Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate cleans up

Com­plaints about un­sightly hangout near brook prompts ac­tion from stu­dents, staff

The Compass - - OPINION - BYMELISSA JENK­INS SPE­CIAL TO THE COM­PASS

Spring is in full swing in the Town of Car­bon­ear, with green grass grow­ing, flowerbeds be­ing planted and res­i­dents walk­ing out­doors tak­ing ad­van­tage of the sun­shine.

For Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate, this means an an­nual spring cleanup.

Al­though school staff sched­ules cleanups around the prop­erty ev­ery year, this year was one for the books.

An anony­mous phone call led The Com­pass to scope out a path di­rectly be­hind the school’s park­ing lot, lead­ing to a nearby brook.

What was found there was shock­ing and dis­gust­ing.

Walk­ing down to­wards the rocky dirt path, the first thing that could be seen was a large pile of garbage — chip bags, cig­a­rette pack­ages and butts, pop cans and plas­tic bot­tles, just to name a few.

Down the path un­derneath a canopy of trees was an area that ap­peared to have been re­cently camped in with rem­nants of camp­ing sup­plies and bro­ken up pa­per plates, but the worst was yet to come.

Stand­ing at the wa­ter’s edge, sev­eral school desks, more than a dozen or­ange chairs and some ply­wood cre­ated a makeshift dam across the brook.

What a mess.

Let’s clean it up

Prin­ci­pal Ed­ward Rus­sell was aware of the is­sue af­ter the snow had melted, and planned to ad­dress it when the weather was dry enough to take on the large pro­ject.

Al­though not com­pletely sure who cre­ated the prob­lem in the first place, some school staff mem­bers be­lieve only a hand­ful of peo­ple, in­clud­ing stu­dents, were re­spon­si­ble.

Rus­sell said the plan was to have sev­eral teach­ers vol­un­teer their time to clean the area and make it pre­sentable again. Be­fore they had the op­por­tu­nity to tackle the prob­lem, a phone call was made to the school from the mu­nic­i­pal en­force­ment of­fi­cer re­gard­ing the same sit­u­a­tion.

A male stu­dent, who hap­pened to be a fre­quenter of the area, was present in the school’s of­fice while Rus­sell was on the call and over­heard the sit­u­a­tion.

“The stu­dent of­fered to get a few guys to­gether and clean it up,” Rus­sell said, adding the stu­dents needed a few more vol­un­teer hours for ca­reer class to grad­u­ate.

The school’s guid­ance coun­cil­lor of­fered to su­per­vise and as­sist. This was a win-win for the school since the area would get cleaned up, and the stu­dents would com­plete a grad­u­a­tion re­quire­ment. The stu­dents re­moved 10 bags of garbage from the area on May 22.

Who did it?

Dur­ing re­cess time May 24, a group of a dozen stu­dents gath­ered in the pop­u­lar spot, in­clud­ing three of the male stu­dents who had a hand in the cleanup.

The dis­cus­sion be­gan about who was re­spon­si­ble for the mess, but no fin­gers were pointed.

“Hon­estly, we have no idea who was re­spon­si­ble,” one stu­dent said, with some oth­ers nod­ding in agree­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to sev­eral males, the mess had been there for quite some time, with one sug­gest­ing it was as far back as Septem­ber.

Some stu­dents added they showed up one day and the desks and chairs were in the wa­ter and trees, and no longer be­hind the shed. One stu­dent sug­gested it might have been cre­ated as a bridge to the oth­er­side.

If it was a bridge, it was a very danger­ous one.

An­other stu­dent shook his head “no” when the idea was brought up that the school may have known about it be­fore re­cently.

“If the school knew they didn’t say any­thing,” an­other stu­dent added.

The orig­i­nal vol­un­teer said the first he heard of hav­ing a cleanup was in the of­fice, the day he over­heard Rus­sell on the phone, and he and his friends had no prob­lem help­ing out.

New hangout for stu­dents

This area is fre­quented by many stu­dents, mostly smok­ers, that use it as a hangout re­cess and lunch breaks. It was not a pop­u­lar hangout last year.

Dur­ing the 2011-12 school year, many stu­dents hung out across the road from the Val­ley Road school, on the east end of the park­ing lot, and on the lawns of neigh­bour­ing res­i­dents.

Be­cause of threats of le­gal ac­tion against the school by a neigh­bour and re­peated ad­vi­sory from the en­force­ment of­fi­cer to not im­pede traf­fic, the school had to tell stu­dents to stay away from other properties and the road. The new hangout area was found rel­a­tively quickly, ac­cord­ing to the school.

The path­way that leads to the hangout is just off school prop­erty, di­rectly be­hind a shed built on the park­ing lot, so stu­dents could go there to so­cial­ize, or smoke if they chose to, with­out be­ing dis­rup­tive.

It was only af­ter the stu­dents re­lo­cated to the area that the un­sightly mess started to emerge.

Rus­sell said old desks and chairs were al­ways stored be­hind the shed be­cause they were not al­lowed to go in the dump­ster. Some stu­dents, and pos­si­bly oth­ers, took it upon them­selves to re­move the prop­erty from be­hind the shed and throw it in the brook.

Keep­ing it clean

The piles of trash grew be­cause the area was out of sight, and Rus­sell said as soon as the school was made aware, the sit­u­a­tion be­came a pri­or­ity.

“It would have been cleaned up sooner, but weather was not co-op­er­at­ing,” he stated.

It was de­ter­mined by staff mem­bers the area should be checked ev­ery few weeks to en­sure it never gets to that un­for­tu­nate state again.

melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

Pho­tos by Melissa Jenk­ins/spe­cial to The Com­pass

A pop­u­lar hangout area for stu­dents be­hind Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate was in com­plete dis­ar­ray this spring. The lo­cal brook was lit­tered with trash, school desks, ply­wood and chairs cre­at­ing a dam. Last week, sev­eral stu­dents at Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate vol­un­teered their time to clean up the mess be­hind the school to make it look pre­sentable. Here is a be­fore and af­ter im­age of the scene.

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