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Artwork taken by tornado returned

Posted: May 28, 2014 - 4:03pm
LINDA HICKS PHOTO  Tara Petty, an art teacher at Vilonia Elementary, surprised third grader Kaytlyn Henry with a drawing found in Floral following the April 27, tornado.
LINDA HICKS PHOTO Tara Petty, an art teacher at Vilonia Elementary, surprised third grader Kaytlyn Henry with a drawing found in Floral following the April 27, tornado.

VILONIA — A little detective work, a third grader at Vilonia Elementary School was reunited with a piece of artwork found 70 miles away due to the April 27, tornado.

Vilonia Elementary art teacher Tara Petty was contacted by her mother, Kathy, who lives in Pleasant Plains regarding a child’s drawing that was found by another child, first grader Haylee Nicole Meeks, in Floral. Kathy had seen the drawing on Facebook and decided what a coincidence it would be if it was done by a student under Petty.

Information was exchanged. Seeing the drawing, Petty knew it wasn’t one done by any of her students. The name written on the back of drawing identified the artist as Kaytyln 13. She didn’t recognize the name but she decided to do some investigating.

If it had been drawn by of the 650 or so students at the elementary teacher, Petty wanted to get it back to the owner sooner than later. Her next step was to contact her fellow teachers. She lucked up when she texted teacher Yvonne Sturdivant. She knew who Kaytlyn 13. All of her students are assigned numbers and are required to put them behind their names. Mystery solved.

As a surprise, Petty framed the drawing along with a letter from the first grader who found it and returned it to Kaytlyn last week.

During the presentation, Kaytyln turned to her teacher and said, “That’s you and me Mrs. Sturdivant. We are outside and there are hills and trees and there’s a squirrel.”

The drawing, Henry said, was at her house stored inside her backpack, hung on a hook, near the front door. When her house was destroyed by the tornado the backpack took flight. Henry said the backpack, wet, muddy and “pretty beat up,” was found but the contents were gone.

Henry, her siblings and dad, Ryan Henry, rode out the tornado inside their house. They took cover in a bathtub. It was harrowing experience, Henry said. Her dad positioned his body over the top of his children to protect them. Henry said she wrapped her legs around her dad’s feet to secure herself. She recalls the “roller coaster ride” inside the tub. It was flipped upside down and thrown around, she recalled, before coming to a rest. Asked if she was scared during the ordeal, she said, “not really. My daddy was holding me.”

A drop-off site has been set up at the Pleasant Plains Medical Clinic where Petty’s mother works. Petty makes a trip weekly and brings back items that have been found and turned in hoping to reunite them with their owners.

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