While Some Sleep, they Sweep
By Max Miracle, News Editor
The final bell rings. Students desert their classes, board buses, and disperse throughout the school to wait for afterschool activities. Later, when clubs have adjourned and athletes have long since retreated home, the school returns to life.
Custodians patrol the hallways, diligently working to erase the leftover mess of one school day and prepare for the next. Their task is enormous. Over 100 rooms, from the gym lobby to the main office, must be attended to.
Thousands of staff and students generate mountains of trash on a daily basis. Wrappers, boxes, and unidentifiable food items must be collected, trash bags replaced, and dumpsters filled. “You can’t clean when you have 2,000 students and 300 adults in the building,” said Student Activities Director Jeanne Kelly.
“We work 3:30 through 12 midnight,” said custodian Khalaf Daoud.
This late-night labor helps keep the school hygienic and visually appealing. Heavily trafficked areas like bathrooms, however, can prove exceptionally difficult to clean. “There are always papers towels on the ground, guys don't know how to aim, it's destroyed,” said Vincent Tran (10). “But then, after every day, [custodians] still have to clean it up.”
In addition to preventing the spread of disease and pest infestations, the hard work of custodians can also promote a healthy learning environment. “If my school looks clean and organized, I feel confident,” said Vincent.
In addition to their cleaning responsibilities, custodians also set up equipment for various upcoming events and break down gear from previous ones. “Say there’s a meeting in the cafeteria from 7-9 p.m.,” said Ms. Kelly. “When that meeting is done, that cafeteria needs to be set back up so kids can have breakfast and lunch the next day.”
This duty includes preparing for and cleaning up after sporting events; custodians do everything from setting up bleachers to waxing the floors after games. “Without them, we wouldn’t have a court to play on,” said Varsity Girls’ Basketball Head Coach Janice Pritchett.
While some remain unaware of the massive role custodians play in keeping the school running, many students and staff make efforts to show their appreciation. “We’ve had many teachers who will bring in cupcakes or doughnuts [for our custodians],” said Ms. Kelly. “We can show respect by thanking them when we see them and making their lives a little bit less hectic by cleaning up after ourselves.”
While they welcome recognition for their dedication, many custodians see their work as part of something bigger than themselves.
“Teacher or student or staff,” said Mr. Daoud. “All the people here are the same family.”