Archive for the ‘School’ Category

School vandalism hits record high

Maria Rantanen, The Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows Times [British Columbia]
Published: Friday, September 05, 2008

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district spent more than a half-million dollars on repairs in the 2007/08 school year resulting from a record year of vandalism in the school district.

“Vandalism is a community problem,” said Kathie Ward, who is on the anti-vandalism task force. “Hardening the building is one measure — we need that community involvement.”

By the end of the school year, there were 1,248 vandalism incidents, up from 903 last year. In the 2001/02 school year when statistics were first being collected, there were 566 incidents, which cost the district just over $288,000.

Maple Ridge Secondary had the highest number with 159 incidents, Garibaldi was second with 88 incidents and Eric Langton Elementary had 85 incidents — the third highest number of incidents.

Vandalism incidents have increased dramatically at Yennadon Elementary, and Ward said the school district is trying to figure out what’s happening there.

There were 48 vandalism incidents at the school last year, whereas in the 2006/07 school year there were only 18. The summer was quiet at Yennadon, but Ward said on the second day of school there was once again an attempted break and enter.

“We really need the public’s help,” Ward said about rectifying the problem. She added schools need to get involved and in turn the school needs to engage the community around them. The neighbours are the “eyes and ears” when the school is not occupied.

The school district has put in various devices to deter vandals, for example, sprinklers, magnetic locks, shutters, sound devices, trip wires and cameras.

The fewest incidents — three — occurred at the district maintenance office, and only five occurred at the district office on Brown Avenue.

Vandalism is also up in the community at large in both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. In the first six months of 2007, there were 552 reported incidents of vandalism in Maple Ridge, and 139 in Pitt Meadows — in 2008, there were 623 in Maple Ridge between January and June, and 176 in Pitt Meadows in the equivalent time period.

The most common type of vandalism is graffiti, according to the RCMP. The police have tried to encourage reporting of vandalism even if it doesn’t result in any action in order for them to accurately track the numbers.

The school district established the anti-vandalism community task force seven years ago to combat increasing vandalism. It includes members of the RCMP, the fire department, principals and vice-principals and the business community.

The SD42 anti-vandalism hotline is [stop snitchin’].

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Vandalism down, graffiti up at schools

By Melissa Lampman – Kamloops This Week [British Columbia]
Published: August 26, 2008

School District 73 saw a drop in vandalism on its properties, but is finding more graffiti than ever.

During the 2007-2008 school year, the district spent nearly $40,000 on glass replacement, down from the 2005-2006 year when more than $50,000 was spent.

Art McDonald, director of facilities and transportation, told the Board of Education Monday all district facilities are seeing less window breakage and overall damage.

“We are putting less material up, as far as breakage goes,” he said.

The few schools that did have some damage were Author Stevenson elementary, with dumpsters that were tipped over and then set on fire; Barriere secondary, which had 17 windows broken in July; and Barriere elementary, which had 27 windows smashed.

However, just like the rest of the city, there’s more graffiti being done than ever.

McDonald said painting man hours have almost doubled for the last school year, with 154, compared to the 93 man hours in 2006-2007.

“But, those man hours are only one per cent of our time,” he said.

“With the graffiti, we chase it, but it’s very difficult to stop.”

McDonald said most vandalism takes place from April to October, especially during long weekends.

The only way to stop it from happening would be to have security patrols at every facility.

“But we can’t be everywhere at once . . . we’re talking millions of dollars.”


Vandals arrested by RCMP

Barriere Star Journal [British Columbia]
Published: August 25, 2008 5:00 AM

Barriere RCMP report a series of arrests have recently taken place within the community.

At approximately 11 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 18, someone, or several someones, pried off a board at the rear of the Barriere Secondary School, gained entry and pulled the fire alarm.

The next morning it was discovered that windows at the front of the Elementary School were also smashed.

The severity of the incidents have been steadily rising and Barriere RCMP Constable Evan Cadwallader reports, “two people were recently arrested after being caught smashing the sign and two exterior lights at the Y5 motel.”

