Students Give New Look to Abandoned Houses

Three abandoned houses at 25th and California now have doors and windows decorated with cartoon characters and other colorful scenes, thanks to students at Highland Park High School. More than 60 students and adults spent last Thursday clearing brush, trimming trees and covering windows and doors with plywood decorated by HPHS art students. The houses, across the street from the school, have been used by kids to skip class and get into trouble.

School Resource Officer Larry Gonzales decided to get students and others involved in cleaning up around the houses to help reduce crime. Gonzales decided to use a method called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. "Simply by trimming trees, cutting back shrubbery, opening line of sight and making areas more pleasant to look at can assist in reducing crime," said Topeka Police Sgt. Lance Feyh. Several local businesses donated supplies and equipment for the project. City, county and school officials helped assist the students.

Highland Park High School student Jarron Ogles talked about what he will be thinking the next time he passes the houses. "It will be the best feeling in the world. I'll tell everybody I had a part in that. I did that house right there. It will be fun to tell people that."

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