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Another northern school hit by vandals

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - Last week it was Astumbo Middle School, and Monday the island learned that vandals managed to hit Okkodo High School, causing major damage just five days before Christmas.

Today marked the first day of Christmas Break for Okkodo High, but the Home of the Bulldogs' administration came into work with an unpleasant surprise. More than 40 classrooms were vandalized, leaving officials left to pick up the pieces. A rash of break-ins has occurred throughout the island's public schools, more notably those located on the northern tip of the island.

Just last Friday, Astumbo Middle School was broken into and this morning, the school administration at Okkodo High had found out that the vandals hit the Dededo campus early this morning.

Sophomore Amy Fejeran arrived on campus to attend a student meeting, and said, "It's kind of weird because Christmas is supposed to be a time for giving and loving - why would anyone do this?"

The vandals managed to go through this back window in a classroom and smashed the windows to about 47 out of 54 classrooms. According to principal Ken Denusta, he received a phone call from the security agency that the school's alarm went off. Police later arrived and made their assessments. Denusta says they suffered extensive damage throughout the school.

"We did have one television set that belonged to our electronics class taken. We had a number of other small items like DVDs, a projector that was about to be taken out but was dropped on the floor. I'm sure they would've gone and taken out more, but I believe the quick response by the police and the security stopped that effort on their part," he explained. Okkodo is surrounded by a jungle area and away from the main road. Denusta says he often fears whether the school is safe.

For the time being, while the maintenance of the new schools is covered under the contractor, the principal says it's something that costs money the government doesn't always have. "It's covered under our contract," he confirmed, "but with the extensive damage that we have, it's still not something that we are pleased with. Of course, this is still taxpayer dollars that gets affected."

Also, junior Raquel Maminta says she's hoping the perpetrators aren't students of the school. She told KUAM News, "I think there's not a lot we can do to stop the kind of people that would do this, but I think as far as within the school, if it was someone from our school that we could do more just having more pride in our school."

With the recent break-ins throughout the island, Maminta is hoping the Department of Education will invest in security for all public schools, saying, "I think if there's someone who can maybe patrol the school, like during the night or in the afternoon, to prevent things from happening like this."

Many of the schools have requested to include security as part of their budget, but DOE has said it doesn't have the funds to cover those costs.

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