The two were held in custody, will be facing criminal charges, and were eventually released. Police say the perpetrators of this episode will have their names released at a later date.

RCMP also report that in the early hours of Aug. 20th they responded to reports of a fight in the area of the high school. Two males in their early twenties were arrested at the scene, and were charged with assault with a weapon. They were taken into custody by the RCMP with one being released and one remanded in custody. Tyler and Tony Cisna (cousins), and new residents to the area, will appear separately in court on Aug. 26 and Aug. 29.

Police also received reports of fires being lit in the middle of the road in the vicinity of the schools on Aug. 20. Cst. Cadwallader reports that a canine unit was called in and that the police dog was instrumental in tracking down the culprits.

Barriere police say they have several serious leads in the investigation of other cases of vandalism in the Barriere area and they expect to make more arrests soon. They request that if anyone has any information on the damage done to the schools to please come forward to the Barriere RCMP or call Crimestoppers.

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Arson investigated at VSS

By Richard Rolke – Vernon Morning Star [British Columbia]
Published: August 19, 2008

Another Vernon school has been the target of arson.

Firefighters arrived at Vernon Secondary School Sunday at 12:30 a.m. to find a stack of lumber on fire.

“It did damage to the door frame of the shop and it got up into the overhang of the roof and scorched the wood,” said Rick Owens, deputy fire chief.

It’s believed someone may have been on the roof of the school prior to the blaze being noticed by a passerby.

“A vehicle was seen leaving the scene. Whether it was involved, it’s not 100 per cent sure,” said Owens.

Members of the Vernon RCMP were also called to the scene.

“It’s still under investigation,” said Gord Molendyk, detachment spokesman.

This is the second case of arson at a local school in the last few weeks.

On Aug. 12, the RCMP received a report of a Molotov cocktail being thrown at Mission Hill Elementary. Only minimal damage was done, and it’s not known when the incident actually occurred.

Officials are not willing to link the incidents at the two schools.

“It’s too early to say if they are connected, but there were two different fire starts and they were quite some distance away from each other,” said Molendyk.

Owens credits a member of the public reporting the fire at VSS, saying that the situation could have been a lot worse.

“If it had gone unnoticed, there could have been a lot of damage,” he said.

The Vernon School District has taken action to try and minimize vandalism at all facilities.

Security officers will be patrolling all schools between now and the resumption of classes in September.


School repairs costly

By Teresa Bird – North Island Gazette [British Columbia]
Published: August 12, 2008
Updated: August 15, 2008

Vandalism is rampant at North Island schools this summer.

In the latest incident, the front doors at Eagle View Elementary [in Port Hardy] were kicked in Monday night.

“The literally kicked in the glass,” said Randy Ball, manager of operations and maintenance for the school district. “they really had to work at it. This is laminated glass the same as in a vehicle. They actually damaged the door kicking in the glass.”

The vandals also took the time to break the branches on the Japanese red maple in the playground area.

“It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to the save the tree,” said Ball.

But this latest damage isn’t the first this summer.

At North Island Secondary in Port McNeill, the front office windows were smashed early in the summer.

“But we found they moved down the building as we boarded windows up,” said Ball. All the windows are boarded now and the broken ones won’t be replaced until school starts.

Vandals have also been busy on the roof of the school.

“There was big fan unit on the roof,” said Ball. “It was kicked off its mounts and rolled off the roof to the pavement below,” explained Ball.

At Sunset Elementary, the large tires in the playground were lifted and rolled down the bank, across the track area and into the wall of the gym at NISS creating “significant” dents in the siding, said Ball.

Back at Eagle View steps are already underway to frustrate vandals. Metal shutters are being installed on all the windows while the school is undergoing a seismic upgrade. But Ball says they had hesitated to shutter the doors.

“We wanted to avoid making it too institutionalized,” said Ball.

Ball said all the vandalism takes a lot of time, effort and work for his crew as well cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars every year.

“I am surprised no one is seeing or hearing anything,” said Ball, adding sometimes they get called out in the middle of the night to deal with vandalism. “This costs major money, especially in glass replacement. We could be working on other things at schools.”

