Thefts cause heightened security in CFHS art room

05.stolenart
By Sheila Moussavi 2005

Last Thursday, when art teacher Randy Marcussen arrived at school, he was not expecting to be greeted by a bitter disappointment. Marcussen had been working on his own time with a student with special needs, making a coil pot that could hold pens. Recently, the proud student handed the nearly finished product to Marcussen. Thursday morning, the same pot was lying broken on Marcussen’s desk. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a first.

Senior Morgan Moe came to collect her nearly-finished drawing to find it on the floor, having been ripped to pieces and trampled on. Junior Nate Anderson came to pick up his “big, beautiful, snack-bowl-sized pot” and instead saw what looked like “some sort of drug paraphernalia” in its place. And senior Amanda Gotera’s drying jar was found mutilated when she came to pick it up in the morning.

These are just a few in a series of complaints that have marked what Marcussen and fellow art teacher Bob McCollough both consider to be “the worst semester we’ve ever had for theft and vandalism.”

“All semester there’s been everybody in trouble. These groups feed off one another,” Marcussen said.

McCollough agreed the problem is largely “peer pressure.”

Finding justification for these attacks is just as difficult as assigning responsibility. Although the motive is clear enough with the cheating cases, the same cannot be said for the theft and seemingly random vandalism, and the only reasonable explanation is, as McCollough believes, “just carelessness; it is just total disregard for people’s property.”

Along similar lines, Marcussen said he thinks students are “just destructive. These pieces you can’t just make; it’s not an overnight thing. Weeks are put into these projects, and in the end, the project certainly doesn’t go unfelt.”

“We put a lot of work into these projects, and it’s really sad that someone doesn’t respect that,” Gotera said.

Regardless of who is responsible and why, both art teachers know something has to be done to prevent future attacks. In the recent past, they have tried an assortment of solutions from not allwing students to come in and work unless they’re in a class in the room; to fastening with wire the 59 cent brushes that the thieves seem to have an odd affinity for — and removing said paper altogether.

Although McCollough’s plan to lock up finished pieces has reduced that chapter of the problem, the senseless act of vandalism on Thursday is proof that these methods hav ebeen, for the most part of little help. In the future, however, more drastic measures may be taken.

Marcussen and McCollough have been considering their options for ending this problem and have explored every possibility from color-coded bags for each class to remodeling the art room to include lockers on the inside and in the hall, similar to the band hallway. Although both teachers have put a lot of thought into these changes, they are open to suggestions and would appreciate any student advice.

With these precautions and the chance that the problem won’t end even after they’ve been implemented, the art department will inevitably undergo many changes, the most extreme of which would limit the experience for all art students at the high school. Ultimately, if the three-legged problem isn’t stopped, Marcussen and McCollough predict that ceramics and jewelry classes may have to be dropped altogether, limiting class options to 2-D art.

When so many people are affected by these choices, those involved can’t possibly expect lenience. Both art teachers have punishments in mind for the culprits, and students who are caught can expect their art careers at Cedar Falls High school to be over. Students who turn themselves in will face lesser punishment, but, if Marcussen gets his way, “They will be kicked out of art for this year, at least.”

Although the art department has been dealing with this problem on its own until now, it may soon have to request the involvement of the administration.

*Additional reporting contributed by Heather Dexter

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