September 12, 2014
WSGS: beating school vandalism

With concerns being expressed about the prevalance of vandalism being caused by students in schools, West St George Secondary School stands out as a beacon of hope that the issue can be resolved.

According to acting principal Dianne Williams, the school {{more}} had a huge problem with vandalism four years ago, but currently hardly has any issues.

So, what is the school’s remedy? A mixture of educating students about the pitfalls of vandalism, giving them responsibility over their school and environment, and rewarding them for adhering to that responsibility.

Williams said that the school has in place a rota system, whereby each class is responsible for keeping their environment tidy, and reporting any vandalism committed by fellow students.

“It makes students take ownership of the school and their environment,” she explained. “It’s working because we don’t really have a problem with vandalism right now.”

Williams said that throughout the year, there is a Best Kept Class competition, where the winning class receives a cake to be shared among its members. In addition to that, there is a grand overall prize that varies from year to year.

“This year, the prize is a day trip to the Buccament Bay Resort,” she revealed. “The winning class is going down there next week!”

Williams also said that when it comes to educating the students about the advantages of taking care of school property and disadvantages of damaging it, she not only emphasises the effects on the school and the environment, but also how it can affect the students personally.

By way of example, Williams said that she had discussed with students how littering on the school compound can provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying the chikungunya virus.

“They don’t want to catch the virus so they’re more careful about where they dispose of their waste – not only in school, but also at home,” she said proudly.

Williams recalled that the vandalism the school suffered prior to four years ago was linked with gang members who attended the school at that time. She said that there was a lot of rivalry at the time, but that as the students graduated and left the school, the gang culture gradually disappeared.

Williams added that once in a while, a residual hint of that gang culture tries to rear its head, but that they have a zero tolerance attitude towards it.

“We try to nip it in the bud!”

In addition, on the few occasions that students of the Belair-located institution are caught vandalising school property, they are penalised and charged with the cost of the repairs.(JSV)