The money spent could be used for other things as well. The school board has been forced to cut services, programs and staffing in North Island schools in recent years due to declining enrolment, increased costs and insufficient funding. Schools at Echo Bay and Quatsino were closed in June to balance the 2008-09 budget. The board may face cutting as much as $900,000 dollars from next year’s budget.

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Anti-vandalism efforts boosted after worst year

Maria Rantanen, The Maple Ridge Times [British Columbia]
Published: Friday, July 04, 2008

The vandalism report for June 26 was grim: both Laity View Elementary and Maple Ridge Secondary had eight smashed windows, Westview had one and Golden Ears Elementary had one, but school district secretary-treasurer said it’s just a “continuation of what’s been a very bad year.” The 2007-08 school year was the worst year for vandalism since the school district starting keeping statistics seven years ago.

Despite more than $100,000 invested in initiatives to deter vandalism like automatic sprinkler systems, high-pitched noises and a hotline, Woytowich estimated that repair costs will be between $600,000 and $700,000 this year.

“You can’t give up,” Woytowich said. “You can’t know how bad you’d have been if you hadn’t done anything.”

The school district is trying a few initiatives in the summer to try to cut back on summer vandalism.

Shutters are being installed on many school windows, which keeps the windows from getting broken but the shutters themselves often get splattered with graffiti.

To protect the greenhouses at Westview and Thomas Haney Secondary — which often get climbed onto — they will be encased in plexiglass to stop vandals from climbing on them and kicking in vents and breaking windows. The district has also changed security firms, and Hughes Security will now be patrolling the school district’s property and responding to calls on the hotline.

“We weren’t getting value for money,” said Woytowich of the previous security firm.

Throughout the school district, there were 65 break & enters and 253 reports of broken windows from September to May – statistics for June aren’t available yet.

There were 356 reports of graffiti, 308 of external vandalism, and 136 of internal vandalism. Maple Ridge Secondary reported the highest number of vandalism incidents totalling 151. The elementary school with the highest number was Harry Hooge with 55 incidents.


School vandalism heats up with summer

Kate Webb, Coquitlam NOW [British Columbia]
Published: Wednesday, July 02, 2008

As students were busy enjoying their first weekend of freedom after the end of classes, vandals were busy smashing out 21 windows at Maple Creek Middle School.

The acts of vandalism grabbed Coquitlam RCMP’s attention after the school’s alarms went off around 6 p.m. on June 22.

The school district’s vandalism report shows five windows were also destroyed at Central Elementary on June 19, and another three at Hillcrest Middle School on June 24.

Certain types of crimes are seasonal, and this would be an example of a seasonal crime,” said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Brenda Gresiuk. “In the past we have experienced more of these types of incidents at this time of year just because there’s no one at the school.”

Ken Niven, assistant director of operations for School District 43, said screens are currently being installed at schools frequently under siege to prevent windows from being broken again, but that progress is slow.

“It’s money, and you target vandalism as it happens,” he said. “You don’t want our schools to look like prisons, so you install screens as they go.”

Gresiuk said RCMP have established a school liaison unit with six officers on bike patrol to establish and maintain relationships with youths during the summer months, and to watch for vandalism hotspots.

“Their primary mandate is to be patrolling the schools, liaising with the youth and watching the areas that are not accessible to police cars,” she said.

The number of school windows smashed out this time last year was not available from police or school district officials by NOW deadline.

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RCMP look into three school fires
Blacklock Elementary has seen two fires in a week, but damage has been slight.

Matthew Claxton, Langley Advance [British Columbia]
Published: Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Blacklock Elementary has been the target of apparent arson twice in the past week, with a dumpster and a portable classroom set afire by unknown vandals.

Just before midnight on Sunday, firefighters were called to the school again after a passerby spotted a fire, said City fire chief Bruce Dundas.

Dundas said the outer wall of a portable had been torched. The firefighters managed to contain the damage to the exterior siding and a wooden ramp.

According to school district spokesperson Craig Spence, the damage wasn’t significant enough to disrupt classes at Blacklock on Monday.

