Rodents and bugs discover fine arts smorgasbord

by Natalie Fedde

“Is that a prop or is that a dead mouse?” asked student teacher Casey Allen during a tour of the fine arts department on her first day at Millard South. It was, in fact, a dead mouse. While Allen loves working at Millard South, this wasn’t exactly the best first impression of the school and our fine arts facilities.

This is not the first time rodents have been found in the fine arts department at Millard South. Bugs and rodents are left out in the cold in the winter, causing them to venture inside. And where do they go? Right to the food.

Choir teacher Jason Stevens says this happens because, “students do not follow the rules.” It is well known among fine arts students that no food or drink other than water is allowed in any fine arts area. However, these rules are often ignored.

“I have definitely eaten in the music commons much more than I probably should be admitting,” says sophomore Turner Wittstruck. 

“Many of the students eat dinner in the music commons,” Stevens says, and drama teacher Robyn Baker says that “people go into the practice rooms and leave their trash there.” It may seem like there is a simple solution here. Just stop eating in the fine arts department. However the cause of this trash problem isn’t just student carelessness.

Baker says she believes this problem occurs because, “fine arts people are scheduled back to back activities, so if they are going to eat, they have to do it in between activities.” 

“Between drama and show choir, I don’t have much time, so I get food and munch as quick as I can. Predominantly fast food,” says Wittstruck.

Stevens says he understands the scheduling problem. “We want them (fine arts students) to have food before rehearsals, but we want them to clean up after themselves.”

“I have had to vacuum up ants in the girls dressing room during tech week because someone left food out,” says senior Madi Wesch.

Bugs and rodents aren’t the only problems caused by messy students. 

“Sometimes liquid gets spilled on equipment, and equipment needs to get repaired as well as [causing] stains in the carpet,” Stevens says.

Stevens says that he often finds crumbs, wrappers, and takeout containers underneath or even inside the pianos. This can cause equipment to not function as well. 

“There hasn’t been a day I’ve been around the department and not seen trash,” says Wesch.

These avoidable mishaps cause damage that is time consuming and expensive to fix. “Our custodians are stretched thin,” says Baker. “It took 30 years to renovate our fine arts area. Millard South overall has great facilities.”

The main goal, Stevens says, is for students to enjoy the space. 

“We want to have a space that is welcoming and students are proud of. We also want a space where equipment works. We want a space that is not attracting rodents and bugs, and we want to teach kids how to clean up after themselves,” he says.