Every day after lunch, the campus is littered with trash from students who do not care enough to throw it in a trash can. 

Anywhere the student body eats, there is bound to be trash. One of Naples High’s assistant principals, Eric Maya, is becoming increasingly more frustrated with students not cleaning up after themselves.

“I am honestly disgusted by the idea that any person would not clean up after themselves when they are done eating,” Maya said. “They need to understand that it is not the job of the school staff to pick up their lunch table, and they are responsible young adults who are fully capable of picking up their own trash. It can give the school a negative image when it appears that we do not care.”

Littering is not an accepted act within the Naples High community. It not only disrespects the campus, but it similarly disrespects people who work so hard to keep the school clean, like the janitorial staff and Naples High plant manager, Miguel Riol, who has worked at NHS for 43 years. 

“They get so lazy. We have a hundred trash cans, but they never pick up their trash,” Riol said. “We had to hire a janitor for after lunch to clean up the mess you leave behind.” 

Gary Brown was a principal at Naples High from 1994 to 2008 and worked with Collier County Public Schools for even longer. He enacted a punishment that if a student was caught littering, the student had to spend the next day picking up trash all around the campus. With this policy, any students who did not want to clean up after themselves thought twice about leaving their trash everywhere. It was an effective deterrent and prevented kids from littering again. 

After Principal Brown left, a new principal was hired and removed the punishment due to parental complaints. 

Nowadays, if a group of students at a picnic table is consistently leaving their trash in the area, faculty will check the cameras to see who has done the littering. Then, that picnic table will be off limits or outright removed for a certain period of time. A table’s umbrella can also be removed as well. 

Punishments for students can also range from lunch detention to In School Suspension (ISS), depending on whether or not that student was a repeat offender. 

The school administration is not the only group that can help with trash. The Naples High Student Government (SGA) also has various campus cleanup initiatives. 

According to the NHS website, “SGA provides an opportunity for all students to actively contribute to the academic and social climate of the school campus.” 

These SGA projects include all four grade levels, helping to preserve the Naples High campus. 

“Each grade level is responsible for some sort of a beautification project,” SGA Sponsor Lauren Meinert said. “They all have their own role and how they seem to do it.”

Within the juniors’ beautification project, a flower and shrub area was planted in front of the auditorium. Every couple of months, the juniors go back to take care of the area. A few years ago, the seniors did a campus cleanup as part of their beautification project. 

Although helpful, these beautification projects are only surface-level solutions to the real problem. The littering problem is caused by students who lack the maturity to respect the campus and those around them. Frederic Laderer, sponsor of the National Honor Society, experienced this carelessness firsthand on a Thursday morning before first period even started.

“As I was coming into school, the student was roughhousing with another student using inappropriate language and exploded a milk carton laying on the ground, and milk was everywhere,” Laderer wrote on a referral given to a student who “very intentionally stomped on a certain container spraying its contents on me and probably others.”

It was unclear whether or not the mess was cleaned up by the student’s friends, but it is assumed the mess was most likely cleaned up by a custodian. 

Laderer noted that while he was “not pleased” about having maple syrup on his legs the whole day, he did “smell nice.” 

The littering problem all boils down to the students who litter. Naples High need to clean up after itself in order to keep the campus clean.