“Incidents do occur,” said Spence.

Maintenance crews have not yet assessed the damage to the building fully. Once they do that over the next few days, the district will make an insurance claim.

The cause of the blaze has not yet been determined, but the RCMP is investigating, said Dundas.

The fire at Blacklock was the second in less than a week.

On June 12 at 11:20 p.m., City firefighters were called to Blacklock, located at 51B Avenue and 207th Street, to put out a fire in a large garbage bin. There was no damage to the school, said Dundas.

That same night, just an hour earlier, firefighters had also dealt with a construction bin on fire at Simonds Elementary, located in the 20100 block of 48th Ave.

Both of those fires were also investigated by the RCMP. No arrests have been announced.

Spence noted security guards make routine patrols of all district schools.

Last year, Phil Lacasse of Integra Security noticed an arson fire burning inside Peterson Road Elementary and contained the flames with fire extinguishers. He was honoured for his bravery by the board of education.

Police are asking anyone who knows about the latest spate of fires to call the RCMP at [number removed] or CrimeStoppers at [number removed].

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School vandalism down but still a problem

By Gary McKenna – The Tri-City News [British Columbia] – June 15, 2008

Smashed windows and graffiti continue to frustrate school district cleanup crews but the number of incidents of vandalism is down from last year.

While vandalism continues to be a problem, Jim Dueck, SD43’s manager of minor renovations, said the district has made strides in combating the problem.

“We are 200 windows below last year’s level since January,” he said. “Graffiti is about the same as last year, with maybe a slight increase.”

Those numbers could change as the end of the school year approaches, with the grad and summer party scene in full-swing — and warm weather coming.

“Right now we are into the grad pranks,” he said. “Some of the schools that have been hit have been hit pretty bad.”

He mentioned Dr. Charles Best secondary and Terry Fox secondary as examples of schools that had been recently vandalized.

Tim Kelly, executive director of Vandal Watch, said when buildings are left vacant, they can invite trouble. Since Lincoln elementary closed 11 months ago, 14 windows have been broken on the property.

As schools empty out for the summer, Kelly fears incidents of vandalism could spike. “When a school shuts down, it certainly changes the neighbourhood dynamics,” Kelly said.

But increases in the number of broken windows or sprayed walls do not always rise in July and August, Dueck said. He points out that after the graduation period ends, the number of vandalism incidents can often level off for the duration of the summer.

Once September rolls around, however, some students may show their displeasure with going back to school by smashing a window or spray-painting a wall.

And all it takes is one major act of vandalism to send the statistics skyrocketing upwards.

“There are some times when we will get 20 windows broken at one place, so it spikes a bit,” he said. “But it rarely ever happens at the same school twice.”

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Fight the Power!

Powerful protest — A student-organized walk-out at South Delta Senior Secondary to oppose the VITR project attracted more than 600 people. Tyler Garnham photos (South Delta Leader), May 30, 2008


Plenty of good reasons to object to new power lines

Vancouver Sun [British Columbia]
Published: Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I’m astounded at some of the comments I’ve seen in newspapers and on news and radio websites. I’m astounded at the narrow-minded people who say we are rich, stuck-up whiners.

I live in Tsawwassen. I’m not rich or stuck-up. I’m a single working mother living from paycheque to paycheque.

I don’t live under the power lines, but I’m as concerned as the rest of Tsawwassen about them — not because of housing prices, but because of the stunningly high voltage, their height and the way BC Hydro and the government are handling this frightening situation.

The powers-that-be are ready to pull the plug on hard plastic as a “preventive” measure but aren’t ready to take measures to ensure our kids are categorically safe from high-voltage transmissions lines and 30-metre towers?

The issue here is that there are other, safer alternatives. Bury the lines. Run them across uninhabited farmland. Run them down the highway. Put them anywhere but over our schools and playgrounds and backyards.

L. Lanoway Tsawwassen


Hoods-up protest over Delta power lines

By Dan Ferguson – Surrey North Delta Leader – June 03, 2008

They parked their cars on the highway leading to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal and raised their hoods.

