For Carmel High custodians, challenges abound

BY MILES PREKOSKI

Tyler Thompson returns to his Marina home every day at 11:30 p.m. after concluding an eight-hour shift at Carmel High, cleaning, sweeping and washing rooms.

 

For much of the Carmel High custodian staff, these long days of work and cleaning are the norm.

 

While students may not notice the work from this segment of the Carmel High staff, the work custodians accomplish cannot be done without countless hours put in every day.

 

Thompson’s day starts when school gets out, when he, as well as the other custodians on staff, begin to clean assigned classrooms around the school. The extensive cleaning of a classroom includes the dry mopping of floors and vacuuming of carpets, as well as removing marks, cleaning desks and securing windows.

 

“I usually begin my day at 9:30, where I do things around the house until I have to be at the school at 2:30,” Thompson says. “I have three classrooms to do at the beginning of the school, and then another fourteen classrooms around school. After that, I have to go do the office, and I save about three hours for that. I’m done by around 11:00.”

 

Every custodian on staff  has approximately 17 classroom assignments, along with an extra building, like the office, to complete in an eight-and-a-half-hour shift.

 

“I get off so late, I usually don’t get to sleep until around 1:30 a.m., so I never get to see my kids during the week,” Thompson remarks. “I’m always doing something today in order to prep for tomorrow.”

 

For Jose Renteria, the job is similar yet more demanding, as he’s in charge of all other custodians, enforcing policy on campus.

 

“I’m making sure everybody is on time, making sure everybody knows what they’re doing,” Renteria says. “I coordinate with sports events and help break things down and set up.”

 

Renteria’s experience has spanned over 20 years after he served in the Army for nine.

 

“Prior to working at the high school, I was working at Macy’s as a custodian and a couple other companies,” he adds. “Now I’ve been in charge here for about 10 years.”

 

Thompson and Renteria aren’t the only ones working hard on campus each night; they’re joined by a staff of three other night custodians, including Ezequel Mendoza, a father of two, Miguel Barreto Sanchez, a grandfather of six, and Rowel Martinez.

 

Many students may take the work of custodians for granted: Students riddle bathroom stalls with graffiti, markings and notes, leaving only the custodians to clean them up. But Renteria appreciates the student-custodian relationship at CHS and enjoys speaking to students.

 

“Students are top notch here, and I’d rather be here than any other school,” the head custodian says. “As long as I’ve been working for the Carmel School district, I’ve never been disrespected.”

 

For many students, custodians are merely available when needed, getting a ball off a roof or asking a question from time to time, never fully taking in exactly how much custodians do for the school.

 

Along with the rest of the custodial staff, Renteria has no issue helping students whenever needed.

 

“I don’t have a problem with any students,” Renteria says. “A lot of them come up, ask me how I’m doing, and I’m more than happy to open up doors for students and talk to them.”

 

Sophomore Joaquin Carlson believes that work by custodians is underappreciated.

 

“People need to think about doing some of the things they do that custodians will have to clean up,” Carlson says.

 

Sophomore Mac Keller agrees.

 

“They do all the heavy lifting and hard work, and we need to acknowledge that,” Keller explains.

 

“They always do the behind-the-scenes work,” freshman Ananda Sudol adds. “You don’t usually get to see them. If there’s one thing I would tell a custodian, it would be ‘Thank you.’”