North Hollywood : Vandals Spark Effort to Make School Safe

After vandals struck Monlux Elementary School three times in as many months, parents and administrators alike knew it was time to step up safety education.

All schools have safety programs, of course, but Monlux Principal Naomi Suenaka set out to make her elementary school among the security elite.

“What we’ve been talking to our students about is safety--keeping our school safe and keeping ourselves safe,” she said. From having fire department officials teach students to stop, drop and roll, to cleaning up litter around the school, Suenaka said the graffiti served as a safety catalyst.

“Once you start talking about safety in one area,” she said, “you talk about safety in other areas.”


Since the vandalism in summer and early fall, a security company has installed motion detectors in all classrooms at less than cost, Suenaka said. And money has been donated to pay for grills on 32 classroom windows and eight transoms. The donation came from “a fortysomething former student” who prefers to remain anonymous, the principal said. She expects the grills, which can be opened in case of fire, to be installed by Dec. 18.

Continuing the school’s safety bent will be an assembly scheduled Tuesday with Caltrans employees.

“Caltrans will be talking about safety on the highway--wearing your seat belt, knowing that orange cones mean to slow down,” she said.

In addition to giving white hard hats, identification badges and coloring books to the 100 kindergartners, Caltrans will donate neon orange vests for schoolyard safety monitors. The next day, Suenaka said, is reserved for the earthquake drill.