This article first appeared at the Preston County News & Journal | Written by Katy Plum | August 16th 2022
Preston High was a beehive of activity this past weekend.
Parents, students, school staff, community members and Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy cadets worked as a team, cleaning and polishing our county’s only high school.
The smell of glass cleaner and paint filled the air, while brooms kicked up dust and tools removed weeds and debris from sidewalks and corners.
Any space used for years by thousands of teen-agers is going to need a good cleaning and updates from time to time. Add in vandalism and lack of personnel and money, and it’s going to need it worse.
Those folks who apprised the Preston County Board of Education earlier this year of how bad things had gotten at PHS were right to be upset. But they didn’t just bring the situation to light; they also set about remedying it.
“We fully understand that this is an inherited problem,” Krista Nazelrod of the Friends of PHS told the board in March. “It didn’t just happen this year. But our main goal was to say, ‘How can we help you?’”
“We went to great extremes to protect our children against COVID-19 with masks and distancing, yet 100 yards from where we stand today, there are missing soap dispensers, doors, latches, in addition to lack of upkeep and regular cleaning” of bathrooms, Nazelrod told the board.
Saturday was proof that the Friends of PHS are friends in deed, as well as voice. They organized more than 40 people who volunteered throughout the day at the school, using cleaning supplies provided by the county schools’ maintenance department.
Should things have been allowed to get this bad?
Has the county been dealing with a shortage of money and employees for years?
But some steps have been taken to make things right. In May, PHS Principal Todd Seymour reported that through the use of the new e-hallpass system, security cameras in the hallways and more frequent checks of restrooms, progress was being made to stop the vandalism, and to identify and punish those who persist in this behavior.
County maintenance crews also took on extra repairs and renovations in the bathrooms.
Those initiatives and clean-up efforts like those Saturday send a message: Vandalism is not acceptable in our community. Unclean schools are not acceptable in our community. We as a community do care about our children.
As one volunteer said Saturday, “They’re all our kids,” and we owe them our support.