The mass “break-down” on Monday afternoon slowed traffic to and from the ferry terminal from about 4-4:30 p.m. when Delta Police convinced them to move by threatening to bring in tow trucks.

“The cars miraculously came to life,” said Tsawwassen resident Debbie McBride, one of the protesters.

It was a demonstration against construction of new power lines through the South Delta community.

An existing line of wooden poles is being replaced with much taller metal towers that opponents say pose a health hazard to the people living near the lines.

McBride says the protest was a polite attempt to get the provincial government to listen to their concerns.

“Isn’t it sad that that’s what gets attention?” McBride said.

“It’s silly.”

McBride says drivers heading to and from the ferry terminal were able to get around the protest by taking side roads.

She wouldn’t say if more blockades were planned.


Students protest against power lines

Sandor Gyarmati, Special to Surrey Now
Published: Friday, May 30, 2008

Their lives should be worth more than a few dollars saved, say students at South Delta Secondary, who held a protest rally against the new power lines this week.

Hundreds of students walked out at the start of their lunch hour and the plan was for them not to return to their remaining classes. At least 500 students were expected to take part in the event at Dennison Park across the street from the Tsawwassen high school.

Staff joined during the lunch hour portion of the protest in a show of unity and opposition to the installation of higher voltage lines through Tsawwassen.

“Besides sleeping, I spend more time at school than at home, so the power lines are very much a health risk,” said Connor Broadfoot, a Grade 10 student who helped organize the event.

“It’s ridiculous the government wants to save money at our expense. It’s just lazy. A lot of students here are concerned,” he added.

Fellow organizer Natasha D’Agostino, also in Grade 10, said another concern is the towers crashing down on the school if there’s an earthquake.

Tiffany Heering, who’s in Grade 8, also said she can’t understand why the government refuses to bury the lines.

Some adults drove down with placards for the students to carry as the event began.

The students said they wanted to help continue the momentum generated by the community rally that had more than 2,000 people come out earlier this month.

In a statement of response to the protest, the B.C. Transmission Corporation said it recognizes the right of citizens to voice their opinion in a legal fashion, however, the agency is bound by legal obligation to construct the new transmission lines. BCTC notes the electromagnetic field levels in all areas of the project will be well within the exposure guidelines.

Construction of the lines is scheduled to begin in Tsawwassen early next month.

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Student walkout Tuesday

By Robert Mangelsdorf – Maple Ridge News [British Columbia] – February 23, 2008

Students across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows plan to walk out of school on Tuesday, March 4 to protest the district’s switch to a co-ordinated linear timetable, but the organizer of an earlier rally wants nothing to do with it.

A group on the social networking website Facebook, titled “SD42 District Kids Protest For Scedule [sic] Changes!” calls for students to protest the switch to a coordinated linear timetable across the district by staging a sit-in at the school district office, 22295 Brown Ave. in Maple Ridge, at 8:30 a.m. March 4.

School board chair Cheryl Ashlie said, while the district supports the students right to protest, it is also responsible for their safety, and wishes the students would protest on their own time.

“These situations create a no-win situation for school administrators,” she said. “If they allow events like this to take place, then they’re endangering the students, and if they don’t allow the events, they’re crushing their democratic rights.”

Ashlie said given the reaction to the timetable changes, a second public consultation might be held to address some of the students concerns.

“If you’re going to ask a bunch of people to follow you, you’d better know what you’re talking about,” she said.

The group is organized by a pair of Garibaldi students, Genaya Grasby and Kandace Turmel, and already has more than 200 members.

On the website, the group states that, “[N]ext year every school in our district is going to be on the same scedule [sic]. Recently, SRT had a protest because of wanting to keep their [sic] semester system. Baldi wants to do the same, because we like our block orders…If you don’t agree with all of SD42 being the same, take a stand with us and protest!”

But the organizer of the protest at Samuel Robertson Technical says, while she supports the cause, she wants nothing to do with the event and won’t be attending.

“They are basically saying to everyone that it’s OK to skip school, and I don’t support that,” said Teesha Sharma, a 16-year-old student at SRT. “I respect what they are trying to do, but they really need to rethink their approach.”

