School's 'lost and found' is often forgotten

Everyday, students ask their teachers questions in the classroom.

But kids might be surprised to find that it's the receptionists and custodians who hold the answers to some of their most burning questions.

Have you seen my jacket? Did you find a house key? Do you think I threw my retainer away on the cafeteria tray after lunch?

These are all questions Eva Banks, head custodian at Harris Road Middle School wishes students would ask her before the school halls go dark for the summer. After that, the staff that has worked so hard to make sure no child was left behind all year, will begin sifting through what the children themselves have left behind, taking much of it, the jackets, clothing, jewelry, cell phones and eyeglasses, to local charities.

Theories as to why kids misplace their belongings are as plentiful as the number of single mittens looking for mates in the lost and found bins.

"I've thought about that," said Debbie Beneduce, a receptionist at Jay M. Robinson High School, who just turned over four pair of like-new sneakers to the school's athletic department. "They lose their shoes, they'll just get a new pair," she said, letting a deep sigh escape. Beneduce believes parents let their kids off the hook too easily.

Mary Jasmine, a nurse practitioner with Suburban Pediatrics tends to agree. "The accountability is missing there," she said.

Jasmine, who is frequently asked by parents as to why kids are so forgetful, cuts younger kids some slack, though. "It is very easy to get overloaded with the number of tasks," she said of elementary school pupils. Add the hormone changes middle school students wrestle with and keeping track of belongings becomes even more difficult. "The little details may not be the top priority for them," she said.

Banks has seen that first hand. Every two weeks she sweeps through the halls, finding everything from books and wallets, to complete outfits. "You wonder what they find to wear home from school."

"We are a society of stuff. We have a lot of things," said Jasmine. "The more you are asked to account for, the more you misplace them."

That applies to adults as well. Lynn Marsh, principal at Odell Elementary School says she often finds teacher reading glasses in her school's lost and found. "I've found mine there more than once."

More perplexing than losing items to Banks, though, is that rarely do students seek them out. "I don't know what it is, but they will not get their belongings," she said.

Ryan Remkus, 18, a senior at Jay M. Robinson High School, said students don't have a lot of faith in finding a lost item. "If it was something like an iPod, I would check the lost and found, but I wouldn't expect to find it," said Remkus.

Ryan Murphy, also a senior at the high school agrees. He remembers losing a necklace in middle school, and searching through the lost and found, only to be disappointed. "It wasn't there."

Still, Banks hopes students will give the lost and found one last try. They just might be surprised.