Students and teachers of the Mackenzie High School at Linden were yesterday morning greeted by very explicit graffiti on the outer walls of the school, apparently in reprisal for the cancellation of a graduation.
Derogatory remarks directed towards the school’s deputy head teacher were written on the head teacher’s office, the wall of the form three building which is in clear view of passers-by and several boards around the school. The inscriptions were done between the close of the school day on Wednesday and yesterday morning.
The act was condemned by Chairman of the Education Committee of the Regional Democratic Council and Regional Chairman Mortimer Mingo.
Mingo said that he was alerted to the graffiti on the walls of the school shortly after reporting for duty at his office.
“The words were described as very obscene, vulgar, and indecent and this tells us that there are some things creeping into our schools and it must be condemned at the highest level,” said Mingo.
At the time of speaking with Stabroek News the Chairman hadn’t the opportunity to speak with education officials, but said that the incident would be investigated as far as practicable.
Sources close to the school are of the opinion that the graffiti resulted after students became angry over their graduation being called off by the head teacher and staff.
Stabroek News understands that the decision to cancel the graduation follows reports of misconduct and disrespectful behaviour on the part of a number of the students. According to a member of the school board the head teacher does not have the authority to cancel the graduation event but would have to make a recommendation to the board.
Students were refunded their $4,000 which they had paid towards the activity. Sessions were suspended yesterday morning to facilitate an emergency meeting of heads at the school. Only students who had examinations were kept in school.
Stabroek News spoke with several senior students all of whom expressed some level of anger against the deputy head teacher Gary Roberts. They complained that fifth formers were treated harshly by the senior teacher. “We agree that there are some mischievous children in the school but in this instance he (Roberts) wanted Peter to pay for Paul and Paul pay for all, how could they do a thing like cancel graduation, after five long hard years in school, the first true send off into the world of work they cancelling? That’s not fair at all man.”
Students said that on a number of occasions when they would have completed an examination they were aggressively chased out of the school compound by the senior teacher. They said that he was upset with students who were indulging in the traditional quilting of their school shirts. “This is something that happens all over the world when you leaving school.”
The students said that they know who is responsible for the graffiti, and while they admit that it was disrespectful and a dishonour to the school they needed the attention of the authorities and thought it was only going to be realized by some form of protest. “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction as stipulated in Newton’s law,” said one student. “But miss we are sorry that those students chose this way to vent their feelings,” another student said.
They insisted that they in no way were targeting the Head Teacher Cheryl McDonald. “We know that today (yesterday) she was very mad about the whole thing,” they acknowledged. Efforts to secure a comment from McDonald proved futile. She told reporters that she was not authorized to speak to the media on the matter and advised that contact be made with the Department of Education. Several efforts to contact the acting Regional Education Officer also proved futile.