A group of Selkirk Secondary students took it upon themselves to get out and try to remove the "Grad21" spray paint tags that popped up around Kimberley over the weekend. Photo courtesy of Emery Hoko.

Selkirk principal proud of student initiative to remove “Grad21” graffiti

A group of about 15 Selkirk Secondary students have taken it upon themselves to try and remove the “Grad21” graffiti tags that have been spray painted around Kimberley by other students in their school.

Student Emery Hoko posted about their endeavour in the Kimberley Cork Board Facebook group, acknowledging the upset in the community about these tags and describing how they’ve gone about trying to remove them.

“Our community has been very upset regarding this issue, and rightfully so,” Hoko said in the post. “The negative light it has shed on our group as a whole has impacted the dynamics of our little town.”

The post, made Feb. 8, has nearly 650 reactions and 152 comments, predominantly praising the initiative of these students and some offering supplies to aid in their cleanup efforts.

Selkirk Principal Clint Dolgopol said that in his ten years at the school he hasn’t seen too many such instances of vandalism.

Any time they do, however, Dolgopol said that the school calls upon its Grad Executive and the graduating class to “do the right thing” and “make amends with the community” even if they weren’t involved with the graduating class.

“It’s a community school and their reputation in the community is important to us and what the city does for them and vice versa is important,” Dolgopol said.

Dolgopol said that he was proud in this situation because over the weekend, when it became known that these tags had been placed, the Grad Executive immediately stepped up, had some communication with Vice Principal Scott Sharun about what had happened, and got right on the task of dealing with it, without having to have a meeting with the principal.

“I thought that was great,” Dolgopol said. “And it’s not the kids that necessarily actually did the graffiti, in fact I would think that it wasn’t. I’m proud of our grad class and our grad executive for being community minded and stepping in and doing the right thing, which we would expect of any grad class, but we were able to see that happen without having to put any pressure on it.”

He added that the acts of vandalism is not representative of the graduating class of 2021 as a whole, but rather the individuals who made the mistake of doing it.

“My hope is that they’re not painted with that brush and I doubt that they will be, but certainly, what is representative of the grad class is making sure, even if they didn’t do the graffiti, that they took care of it on behalf of the school and the grad class, which again I’m proud of.”

In her post, Hoko said that they almost completely removed the tags under the bridge at the ski hill, though even after numerous attempts with materials including paint thinner, there were some spots that they weren’t able to remove.

At another location above the flume, the lower half of the tag was dangerous to access, and the group said they intend to return when the snow recedes so they can attack it from another angle.

Hoko said that the group contacted the City of Kimberley, asking if their cleaning efforts could potentially cause any more damage, and according to the post, the city advised them to hold off for now until a safe solution can be come up with. They also expressed their gratitude to the City for donating cleaning supplies to their crew.


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