Vandalism strikes Miller Middle School

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Photo by Susanna Tang

Miller Middle’s science wing was severely vandalized, causing alarming damage to school property.

Susanna Tang

Joaquin Miller Middle School was severely vandalized on the weekend of March 5. Targeting the science wing, the vandals caused alarming damage and theft to the school’s property and classrooms. 

“We are working with San Jose Police Department and San Jose Fire Department to file the necessary reports and assess damage and loss,” Miller Principal Amy Steele said in a message to the Miller community on March 5. 

According to students, there may have been small fires that were ignited near the whiteboards of Rooms 8 and 9, which were then smothered with a fire extinguisher. Dry chemical foam from the extinguishers left layers of yellow residue on the classrooms’ desks and the floors of the science wing’s backroom. Derogatory words were scribbled across the whiteboards. Multiple pieces of technology were stolen, and test papers were missing from the classrooms. 

After the incident, the teacher and students of one of the affected classrooms temporarily relocated to the library, while the classroom, its surroundings and its properties — including desks, whiteboards, missing technology and missing assignments — were being restored; the students moved back into the classroom after four days. Aside from the shift in the learning environment of some students, most students have not felt a change in their school community.

“Both my coding and science teachers’ classrooms were vandalized, so I was really curious and worried when I heard about the news,” Miller sixth grader Savya Churi said. “In my coding classroom, a few laptops and iPads had gone missing. In my science classroom, everything was ruined — there was broken glass and papers everywhere. The next day, my science teacher said that we couldn’t go in our classroom anymore, so we had to work in the library for the next week or so.” 

Although Miller’s campus has always been closed to the public every day after 3:00 p.m. and on weekends, students have not been respecting the school hours. Since the incident, Miller administrators have been emphasizing and enforcing the campus-closing times by urging parents to remind their children of school hours. With sports, clubs and other on-campus activities taking place after school, the school can only trust students with this responsibility to clear the campus after school unless they have a school-related activity.

“There have always been groups of students that hang out around campus after school,” Miller seventh grader Amie Wu said. “After we heard the news about vandalism, there has only been a small change to whether students have been leaving on time, but sometimes teachers or staff will come out and ask students to leave.”

Students and parents were shocked when the news of the vandalism was announced to the school. Since minimal information about the vandalism was given to the Miller community, many also felt concerned and curious.

“I was shocked to hear that Miller was vandalized because I didn’t think anybody would be interested in vandalizing a middle school, since there’s usually nothing valuable here except for iPads and laptops,” Miller sixth grader Ashwin Venugopal said. “However, this didn’t really affect my view on the school’s safety because I knew that nobody comes to school on weekends and holidays, so I didn’t really think it was the school’s fault.”

The news of Miller’s vandalism spread rapidly, causing the incident to become a widespread topic of discussion among students in the days after the vandalism. The question of why someone would vandalize a middle school remains in students, parents and staff.

Despite the damage caused by the recent vandalism at Miller, students were still able to carry on with their daily routines.

“I don’t think anybody likes to see vandalized school property because it’s hard for teachers, students, staff and basically anyone around the area to deal with,” junior Akshat Dhingra said. “Vandalism takes away the opportunity for the school community to thrive in an environment that should be safe for all students.”