Birthday Locker Decorations Tampered With

By Mara Shapiro

10th Period Editor Mara Shapiro on birthday locker decoration vandalism.

Most teenagers look forward to their birthdays. 16 means license, and 18 means legalization. But there is more to numbers, balloons, and cake for a high school student; there are also birthday decorations! Typically (especially with girls) friends decorate the birthday person’s locker with streamers, pictures, and cute messages and notes in order to show how much they care. But birthday decorations aren’t always fun and games. Lately, students are finding out that their decorations are being tampered with.

I have a personal experience with locker decorations. My locker partner worked hard to decorate our locker for my birthday, and the designs were still there by the end of the day, but by the time school rolled around the following morning they had been taken down. We were disappointed because decorations don’t exactly take five minutes, but we blew it off. But then not even a week later I decorated the locker again, this time for my friend’s birthday, and the decorations only stayed up for a day. My partner, junior Basia Gawin, explains how she felt when she discovered the decorations to be stolen.

“I was mad when the locker decorations were taken down after one day. Many people spend a lot of time decorating their friends’ lockers and it’s unfair that they can just be taken down. I think it would be a better idea for people to have to take the decorations down themselves,” Gawin says.

Neither Gawin nor I are the only ones to be affected by the vandalism. Junior Lyba Zia shares her disappointment as well.

“Freshman year, I had someone take decorations from my locker on three different occasions. My friends, being very persistent, kept trying to fix [it] but eventually gave up. It’s  really annoying and disappointing to see that some students in our school can’t respect their peers’ hard work. If it’s not for you, it’s not yours to mess with,” Zia says.

It’s really disheartening to know that someone would take the time to try to destroy someone’s happiness on a special day. My friends and I are pretty modest with our decorations, but some people go all out, like big posters and tons of photos. These decorations are time consuming and even though the birthday student knows it’s coming, his/her friends still need to pretend to decorate in secret, meaning staying after or before school, and it can be particularly tough after school because I know personally that security doesn’t really like students sticking around after school for the decorating.  Junior Marina Letica stayed after school to decorate one of her best friend’s lockers, only to later find out that the decorations somehow “were moved” to the top of the locker. Mind you, it was a construction paper base with pictures taped to the locker, yet somehow it “got moved.”

” [My friend] Rachael and I stayed after to decorate [the] locker for [our friend’s] birthday even though we were really busy…and they were taken down before she ever got to see them. She ended up finding them though, so it was all good,” Letica says.

Junior Sasha Volkodav explains that her locker decorations were turned into a practical joke, that is to say students drew inappropriate anatomical parts on her pictures.

“I mean it takes effort and a little time to decorate someone’s locker and it’s just disappointing when something like that happens.”

Students have been speculating about the custodial crew being the ones who take down the decorations. Assistant Principal Kendall Griffin says that the school does not have a policy against locker decorations, but that lockers are the school’s property and the custodial crew has no way of knowing how long the decorations have been up, plus their supervisors may tell them to take the decorations down, and the custodians must comply if told to.

“There is no rule or policy against decorating lockers. We know students decorate. At past schools I’ve worked at I saw students decorating…the lockers are our property, they belong to us. We take pride  in a very clean school. We have three custidial crews, a day shift, a night shift, and an overnight shift. They do not know how long the decorations have been up…. I understand where students are coming from, but the students who decorate for Prom and Homecoming spend time and we take those down within a few days.”

Griffin says that students should continue decorating if they desire to, but that they should know that there is a chance that the decorations will be taken down quickly.

So students, there is no quick fx to the locker problem. My advice to you is to get to school early and decorate in the morning. Staying after school is a bit risky, but it’s up to you to decide when you want to decorate.