For the second time in as many years, Peninsula high school grads are coming under fire in connection with a mess left at a Harrison Lake-area recreation site.
According to a post on a private BC Toyota 4WD Facebook page, the Skwellepil rec site, located west of Harrison Lake, was found strewn with litter and sundry camping items early Friday.
“New tents, chairs, tables, tarps, air mattress, sleeping bags, coolers and all their leftover garbage, just left there!!!” the post states.
“The wind was blowing garbage everywhere, even saw things floating by in the lake!!”
Surrey School District spokesman Doug Strachan confirmed that officials were alerted to the pollution Tuesday.
Efforts are underway to determine exactly which schools the students responsible for it attend, but Strachan said there is evidence at least some hail from the Semiahmoo Peninsula.
“There’s certainly evidence that there were Elgin (Park Secondary) students involved,” he said.
In a letter to parents of Grade 11 and 12 Elgin Park students sent Wednesday morning – and shared with Peace Arch News Wednesday afternoon – principal Bruce Filsinger said it was an understatement to say he was “disappointed, embarrassed and dispirited” by the incident.
“There is absolutely no circumstance on earth that would justify such entitled and asocial behaviour,” Filsinger writes.
“This punctuates some of the concerns I have expressed around unsanctioned events such as the grad campout. I will reiterate; these events have proven in the past to be less about wholesome good times and more about illegal behaviour. I worry that this irresponsible behaviour may lead to something far more irreversible that we all may regret.”
Filsinger asks parents to sit down with their children and “encourage them to express themselves in a more socially acceptable and mature manner that better represents both them and this community.”
This time last year, Earl Marriott Secondary students were the target of wide-spread criticism, after word and photos of a similar mess hit social media.
Following that incident, EMS students and others were quick to defend their peers and the school. They urged critics not to judge them all on the actions of a few, and pledged to make things right.
“We represent a lot more than this isolated event, and I’m sure many of us can’t wait to prove it,” then-Grade 11 student Jonah Mandin posted on Facebook at the time.
A team was organized to clean up and restore the site.
Strachan said Tuesday that events responsible for such mess as was discovered Friday are not sanctioned by the school or district, but reflect on the school regardless.
He added there are “limited steps” that can be taken to curb the occurrence. Educating students on the need for responsible behaviour, and advising on the expectations of students in general and grads, specifically, is done every year “in a very forward and deliberate way,” he said.
“We’re as appalled with what shows up in the way of photos of these camping trips as anyone else.”
Strachan said next steps have yet to be determined, including what, if anything, will be done if and when those responsible are identified.
“At this point, we haven’t really decided if there’s anything we could do and what it would be.”