It takes a village to raise a child ---- and to clean up a school.
Members of several community groups partnered with the Goldsboro Police Department gang suppression unit Saturday to clean up graffiti at Eastern Wayne High School, in an effort to give the school a facelift before class begins later this month.
The groups met at the school around 1 p.m., where they talked and planned out how to best approach the situation. D.J. Coles, founder of the 4-Day Movement, brought a large group with him to the school, which he said the group has specifically focused on.
"We've targeted Eastern Wayne as a school where we want to pour our E4 into," he said, referencing a 4-Day movement program focused on education, enrichment, employment and empowerment.
"We're going to be targeting specific schools where we can help out."
Coles turned to Mark Colebrook, founder of Operation Unite Goldsboro, who was speaking to IMPACT Teens founders Ja'Shawn Faire and Khalil Cobb. Coles said that the groups had a lot to gain by collaborating.
"What Mr. Colebrook has been doing out in the community has been outstanding, and it's a lot of what we want to do as well," he said.
"Mark and I decided that, instead of just duplicating services, we were going to work together over and over again."
Within a few minutes of everyone getting there, groups split up all over the school to get to work. They laid down plastic sheets to catch any mess, and primed any graffiti they found for removal.
As the cleaning went on, GPD gang officer Walt Howard took photos of any gang-related graffiti. Later, he said, he would use those photos as part of larger gang investigations to find out "who's battling who" in different parts of the city.
More than just being a tool for investigation, Howard said, cleaning up the school is a way to help students learn.
"When you come outside and your neighborhood is trashed, your morale goes down," he said.
"By coming out and cleaning things up, we can hopefully help kids look forward to something better."
Volunteers with the 4-Day Movement brought in light stands to illuminate the bathrooms, and paint rollers to speed up the process.
All told, the work took about two hours to complete, Colebrook said.
Eastern Wayne Principal Lee Johnson thanked the groups for cleaning things up, and said she was optimistic about the recent uptick in community activism in Goldsboro.
"When the students come back to school, we want them to have a clean slate, and a happy and welcoming environment, which can be hard to do with graffiti on the walls," she said.
"I'm very excited about the community groups which have been coming together in Goldsboro and Wayne County recently. I'm glad to live in a community where people care about the kids."
Howard echoed those sentiments. As a law enforcement officer, seeing community members go out of their way to engage the GPD in events is encouraging.
"We absolutely cannot do this without the community's help," he said. "This graffiti is influential to kids, it makes them more likely to join gangs. If we can clean it up, gang activity goes down."