Student Trash a Problem

Growing Evidence of Students Not Cleaning Up

A students lunch trash left behind on a table on Main Street.

A student’s lunch trash left behind on a table on Main Street.

During the course of the ‘22-’23 school year, RMHS has seen a significant amount of trash being left around the school, more specifically, the cafeteria and Main Street.

District Facilities Manager Mr. Kevin Gerstner, who has been working at RMHS for around eight years said, “We see a lot of trash left behind at the PAC entrance where the lift is to the balcony of the auditorium. There’s a lot of trash that’s left up there on the stairs and behind up there every day. Those are the biggest areas.”

Assistant Principal Buckley adds the places she sees the most trash are “the places that lunch is happening. So, Main Street, cafeteria, outside the cafeteria.”

Effects on School Environment 

Mr. Gerstner said that the trash has had a major impact on the school environment.  “No one wants to be in a building that’s dirty,” said Mr. Gerstner “No one wants to be sitting and tapping away at their laptop on Main Street at 2:30 in the afternoon and realize that it doesn’t necessarily smell like it did at eight o’clock when they came in in the morning.”

Junior Will Bennett believes that cleanliness has gone down at the school.  “It was clean. It was very clean here. And then I don’t know what happened. Everything just went horrible.” 

Effects on Staff 

Mr. Gerstner said that this problem mostly affects the custodians at the school. “I feel a little disheartened,” he said, “because it’s just extra work for the cleaners, for the custodial staff, and the cleaning company.”

Mrs. Buckley agrees that it has been affecting the custodians and she is upset about this. “The custodial staff are some of the most amazing people on staff and anything that we can do to make their jobs easier as they work so hard for us, we should be doing,” she said.

Senior Nikolas Serrao has noticed that the problem is affecting all staff members. He said, “I think that the staff are kind of annoyed at the moment.”

Why Students Litter

To most people, it would be common sense to simply throw trash away. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

Serrao thinks the reason why so much trash is being left out is that “Some [students] are too lazy, and they don’t really want to do that.” 

Junior Will Bennett agrees: “They just don’t care about it.”

Mrs. Buckley said, “I think the reason why the trash is getting left around a lot more is because we have more spaces opened up for lunch duty. And we want to be a school that trusts students to clean up after themselves. Which is not happening as much as we want.”

Possible Solutions

Some students think that a student should be punished harshly for committing such an offense. Will Bennett said that if “suspension” was the punishment, kids wouldn’t litter.

Serrao thinks that the punishment should be less severe. He thinks that “detention” would be enough of a scare to stop kids from leaving their trash.

Serrao also thinks that making changes around the school building could have an impact. “I think a sign on the table would be good,” he said, “indicating that if trash is left unattended and is not picked up, there could be consequences.”

Mrs. Buckley is guardedly optimistic.  “The problem can be solved,” she said, “but it’s going to be a team effort.” 

Mrs. Buckley recognizes the current consequences haven’t been effective. “So far, we’ve only warned students or reminded them to clean up their trash,” she said, “but maybe we should move forward with issuing detentions for refusing to leave a space like they found it.”

Mrs. Buckley said, “We want to have a school where we take pride in the area.”  She added, “This school is beautiful, and we want to keep it that way.”