Silverado litterbugs cause problems for staff

Admin announces Saturday campus beautification day for litterbugs


Charlize Santos

Collage of littering around campus.

Charlize Santos, Reporter

Ah, lunchtime. Thirty minutes to relax, feed the growling monster in your stomach and indulge in the presence of your friends before heading to your next period. Most people would consider lunch to be the best part of their school day— well, maybe not the people who have to clean up after lunch.

The remains of annihilated chicken sandwiches on the ground, soggy juice-stained cardboard trays left on tables, a flock of pigeons fighting over a single leftover pizza slice.

For Silverado’s custodial staff, this is the harsh reality of their job nearly every day. Yet they still go under appreciated and disrespected by students who lack the ability to clean up after themselves.

After each lunch period, Silverado’s custodial staff get on their carts and rack up dozens of trash bags in preparation for disposal. They also take charge of cleaning up litter left behind in bathrooms and other areas around campus.

“I do believe our custodial staff is top-notch,” said Cyndi Castro, Silverado’s assistant principal of athletics and facilities. “Our custodial staff really takes pride in noticing there’s an issue and addressing the problems as fast as they can.”

Aside from creating vast amounts of mess and chaos at lunchtime, certain students also participate in writing inappropriate song lyrics, curse words, and quotes on bathroom stalls, making it even more difficult for custodians to focus their time on tasks they’re originally assigned to do.

“We’re currently experiencing a high volume of graffiti that’s taking place, and students are not understanding the amount of hours it takes for the custodial staff to address those issues,” Castro said.

It’s not an easy job cleaning up after 2,300 students, especially when most of the mess is made intentionally. Nonetheless, the staff persists to maintain high standards of cleanliness and safety at all times.

Rather than focusing on duties that pertain to their usual jobs such as cafeteria cleaning, the custodial staff spends hours cleaning up graffiti in bathrooms and trash all over campus.

“We hold Silverado to a higher standard, and we want to make sure that we’re presenting a safe, clean environment for all of our students,” Castro said. “Our custodial staff has to spend an exorbitant amount of time on things that students could easily do themselves that would allow us to focus more time on the areas that we need to fix.”

The only current solution to the vandalism problem in the bathrooms is covering graffiti-covered stalls with thick layers of black paint. The solution, however, isn’t lasting as students are quick to pick up their markers and doodle over the newly painted walls, thus continuing a never-ending cycle of vandalizing and painting over vandalism.

Along with graffiti, it’s not unusual to find vape pens shoved down toilets, soap dispensers that have been broken or even stolen, and trash bins overflowing with paper towels defacing the school bathrooms at Silverado.

“Graffiti and smoking in the restrooms isn’t a new problem,” said Castro. “This has happened over the span of time all the way back to when I was in high school.”

And it’s true, teens have always been inclined to rebel against authority. It’s inevitable, and little can be done to prevent such bad habits other than to implement increased amounts of supervision to ensure that students are kept productive.

“One of the things that our principal, Ms.Ditto, has done is she’s hired additional campus security monitors to make sure that we can have more eyes and supervision that rotates through the school area to make sure that students aren’t left in the restroom for long periods of time,” said Castro. “They’re making their rounds, making sure that students are moving, that they’re in class, and that they’re not just hanging around when they shouldn’t be.”

This addition has proven to be successful as the amount of littering and graffiti has decreased significantly since last school year.

“I definitely think that as far as the littering issue is concerned, I believe it’s gotten better,” said Castro.

As for students who are caught littering or vandalizing school property, the consequences are not light. In order to continue helping the custodial staff maintain the school’s appeal and cleanliness, Castro announced that Silverado will begin initiating Saturday school for those who vandalize or litter on school property.

“We are actually starting Saturday school, and when students initially are caught doing certain things like leaving their trash out, we as administrators ask them to throw away their stuff or stay back and help clean up the cafeteria,” Castro said. “But we are [also] initiating a Saturday school beautification day which would focus on those students.”

Hopefully, increased consequences will help students remember not to litter.