Get to know the ones who make a sweeping impact

Annie Kim, Contributing Writer

Walking down the hallway at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, you will notice the lights are off and all is quiet, except for the faint sound of music.  The usual chaos of kids trying to get to class has disappeared; there is nothing but calm emptiness.  At the end of the hallway stands a cart of supplies—garbage can, mop, cleaning fluid, paper towels—and sitting on the very top is a radio, which plays anything from lively Latin American music to classic rock.  It provides good company for those cleaning and organizing the many classrooms throughout the building—an average Saturday morning for a custodian.

“The one thing about the school is that it’s always busy.  A lot of people leave at 3:30, but they don’t realize that at night, people come in from all over town, so the building is always active,” said Assistant Head Custodian Mr. Patrick Novotny.

On weekdays, a new routine is in place to adapt to the presence of more than 1,500 students and staff within the building.  The day shift custodians arrive at approximately 7 a.m. and work until 2:30 p.m., taking care of numerous mishaps and allowing everything to run smoothly throughout the day.  At 2:30 p.m., the night shift takes over and works until 11 p.m. when the school is locked up.  Every custodian is assigned to an area that contains around 20 classrooms, a few hallways, and one or two bathrooms.  Every once in a while, they will encounter anything from pet mice to a squirrel roaming the science wing.

While it may seem like there is not much to do after school besides cleaning, the custodians are constantly occupied with setting up for shows, dinners, and meetings, which allow these events to operate efficiently and without disorder.

The custodians also address several other items besides cleaning and setting up for shows.

“We change light bulbs and fix a wall if a kid puts a hole in it.  We also now have a problem in the A wing near the end of the hallway. Somebody keeps throwing chocolate milk against the wall and making a mess,” said Mr. Novotny.

To the kid who insists on throwing chocolate milk against the wall: please stop.

Despite the occasional inconvenient messes, Mr. Novotny says that he would not have it any other way.  “On the whole, this is a good school. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else in the district or outside the district,” said Mr. Novotny.

When coming across a custodian the next time, say hello or give a little thank you. After all, without them, the school would not be anywhere near as efficient or squeaky-clean as it is now.