Sharma was recently removed from her school’s student council, as well as the district student advisory council, and barred from planning any school events for her part in organizing a lunchtime protest that got out of control on Feb. 8. The protest was over the district’s timetable change.

However, shortly after the rally started, a number of unruly students led the group of about 250 Grade 11 and 12s off of school grounds, despite Sharma’s efforts to stop them. The students then disrupted traffic and pelted vehicles with fruit while marching down 104th Avenue.

Sharma failed to enter the school when told to do so by an administrator.

She believes the school administration was heavy handed in punishing her.

“They basically took away everything that I love,” she said. “I take full responsibility for my actions and I’m empathetic with [the administration’s] position, but I think they just handled this whole situation poorly.”

On Thursday, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Michael Sather gave a speech in the provincial legislature in support of Sharma’s right to protest, and encouraged the school’s administration to reverse its decision.

“Rather than suspending Teesha for a couple of days, the administration chose to take her lifeblood connection to the school from her,” he told the legislative assembly.

“Our schools function to train students to be leaders. We must do everything to encourage these qualities in our youth. We must not crush them, but must nourish them in contributing to their community. I hope that the school will reinstate Teesha, that she can finish her Grade 12 on the high note that it should be ending on and that she will go on to be a great leader in our society.”

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Rock knocks out Nanaimo school district computers

Nanaimo, British Columbia, November 2007

According to a Nanaimo Daily News report dated November 24, 2007, rocks were thrown through the windows of the band room at Nanaimo District Secondary School and at the district administration office, tipping over an air conditioner, which cools the district’s communications servers and helps to keep them operational.

The district’s auto-dial phone system, which calls substitute staff when regulars are sick or away from work, stopped receiving and sending calls by 10pm on Thursday, November 22. Staff showed up to work Friday morning and found they had lost access to all servers and the internet. Teachers across the district had no e-mail and many schools would have been without substitutes and support staff if not for prepared staff at the district office, who implemented a backup plan to get staff to the schools.

District staff “had no idea what had been requested and what had been filled,” said communications officer Donna Reimer. They “had to wait until people started arriving at the schools” in order to figure out who wasn’t there and then manually fill the positions that were vacant.

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Vandals break 15 more windows at school

Wawmeesh G. Hamilton, Coquitlam NOW [British Columbia]
Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Vandals broke 15 windows at Montgomery Middle School during the Remembrance Day long weekend, according to the latest figures released by School District 43.

Overall, 26 windows were broken at local schools during the one-week period ending Nov. 14.

“Most of the damage at Montgomery was on the lower floor windows, and a few on the second floor,” said Jim Dueck, the district’s manager of minor repairs.

Last month, 21 windows were reported broken at the school.

The most recent damage occurred at Montgomery Middle over the Remembrance Day weekend, Dueck said, adding that it was reported on Nov. 13 and 14.

Dueck said the district was in the midst of taking steps to thwart vandals when the latest damage occurred.

“We were waiting for ordered screens when this most recent incident happened,” he said. “We got hit before they arrived.”

Montgomery is located off the beaten path, leaving it more susceptible to vandalism than some other schools.

“The school’s in an alcove that isn’t really visible from the street, it’s an unused area,” Dueck said.

Despite the recent flurry of damage at Montgomery Middle, the overall number of broken windows in School District 43 is down considerably from last year.

Dueck said there were 83 broken windows reported in October, down from 113 during the same month last year.

Overall, 988 broken windows have been reported in 2007, down from 1,215 at the same time last year.

“Unless we have a really bad spate, we’ll be down this year,” he said.

While the number of broken windows is down, the amount of graffiti is on the rise — not just in schools, but across the Tri-Cities, Dueck said.

The district’s most recent report showed 19 instances of graffiti reported last week.

Combating it is difficult, Dueck said, especially because of the attitude surrounding it.

“It’s really a silent crime because painting the side of a building makes less noise than breaking a window,” he said.

“Society doesn’t think it’s as important as other issues. You see it every day and I guess you get acclimatized to it.”

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