We can do better

Smashed bananas on the stairs, paper towels plugging up sink drains, wrappers lying in the hallway. Trash at a public school is expected, but recently this habit has escalated.

Students have recently reported a rise in the amount of litter in the hallways, stairwells, and bathrooms. Not to mention the heavy amount of gum underneath all of the desks and chairs.

The custodians can only do so much, and do, though the situation seems to be an issue of disregard for personal responsibility or respect to property. Cherokee is, after all, the largest, oldest, and most expensive school to maintain. Although a new campus is in the works, the current campus will still be used afterwards and thus the responsibility to keep it clean remains.

A certain memorable virtual meeting between the journalism class revealed Mrs. Teasley and her kids had used the empty class time to scrape the chewed gum off of the underside of the desks with industrial scrapers. It was collected into one big ball of gum about the size of a baseball. It was mostly relatively fresh.

great big ball of chewed gum
When all Cherokee schools went virtual in January, Mrs. Teasley and her children scraped off all of the gum underneath the desks and collected them into one big ball. [Photo credit: Mrs. Teasley]

It was disgusting. Period.

Kayla Pimpleton, senior

Oh my gosh, why is she holding a ball of chewed gum??

Alek Pace, senior

Yuck.

Samantha Dodd, sophomore

It was not a comfortable sight for anyone. And at the North campus a few weeks ago, a smashed banana was spread over the main staircase. Accidents happen, but it is our responsibility to pick up after ourselves. Likewise, open bottles of drink have been left on the floor to be knocked over and large spills left for the custodial staff to clean.

It may not be dirt and trash over every inch, but the small wrappers left behind eventually do add up. A freshman reported a few days ago watching two students take full milk cartons and jump on them, causing milk to explode everywhere.

A few days ago, I conducted an unofficial study of Cherokee, specifically the North building. I went down all the hallways and checked all the women’s restrooms. Another member of the journalism staff checked all of the men’s restrooms. And the results were disgusting.

food stains on public school stairs
Food stains on the stairway outside of the 900 hall. [Photo credit: Makenzie Bird]

In the women’s restrooms, piles of dry paper towels littered the floor. A serious amount of graffiti marked up the stalls and mirrors. In some restrooms, wet paper towels blocked the sink drain and a few were stuck to the ceiling.

As for the men’s restrooms, it was reported that several of the appliances were gone or broken. Most of the toilets also went unflushed, and the amount of crude graffiti was even worse than what was seen in the women’s rooms.

The hallways weren’t as bad as the restrooms, but there was still a heavy amount of crumbs, wrappers, crumpled papers, and gum. On my walk around the North building, what seemed like an entire bag of chips was scattered across the front upstairs hallway. Again, keep in mind that the custodial staff cleans the entire day and many hours into the late evening. These situations are a reflection of our actions.

Thankfully, our school is continuing to work towards reducing the amount of student trash. Recently, hand blow dryers have replaced paper towel dispensers in the bathrooms, which will resolve many of the issues in the bathrooms.

There is still much room to improve on keeping our school clean. Cherokee only has so many custodians and it would benefit students and staff if everyone just picked up their own trash. Accidents happen, but they are our responsibility, not someone else’s.

One thing is absolutely clear: we can do better.

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