Lab kindergartener class’ Breonna Taylor memorial defaced


Tracy Aiden

Students in teacher Tracy Aiden’s kindergarten class visit their Breonna Taylor memorial at the Masaryk Monument.

Peter Pu, News Editor

UPDATE: The memorial was defaced for a second time according to a Laboratory Schools email sent by Interim Director David Magill on Oct. 19. Teachers will help the students process the incident in the coming days. The story will be updated as new information is known.

A memorial created by kindergarten students in teacher Tracy Aiden’s class in honor of Breonna Taylor was defaced last week when someone used spray paint to cross out the signs and art the students had created and displayed outdoors, leaving the young students puzzled but determined. 

After learning about the Kentucky grand jury’s indictment of police officer Brett Hankison on Sept. 23, the students wrote “Black Lives Matter” and drew peace symbols and portraits of Breonna Taylor on signs that they posted on the Masaryk Monument on the Midway Plaisance and Blackstone Avenue, a few blocks from Earl Shapiro Hall.

Ms. Aiden said, “In our conversation as a whole group, we kind of came to the conclusion that we needed to do something to honor Brianna Taylor’s life and decided that we do a memorial.”

Ms. Aiden said she and her students noticed the gray spray paint when returning to visit the memorial on Oct. 2. 

“Their feelings were hurt,” Ms. Aiden said. “They worked really hard, and they felt really proud of the work they had done, so some of them were really angry. Some of them were really sad.”

After seeing their work defaced, the students concluded that they would not take the memorial down. 

“The kids were pretty determined that they didn’t want to take it down,” Ms. Aiden said. “It wasn’t fair. They weren’t going to be bullied is kind of what they thought.”

Other classes and the M3 Aquatics swim club have added more art and signs to the memorial. Members of the swim club created art and laid flowers at the memorial on Oct. 3. 

In addition, the incident has sparked discussions in classes throughout the school, and Ms. Aiden said her class has been able to build on previous discussions. 

Students in her class have learned about the Pride and the Black Lives Matter movements and about historical figures including Martin Luther King, Ruby Bridges and John Lewis. Additionally, her students have learned about the principles of fairness and treating others with kindness. 

I’ve been able to build on everything that we’ve learned since they were 3, but it really all starts with talking about fairness, and this is like the perfect age developmentally.”

— Tracy Aiden

Remembering past discussions about police violence, Ms. Aiden said, “It often makes them angry. It like stirs something in them because they still do see things as like a fair and just world.”

Through their recent discussions, Ms. Aiden’s students continued to consider the world around them. 

“I’ve been able to build on everything that we’ve learned since they were 3, but it really all starts with talking about fairness, and this is like the perfect age developmentally,” Ms. Aiden said. “Kids want things to be fair.”