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Hidden Heroes

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Photo courtesy of Fluco Journalism

Photo courtesy of Fluco Journalism

Photo courtesy of Fluco Journalism

Amyiah Carter, Mass Media Student

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Imagine working hard to sweep and mop an entire floor only to have hundreds of muddy shoes come pouring in to get it dirty again. Now imagine doing that five days a week, and you have a small idea of the hard work done by the FCHS custodial staff. “I love my job,” said Herbert Adams, one of the many custodians who have the patience and tolerance for such chaos.

FCHS has a daytime shift and a night-time shift for custodians to clean up the building. These custodians spend their days cleaning up messes from students and sometimes teachers, multiple times a day. “All day is busy,” said custodian Gerald Martin one of the day custodians. Day custodians work before and during school hours from 7:30 am-4:00 pm. FCHS has three custodians on duty during the day: Herbert Adams, Doug Tanner and Gerald Martin, as well as Ron Williams who maintains the grounds outside the building.

In the evening, six custodians–Archie Giles, Robin Armstrong, Sharon Bowles, and Bryan Morris, Gary Lewis, Terrance Bledsoe and Gary Johnson–are on duty from 3:30 pm-midnight.

On a typical day, the day custodians have to clean the cafeteria after breakfast, then return a few hours later to clean the cafeteria tables and floors three times between A, B, and C lunches. Then they have to do a final, more extensive cleaning job after D lunch. The bigger the messes students have made, the longer it takes to clean.

In between, they are expected to sweep floors, deliver things like copy paper to the teacher’s lounges, replace burnt out lightbulbs and make equipment repairs, and clean nearly twenty bathrooms.

As for the night custodians they clean all the rooms in the school, the halls, bathrooms, and locker rooms. The custodians also have to take trash to dumpsters as well as break down boxes. Finally, the are responsible for cleaning up after any evening functions like games, which can mean cleaning bathrooms a final time, or clearing bleachers and locker rooms.

Since the school spaces are so big, the custodians use larger cleaning materials meant to clean larger areas. For example, their brooms spread to over two feet wide. Custodians clean up large messes ranging from small milk spills to huge ketchup pranks. One custodian recounted an incident when they went into the boys’ bathroom and saw ketchup packets everywhere. They then continued to find them and came to the conclusion that the boys were putting ketchup packets underneath the toilet seats. They did this so that when someone sat down, ketchup would go everywhere. While the perpetrators probably thought this was funny, they gave no thought to the extra hours of work they were making for the custodians.

For many students, the work the custodians do is “out of sight, out of mind,” just something that they take for granted and never really think about. Other students recognize what an important role the custodians play in maintaining the school. “Most people take their work for granted,” said senior Jake Lindo.

What can students do to help the custodians?  “I could help them out by telling people to pick up their trash and clean up after themselves,” said freshman Kaitlyn Costanzo. Indeed, the custodians said that students are throwing more food, and especially grapes, on the floor. “It is taking us a lot longer to do the cafeteria,” one said. According to the custodians, they wish students would push their chairs underneath tables after lunches. “It takes us forty-five minutes to move those back after D lunch,” one said.

Whether students recognize their work or not, a number of faculty members are appreciative of what the custodial staff do. “Our custodians are awesome. They are hard workers and dedicated to their responsibilities,” said principal Margo Bruce.

For some of the custodians, their work is not just a job. It’s a calling. “I want to be a blessing in someone’s life,” said custodian Herbert Adam who sees himself as a helper and doesn’t mind taking time out to help other people.

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Hidden Heroes