School leader’s collection takes off - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

School leader’s collection takes off

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Posted: Thursday, April 5, 2007 6:28 am | Updated: 5:55 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Scottsdale schools Superintendent John Baracy figured he planned the perfect spring break vacation:

Time in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to relax and continue part of a collecting habit that began bugging him and other boys in his neighborhood in their preteen years.

Baracy, who collected butterflies as a boy, still photographs them. Two years ago, he donated his entire collection of 31 specimens to Michelle Simonson’s second-grade class at Copper Ridge Elementary School.

Baracy wanted to pass the 50-year-old artifacts on to help educate kids and, perhaps, find another aspiring collector or two among them. In the process, he wanted to start giving the children photos of new sightings.

However, his “O-for-Mexico” trip was disappointing.

“I didn’t see any interesting butterflies,” Baracy said. ”It’s the time of year. They haven’t hatched yet. My son went last October and saw a ton of butterflies. When I heard that, I was excited thinking I’d see a lot of them, too. I saw two, and they were ones I had already photographed for the kids. Maybe next time.”

Baracy recalls that when he was 8 years old, he and some friends enjoyed spending time in a 10-acre patch of woods adjacent to the 3M Co. buildings in suburban Detroit, where he grew up. There, they found insects, other treasures and, especially, cocoons and butterflies.

“That was our little oasis,” Baracy said. “We had an interest in those kind of things. It was our worldly respite. We also would take pictures of the butterflies, gather them and, after they died, mount them.” Baracy said he quit collecting when he was 11 but passed on the interest to his two children. Now, he’s gratified to get other children interested.

“I’ve always had a fascination with butterflies since then,” Baracy said. “I collected stamps, too, and still have them. While I don’t have the butterflies, my interest is still there. I think the students at Copper Ridge have enjoyed them.”

After a fall trip to Compton, Ill., Baracy delivered several cocoons to the class that he and his wife found in the southern part of the state. The students were able to track the metamorphosis.

“I got an e-mail in February from the teacher who said two of them hatched,” Baracy said. “The kids loved them. It’s educational and fun for them.”


The NBC phenomenon “Deal or No Deal” with Howie Mandel is bringing its “Deal on Wheels” casting bus tour to the Valley next week.

An open call will be 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Fort Mc-Dowell Casino, 10424 N. Fort McDowell Road at the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.

Prospective contestants must arrive by 5 p.m. People interested in being contestants will be given an opportunity to speak with a casting director and fill out an application.

Potential contestants are welcome to wait in line with family and friends. They must be at least 18 years of age and a legal U.S. resident.

For more information, visit

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