By Cynthia Dominguez and Katelyn Yang, Clarion Staff
Despite the sometimes overwhelming media attention John F. Kennedy High has received in recent months, some issues plaguing the campus have yet to be discussed. Kennedy’s campus sees huge amounts of trash, and the ground is no stranger to food wrappers, scurrying animals and abandoned items. This results in trash being visible throughout the school day, despite the hard work of the Kennedy custodian staff.
Regardless of the fact that many people on campus witness a buildup of trash on our campus, it seems the general consensus is that not much more can be done. Crystal Chan (‘18), a Kennedy junior, stated, “There should be some sort of regulation, or something to encourage [students] to throw their trash away. But I don’t know if students would follow it.” Surprisingly, during events like Food Fair, trash still finds its way to the ground, regardless where trash cans are placed at all four corners of the quad, in the center, or even next to several of the food tables.
Mr. Plotts, a Kennedy mathematics teacher, mentioned that Kennedy has attempted to curb littering before. “[The school] has done it before, putting out little PSA’s, but with the amount of students and so little eyes — it’s difficult to police,” he informed. “Rather than just promoting social behavior that is to cut down on littering, I don’t see how they can physically keep a watchful eye.” Lack of major results from administrative efforts adds to the consensus that the students are really in control of the littering, with only so much that the Kennedy custodian staff and administration could do.
While some students’ and instructors’ opinions may seem pessimistic, the school and administrators have made several efforts to reduce the amount of littering on our campus. Assistant Principal Michael Fry described the attempts to correct the negative behavior, including the “Positive Behavior Campaign”, which sought to leave reminders and encouragements around school hallways to keep the campus clean.
Other than the Positive Behavior Campaign, rewards were also given out in the form of Cougar Cash when constructive behavior was seen. This Cougar Cash would hopefully instill a sense of accomplishment in students as it serves as a ticket, usually permitting the student with a free drink from Kennedy’s Cougar Cafe.
Extending these efforts may have given some instructors on campus some relief, since many felt overwhelmed by the lack of awareness that students demonstrate when they choose to litter. Kristen Goding, a physical education teacher, has mentioned students’ tendency to litter candy wrappers on the ground, and the result of roaches and rodents appearing near student locker rooms. Goding and her colleagues believe that the future might hold a cleaner Kennedy.
The main areas of concern happen to be the C-building stairs during lunch times and the quad, especially during Food Fair days. Events involving food to any capacity tend to bring about an abnormal increase in littering. Even the after school snack provided by the After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens program (ASSETs) can be the source of countless food wrappers and food scattered around the school, prompting an influx of janitors directly after snack time en
While walking up the stairs of the C-building, a visible sign asks students to not bring food or drinks into the building. However, students clearly violate it as they eat on the stairs, in hallways, and in classrooms. Such behavior entices animals to sneak into the building, leading the janitorial team to work harder. Custodian Bill Mejia told The Clarion, “75% of the trash [on campus] is in the classrooms. There’s less paper and less garbage, but there’s more food, and that’s why we get the pests.” He expressed that allowing students to eat in the classrooms is the biggest contribution to the pest and rodent problems at Kennedy.
Taking a stroll around the campus throughout the school day can lead to a startling discovery of countless trash items on the floor, completely available for many birds on campus to feed on. “I am not a zoologist, but I can’t imagine birds that were designed to digest burritos and hot cheetos,” commented Assistant Principal Michael Fry. “I can say with some certainty that the birds congregate around our campus at lunchtime, because they know this is the hottest spot in Greenhaven to get free food.” Aside from birds, trash on campus can also draw many unwanted critters into our learning environment, as seen through Kennedy’s last riveting appearance on local news.
In addition to the litter problem, Custodian Mejia stated that the budget cut from a few years ago restricted the amount of custodians on campus, making it harder to maintain campus sanitation. In order to get rid of rats on campus, he recommended removing the ivy around the school because rats burrow beneath it for shelter. Although students may be unable to remove the ivy themselves, they can help prevent more animals from claiming Kennedy as their home by taking extra steps to keeping the campus clean and rodent-free.