Gang-related vandalism spotted on campus

With the measure of vandalism on campus heightening, faculty grapple with the rectification of vexatious acts and vie to implement a positive progressive inclination among students for the purpose of preventing further debasement.

From the walls of the science and art buildings, to the grounds surrounding the small gym, students and staff arrived at school on Sept.15 to discover the campus tainted with graffiti. This observed defacement consisted of undecipherable lettering and has been confirmed to have included gang-related taggings that marked one of the local gangs situated in the Van Nuys area.

Dean Brian Acosta was immediately notified of the vandalism present on campus and was responsible for the calling of its erasure. Within a matter of days, the various graffiti was completely and thoroughly painted over.

“It’s important to remove it as soon as possible and see to it that a solution to keep it from continuing is found,” Dean Acosta said.

Shortly after this event, additional portrayals of graffiti were noticed in the morning before school on Sept. 24. It was discovered surrounding the southern stairwell of the English building and was successfully concealed with paint by the second period.

Lamentably, the individuals who committed these deeds have not yet been identified, and the time during which the operations occurred has not been determined.

A multitude of the school’s faculty has expressed negative criticism regarding this case of debasement. The distasteful scrawl witnessed by English teacher, Mr. Christopher May, was located by the bottom of the westside stairwell of the building in which his classroom is ensconced.

“It is demoralizing and dangerous for students who are on campus,” Mr. May said. “The majority of students want to be in a safe environment so that they can learn. When only a few bad actors perpetrate graffiti or exhibit any kind of destructive and defacing behavior, it demoralizes the students who are here to learn and creates an environment where they don’t feel safe. When that happens, students lose respect for adults who are supposed to be there looking out for them.”

Despite his feelings of discontentment in relation to the length of time taken for the school to respond to the glaring dilemma, Mr. May meticulously acknowledges the multitude of predicaments and complications the staff has been striving to manage and resolve amidst the ever invasive covid-19 pandemic.

“The tagging I saw took a couple of days to get covered, which was unfortunate,” he said. “I would have appreciated a quicker reaction time on the painting and also on dealing with the recalcitrant behavior. However, I know that the administration and the staff are dealing with a lot of stuff right now.”

Fortunately, as a result of the repetition of these incidents, the school deans have adapted their processes with the intention of responding to such happenings in a quicker fashion; this change has proved to be effective.

After noticing prominent changes in student’s behavior proceeding a virtual assembly which took place on Sept. 17, Mr. May speculates that such defacement of school property would not be occurring if issues concerning safety, responsibility and respectfulness had been recognized earlier in the school year.

“A day after students were informed not to wear hats at school that were not connected to Van Nuys High School, it stopped,” he said. “Kids get the message, and kids really do want to be in a safe environment, they want to learn and they want to do well. It’s only a few kids that are causing problems that we need to identify quickly and address whatever it is they have going on.”

It has been deduced that the considerable transition between online and physical school has evidently had a direct influence on adverse improprieties among students.

“Prior to leaving campus in March of 2019, graffiti did not often happen,” Mr. May said. “What we are experiencing now with a lack of safety and discipline can be traced to the fact that we have almost two and a half years worth of students who have not been on a high school campus, who have not had expectations and certain acceptable behavior standards presented to them.

Mr. May strongly believes that with the guidance of principled and respectable leadership figures, students will be motivated to participate in productive activities that benefit the community as opposed to unavailing and antagonistic pursuits.

“It is our duty as adults, both administrators and teachers, to establish a proper set of guidelines and expectations, and then enforce them,” he said. “If we do that, then I think much of the challenges we have been facing will be stemmed.”

Appertaining to the overall despondent impact of such vandalistic acts, Dean Acosta too emphasizes the importance of conducting oneself with an affirmative demeanor.

“The presence of such graffiti on school grounds makes it look ugly, uninviting and creates a negative environment,” Dean Acosta said. “This is our second home, so we should take care of it and try to make it a better place.”