In 2018 the Butterfly Dome at Luling Elementary School was slated for demolition, but the hard work, dedication and tenacity of several school employees, community partners and the St. Charles Parish Women’s Club means the dome is now once again bursting with colorful flowers and fluttering new friends.
Dottie Watson, the school’s speech pathologist, approached Sam Buhler, who had just become the school’s principal the year prior, a few years ago after she learned the dome was doomed for removal in just two days. Watson’s appeal for a reprieve got a yes, but only after she had to agree to take on the task and get it moving within two weeks.
“With the help of a bunch of teachers and community people, and Hope Seller at Martin’s Nursery, and the St. Charles Parish Women’s Club, we all jumped in and helped save it,” Watson said.
Cindy Ledet said the Women’s Club has several interest groups, one of which is the Style Divas who share the interests of gardening and fashion. As the group’s chairwoman, Ledet said the Style Divas have taken on the butterfly dome as its dedicated civic project.
Every other Friday Ledet, along with group members Connie Gassen, Andree Leinweber and Darlene Mollere, visit the school to work on and beautify the dome. Ledet said they are often joined by other group members as well.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed operations of the dome, Ledet said, adding the annual community Butterfly Day that was hosted at the dome hasn’t been able to take place for the past couple of years.
“As soon as we can, we’re ready to have another one,” Ledet said. “We’ve made some new things to unroll, like a scavenger hunt in the dome for kids to look for life cycles and plant and flower characteristics … but we haven’t been able to do them yet.”
Ledet said students, however, are still able to enjoy the dome even during altered school operations because of the pandemic. In one example, teachers in 17 classrooms will soon be supplied items so that the students can grow milkweed, the host plant for the monarch caterpillar, and watch the caterpillars grow and hatch into monarchs.
“I’m so grateful to our principal, Sam Buhler,” Watson said. “The dome wouldn’t have been saved if he hadn’t have been open … that’s the kind of man he is. He’s open to us doing anything that helps our children, and it often does make more work for him. It’s been a community effort.”
Watson said thanks to United Way of St. Charles funding, as well as other grants, the dome’s success and future is more certain.
“We have funding now for plants and things we really need to make it beautiful,” she said. “We’re just very grateful that our community cares about our kids so much.”