School Combats Graffiti Spree
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Michael Nakasato took the helm as Pearl City Highlands Elementary School principal Feb. 22 amidst an effort by the student council to stop a recent graffiti epidemic on campus.
Among his first official duties: overseeing a recycling fundraiser day, set for 7 to 8 a.m. March 11. Funds from collected aluminum, plastic, glass, cans and bottles will be used to purchase a motion-detector, cameras and flood lights to deter vandalism at the school.
According to interim principal Hanh Nguyen, during his seven weeks filling in for Nakasato PCHES has had three graffiti incidents, the most recent of which was discovered after President’s Day.
“There was tagging in two places, one on the building and one on the playground,” said Nguyen.“The tagging is a certain way of writing and certain words that are their calling cards or their handle.”
School officials took photos, notified the police and painted over the graffiti, but Nguyen said the vandalism is a recurring problem at others schools in the area.
“Our campus is fairly open,” said Nguyen.“It is on Waimano Home Road, and the gates are not locked, so people have easy access to the campus.
“The pattern is that it occurs during the long weekends, when there is a Furlough Friday, and especially when a Furlough Friday occurs before a holiday.”
Nguyen said he believes that since nonprofit groups rent the school for their functions, that keeps the campus busier and deters vandals from doing even more graffiti.
To handle the problem, the school hopes to strengthen its relationship with the community association walking patrol.
“Hopefully that will deter the activity,” said Nguyen. “We have talked about include installing video cameras, which is very prohibitive cost-wise for a small elementary school like ours.”
He urges neighbors to report any unusual activity at the school during off-hours to the police.
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