insects came full circle Tuesday. Madam Butterfly visited the school’s new butterfly garden. She told a group of students about how she came to be known as Madam Butterfly. She also walked around the butterfly garden and sat on the bench with some of the children. Madam Butterfly said the garden would bring a sense of pride to the students at Cedar Park.

“It will make them feel closer to the school like nothing else can do,” she said.

As the group of students posed for pictures with Madam Butterfly, a small butterfly flapped up and landed on Dozier’s neck.

“Butterflies are sweet,” Madam Butterfly said. “There’s nothing to dislike about a butterfly.”

While the children love having a spot to take a break from the rigors of the classroom, the colorful butterfly is clearly their favorite aspect.

“Of course, Freedom the butterfly,” first-grader Irvin Ussin said.

Fourth-grader Jayda Armstrong said she loves Freedom the butterfly because it is unique.

“It’s special to us because it’s ours, and it looks educated,” Armstrong said.

The students helped decorate the butterfly, too. Fifth-grader Janice Jackson said that is why she is glad to have Freedom the butterfly back on campus.

“We helped make it,” she said. “It’s unique out of all the other butterflies because we used things that we use in school.”

Cowart said that outlet for creativity is just what she hoped Freedom and the butterfly garden would provide for her students.

“We really celebrate the opportunity to create the butterfly and the garden as a means of expressing the children’s creativity.”