Carbonear Collegiate cleans up
Complaints about unsightly hangout near brook prompts action from students, staff
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.
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.