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Butterfly naming effort takes flight

The students in Kerry Vumbaco's class at Pinewood Elementary in the Mohonasen school district are persuasive lobbyists. They're leading the charge in an initiative to name an official state butterfly, and they are pushing hard for one particular candidate the endangered Karner blue.

I voted for the Karner blue," said Nino Tortorici, 9, a member of Vumbaco's third-through-fifth grade, special education class. Tortorici and his classmates said that they liked the butterfly because it is on the endangered species list and because it is found in the local Pine Bush Preserve.

According to Vumbaco, it can even be found in the school's backyard.

The 11-student class spent a majority of the fall researching and reporting on New York's butterflies, each with exotic names like the Black Swallowtail, Milbert's Tortoiseshell, the Mourning Cloak, the Red Spotted Purple or White Admiral and the leader of the polls, the Karner blue.

As part of the project, teams of students were assigned to specific butterflies and were asked to come up with basic facts about their habitat, life cycle, diet and appearance. One fifth grade student, Carlos Delopaz, researched the Mourning Cloak all by himself.

"It's the first butterfly you see in the spring and the last to disappear in the fall," he said in his presentation of interesting facts about the insect.

After completing their research, the students designed a PowerPoint presentation and posters with colorful renderings of each butterfly. Then, with the help of their teachers, the students starred in their own informational news video that urged third, fourth and fifth graders to vote for their favorite butterfly.

Dressed in their finest clothes, each of the students served as a news anchor in a broadcast watched by the whole school. The broadcast told students how to vote for the butterflies on a school Web site.

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