The rodent problem at San Marin has infested the lives of students and teachers. They come into classrooms and leave their droppings, making a mess for teachers to clean and disrupting the class. Principal Mark Sims said that the problem mostly comes from where the school is geographically located. The hills that surround the school and the abundance of trees that hang over the school make it easy for mice to drop down onto campus and sneak into classrooms.
Another major factor is the amount of food being left outside on the campus without being thrown away, making it easy for the mice to eat students’ trash. Leaving food out on the campus and in classrooms leads mice inside. Some teachers have made efforts to stop mice from coming in by prohibiting any food in the classroom. Others understand that their class might be the only class where a student is able to eat their lunch or breakfast, so they allow it. Apart from classrooms being affected, students’ lockers have also been a target.
“It all started when I opened my locker and everything was fine at first. However, when I reached for a book, a mouse jumped out and crawled up my arm. Every time I went back to my locker, more mice would appear,” sophomore Angie Starn said.
Starn also said she never keeps food in her locker, and that mice have affected her daily school life. The mice eat her homework and she is scared to open her locker, in case she has another encounter.
Starn, along with French teacher Jeffrey Moore, believe that the school should increase control of the animals, but they don’t know how to remove them. Moore said that four years ago, he noticed white flakes falling from the ceiling. He found that a mouse had been eating the ceiling. Moore said that there are more mice in the winter when the weather becomes colder and they start to look for warm spaces. Spanish teacher Reyna Lowrie wants the classrooms and buildings that serve food to be properly cleaned. However, Sims said that removal becomes an ethical problem.
“Community members feel we shouldn’t mess at all with the mice. Others would say mice carry disease and all sorts of other things, and that makes this a challenge.” Sims said. “We can’t kill an animal. We are here to protect the animal’s rights, others would say it is ruining the campus. It is a political argument that goes beyond my belief.”
Sims also said that it is not up to the school to take matters into their own hands.
Along with restricting any kind of food in their classrooms, teachers have found some alternatives for extra protection. Lowrie said that she blocks the door of the library that connects to her own classroom. She also says that she noticed more mice showing up when food was served more frequently in the library and then was not cleaned up properly. By blocking the door, she keeps a barrier between the mice in the library and her classroom. She keeps her room clean and prohibits eating, unless candy is issued by her.
Sims described the rodent situation as inescapable, saying that the spots affected the most would be the parts of the school closest to the hills, such as the student center.
Sophomore Lauren Hartley, who is in musical theater, said, “They are always running around and they sometimes come in during rehearsals. Everyone starts screaming and running, and it interrupts the rehearsal.”