The Janitors of DHS

Saylor Stottlemeyer, Reporter

There is no doubt about it; The custodial team of Durango High School puts in hours of work that goes unseen. This ranges from cleaning bathrooms and classrooms, to throwing away trash outside before bears get to it. Janitors are incredible behind-the-scenes employees and they deserve praise from different people around the school, as well as an understanding from everyone about what they do for DHS.

The head of the custodial staff, Carol Queen, facilitates 7 people currently, and she said that the custodial team is here from 6:30 in the morning from 11:30 at night.

“[The hardest part is] probably coordinating with everyone, and all the teachers requests and the principals requests. The most tedious is picking up trash in the hallways and cleaning graffiti off of the lockers,” said Queen.

Although Queen’s hours are specifically from 8:00am-4:30pm, she usually comes early and leaves late, based on the operations that need to be done around the school.

“The current custodial team I have does a great job and works really well with the teachers. I would like to have more of them though!” said Queen.

The janitorial team that was in the school on November 6th consisted of Carol Queen, Rick Medina, Cody Billingsley, Alex Delaney, Bill Farley, and Saysha Mustache. On a break between the day shift and the evening shift, they discussed what the most difficult parts of their job were.

“People. Everyone being here at night, so for example Friday nights are usually the hardest with games, events, activities, and things like that,” said evening shift worker Alex Delaney.

For Rick Medina, the most time consuming part of his job is cleaning the classrooms because all the teachers requests are different, and while some teachers are really organized, others are not.

“Some parts of our job are really hard, because for example in my wing (the commons and art wing), the ceramics class will have clay and paint on the floors that are really hard to clean up, and in Medina’s science wing, it is hard because of all the dissections and chemicals that they use,” said Bill Farley.

The custodians then discussed a particularly difficult night for their staff, which was Friday, November 3rd. On this night, there was the opening of Troupe 1096’s production of Grease, a home football game, and a collection of events happening the next morning. It was a recipe for overload.

“We had people running all up and down the hallways that shouldn’t be in there, and we can’t really do floors because there is too many people on them, and you can’t do bathrooms because every time we would try, there would be people in them,” said Farley.

Having movement all around the school makes work extremely difficult for the custodians, because they cannot clean as well with people in the area.

Another huge problem that the janitorial staff also has is making sure the outdoor campus is clean, because animals roam around the school when there is food available.

“[With wildlife,] it’s been better the last two weeks, but we did have a bear problem before that. Three to four of them would come each night, and every time we put garbage out they thought that it was theirs, because it is packed full of food. Now, we have raccoons, skunks, and foxes who are dangerous because they can be rabid.

To deal with these issues, the custodial team uses big flashlights that give them an advantage of sight.

“We just hope that they aren’t rabid,” said Farley.

The custodial team does an extensive amount of work for the school. And people notice the effect. Both students and staff realize the work the janitors do in order for DHS to be a clean learning environment.

Jr. Emma Hackett, Student Council member and three-sport CHSAA athlete, is really affected by the janitorial staff and all of their work they put into making the campus clean because of the amount of time she spends at the school.

“They are really friendly and are more than willing to help out. They help with getting into rooms and getting supplies that you need. They also clean up for games and sometimes sweep the gym floors,” said Hackett.

The custodial team also cleans classrooms for teachers. Seydie Coronado is a Spanish teacher at Durango High School, and janitors always clean her room and make her classroom very organized.

“The janitor is a very valuable person in my class. He comes every day and picks up trash from trash cans. He also helps me with vacuuming especially when my classroom is very dirty. If it is necessary and I ask him to, he also cleans my whiteboard…he is always available if I need a favor,” said Coronado.

The janitors spend a lot of their time working around the school to make DHS clean and functional, and deserve more recognition. Many of their jobs are stressful, and even dangerous when it comes to wildlife, so next time you see a janitor, say thank you for being here when it is pitch black outside, and for putting in the work to make DHS a great school.