Vandalism damages morale of South student body

By Sidrah Baloch
Published: April 2009

Within the last few months, incidents of vandalism around Newton South have gained school-wide attention, prompting concern and frustration from both students and faculty.

Some students have expressed annoyance with bathrooms that have been locked as a result of graffiti or vandalism, and with the library study room that is still closed after student-inflicted damage last month.
According to custodian Ernie Peltier, the boys’ bathroom by the auditorium lobby was locked after somebody kicked or punched two large holes in the wall.

The school had to pay a plaster company to fix the damage, but when the bathroom was reopened, vandals broke the walls again. After that, custodians locked the bathroom for a week to reduce the chance of costly vandalism occurring again.

The girls’ bathroom by the auditorium lobby was recently closed for several days as well; however, this was due to a broken toilet that had to be fixed, not because of vandalism or graffiti.

“If something is broken or vandalized, we try to get it fixed as soon as we can, head custodian Danny Bianchi said.

Still, Bianchi pointed out that the school only has a limited amount of money that can be used to replace or repair damaged school property. This budget is renewed in July, so as it gets closer to the end of the school year, the custodians have to prioritize and focus on emergencies first. For this reason, the broken exit signs in some of the hallways have not been replaced yet.

Peltier said that he thinks most of the vandalism around South is a result of disrespect for the school environment and students’ general carelessness.

“When students ruin things, it ruins it for everybody, he said. Both Bianchi and Peltier said that the amount of vandalism this year is not abnormal compared to other years.

The school library has also had its share of damage this year. Last month, one of the study rooms had to be closed indefinitely when librarians heard a loud crash and found dent in the wall and graffiti.

Librarian Ethel Downey said that they hope to reopen the study room soon, but are waiting for approval from Goodwin housemaster Charles Myette.

Other incidents of theft and vandalism in the library include stolen headphones and computer mice that have been cut from their computers.

The librarians are also disgusted by the food and trash that have been stuffed into a hole in the wall of one of the other study rooms. “I think it’s gross and nasty, Downey said. “We have put signs and tape [over the hole], and students just rip it off.

Librarian Dorothy McQuillan attributes the trash in the hole to students who do not want to get caught eating in the library and hide their trash instead of leaving the study room to throw it away. McQuillan does not, however, believe that the garbage and vandalism are part of an attack on the library or on the school. “These are just isolated incidents. I don’t think there’s any sort of crime spree, she said.

Senior Christina Amendola agrees that there isn’t a singular reason why students vandalize the school.
“I think it’s hard to pinpoint one reason, she said. “I think some kids just don’t care about the school very much, which is sad because it is giving them a lot more than they realize.

“I think kids may [vandalize] because they know they’re not allowed to. They definitely know that it is hurtful and annoying, but that’s probably the point, junior Erika Eldrenkamp said.

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