Paxton 4th Grade Students

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COLUMBIA - Ms. Schmidt’s fourth grade class at Paxton Keeley Elementary School celebrated with a pizza party Tuesday afternoon after helping recover over $700 worth of stolen equipment.

Last Thursday, the fourth grade class was at Smithton Park to remove invasive honeysuckle when the 45 sets of pruning shears, two saws and gloves were stolen. 

"We were going to Smithton Park to pick honeysuckle," said fourth grader Maggie Flagg. "It had already been scheduled once so we were a little more excited."

The fourth graders said they saw a red car circling the park while they were listening to science coordinator Mike Szydlowski. The students saw two men take a black trunk from the road, not realizing the trunk was full of the equipment.

When Szydlowski was about to start the project, he told the students the tools were in the trunk.

"Some of us said, 'Oh wait? That black one?'" said fourth grader Ayla Rowson. "That man took it and that was what we saw."

Rowson said an important part in the investigation was being a part of a Crime Scene Investigation Class at Paxton Keeley's EEE school. 

"It helped me not freak about what was going on," said Rowson.

Rowson said the fourth graders split everyone up who saw the men take the equipment so nobody's story would be influenced from hearing other student's stories.

"If witnesses hear other witnesses' stories, they will use that as a yes I saw that too," said student Campbell Long.

The information from the students was put into a Facebook post.

It was just hours later when most of the equipment was retrieved from a nearby pawn shop because of the post's information.

Szydlowski said because of the students, only about $70 worth of equipment is gone, instead of the full $700.

Although the school recovered the equipment, police have made no arrests.

The fourth graders will get to finally complete their honeysuckle project on May 21, their last full day of school. 

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