Hell Week vandalism creates costly damages, threatens existence of future homecomings

By Kellie Petersen 2009

Along with the success of last week’s homecoming, the high school once again experienced acts of vandalism, which this year included a bomb threat and returned the shadow what’s commonly referred to as “Hell Week.”

“I think this puts a damper on many student’s homecoming experiences, and I think that’s unfortunate, “ CFHS principal Dr. Rich Powers said.

The first instance of vandalism occurred during the night on Tuesday, Sept. 25.

Powers was reluctant to provide details such as who was involved and what exactly happened because the police are still investigating, but doors were broken, paint was splashed on the front entries and the Five Pillars of Character, and all of the exterior locks were glued as a part of these acts of vandalism.

A bomb threat was also painted on the door to the lobby that had been damaged, and there may also have been paint on other areas of the building.

Although police investigations into these acts of vandalism are still occurring, Powers said that it appeared that the acts were committed by two separate groups of people.

“We’re still investigating, so you need to know the full extent of each person’s involvement before charges are filed,” Powers said.

Because the vandalism was still being investigated, Powers said he was unsure of what the punishment would be for the vandals and whether or not charges would be filed, but he did say that if arrests or long term suspensions were appropriate, then the school district would press charges and impose long term suspensions.

The vandalism and bomb threat that occurred on Tuesday night were not the sole incidents associated with Hell Week. On Friday morning a spray painted message bearing a derogatory reference to the Cedar Falls police was found on an area of the school, but again exact details could not be given. Coronation was also interrupted on Thursday night by a student streaker and there were several other incidents throughout the week, all of which Powers also declined to provide details.

The damages caused by the vandalism on Tuesday night are estimated at $1,500.

“It costs a significant amount of staff time and energy,” Powers said regarding the vandalism.

He said that the students that committed the vandalism would be expected to pay for all costs, including the labor for the clean-up process, but he also said that if the students could not pay the bill, then it would go to the school.

“Ultimately, the taxpayers pay for everything that can’t be recovered,” Powers said. “This goes back to being responsible with the tax payers’ money.”

Powers also commented on the effects the cost of vandalism damages has on the school systems’ budget when he said, “Over the years, the cost of damages have taken thousands of dollars away from students.”

Although there was vandalism and other incidents that occurred as a part of Hell Week, the school system did have an increased level of security that may have contributed to deterring other incidents.

Powers mentioned that there were increased custodial security checks, increased police coverage and letters sent to surrounding homes warning of suspicious behavior.

He added that teachers made it a major point to discuss Hell Week with their students. Student Senate and Senior Leadership addressed the issue, and Powers made a school-wide announcement about Hell Week and positive behavior to deter incidents from happening.

“Prior to homecoming week, Student Senate constantly encouraged our members to share our views on hell week vandalism in order to prevent any from occurring with our fellow classmates,” Student Senate president and senior Nirmeen Fahmy said.

Powers said that this year many students have stepped up positively in reporting Hell Week incidents, and that it is even more disappointing for that reason because the actions of a few students are ruining it for everyone else.

“Some students are making it so that we have no choice but to cancel it in the future,” Powers said. He also added that “Frankly, I think the community would be supportive. They’ve had enough.”

Fahmy disagreed with the idea that canceling homecoming because of Hell Week incidents would be best option.

“I do not think that threatening to take away homecoming would be adequate at all, it would be punishing the whole student body for something only a couple careless students committed. As long as who is responsible is held accountable, there should be no need in punishing the whole school.”

Regarding how this year’s incidents would affect future homecomings, Powers said, “We’re still discussing it; it would be irresponsible to continue if things don’t improve dramatically.”

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