Pride for primer

Victor Duran

Students and staff showed school pride by removing graffiti from campus on Jan.25.

On Sunday morning, Jan.24, a Downey city council member discovered that several locations on our school campus had been vandalized with graffiti. The act took place between midnight and 5 a.m. Sunday morning. The stage mural, the gym, the girls locker room, the S building, the T building and the Q building all had been vandalized by graffiti to an immense degree. Some graffiti reached a height of eight feet and an estimated diameter of fifteen feet, adding to a cost of 400 dollars alone in damages.

Two students of Downey High were held responsible for defacing the school, and were convicted of felony vandalism. They have been expelled from school, and the cost of labor and paint used to remove the graffiti is now the responsibility of the student’s parents to pay for. The students were also charged for damage done throughout the city of Downey, estimating to over 1,000 dollars that are to be repaid to the district.

“Kids usually come on the weekends to skate around the campus, so there is always some suspicion of vandalism,” utility worker Robert Lopez said. “Once every two months there are some major vandalism issues to deal with but never to that scale.”

Lopez has been a part of the DHS staff for nine years and deals with vandalism affairs on a daily basis. Lopez wasn’t the only one on the job; he had senior Mitchell Martinez assisting him in getting to many of the hard to reach areas that were vandalized.

“It sucks when Robert doesn’t have a T.A., because then he has to do it, and it’s harder for him to get to certain spots because he has a bad knee,” Martinez said. “That’s what I do first period, I help Robert.”

Both student and staff came together in an act of pride for their school. Math teacher Nathan Harris also showed his Viking pride and played a big role in catching the perpetrators.

On Monday morning, when one of Harris’ students handed him a textbook, he noticed that there was graffiti written on it. As it is the responsibility of teachers and staff to report vandalism on school property, Harris took a picture of the graffiti with his phone and sent it to security guard, Jack Andreason. Every piece of graffiti found on campus is photographed and documented in a database, making it easier to compare works of graffiti and match them to the criminal. Harris had not been aware of the major vandalism done throughout the school and was immediately approached by the administrators concerning the issue. The administrators asked Harris only a few questions that would lead to catching the criminals.

“All I really did was take a picture on my phone and sent it to the administration. They did all the investigating and finding out who did it,” Harris said. “It’s satisfying to know that our administration reacts immediately to these issues and is always in tune of what’s going on.”

Harris emphasized the importance of respecting property and implementing the six pillars of character: fairness, trustworthiness, respect, citizenship, caring, and responsibility.

“Writing is like a disease,” principal, Tom Houts said. “Writers not only write on public property but on everything they own including backpacks and class assignments.”

Taggers or “writers” have a tendency to leave their mark on everything including things they own and things they don’t. Fortunately, as they leave their trail of breadcrumbs, it makes it much easier for them to be caught. Thanks to the remarkable administrators, over fifteen taggers have been caught this year and eleven of them have been expelled.

With the perpetrators caught and the school campus restored to its original state, graffiti free for the most part, the Vikings took back the campus they take pride in.