School custodians gear up for busy season

June 08, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - For students in Washington County public schools, summer vacation began Tuesday afternoon.

A quiet, carefree time for youths, the occasion marked the beginning of the most-hectic time of year for custodians across the county.

"I can relate very much to the attitude that a basketball coach gets a week before opening the season," said North Hagerstown High School custodian Sam Shoemaker, who likened Tuesday to the lead-up to Midnight Madness in college basketball or the first preseason game of the year in the National Football League. "For me, this is my most-challenging time of year."

Rodney Turnbough, director of facilities for the school system, said during the summer the system's custodians clean classrooms, troubleshoot problems, provide security and oversee the work of on-site contractors.


"Our staff does continue to work. I always feel like probably one of our brightest spots is the opening day of school, and it doesn't happen without a lot of hard work," Turnbough said. "It is the one time in each of our schools when they can really get in and do the heavy cleaning work."

Bester Elementary School head custodian Richard Casto said the key to success is execution.

"With certain things, we have to jump around," he said. "It's kind of a juggling act. You just do as much as you can with the time you have."

North Hagerstown Principal Robert 'Bo' Myers said he believes many in the school community are unaware of the hard work of custodians like Shoemaker and his staff, who work not just year-round but also around the clock.

"These guys work hard every single day, 365 days a year," Myers said. "I would think it's not understood. I wouldn't say it's not appreciated, I would think that people don't know what these men do."

Clear Spring Middle School custodian Larry Yost said the first few weeks of summer vacation is a disorienting time.

"I think we have mixed emotions. The kids is what this is all about, so for the first several weeks, it's kind of odd around here," Yost said after the final dismissal of the school year Tuesday afternoon. "We've had parents, we've had actually some teachers, that thought we were off all summer long."

Clear Spring outgoing Parent Teacher Association President Holly Graybill said many in the school community appreciate the work of Yost and his custodial staff even though they may not get the full recognition they deserve.

"I believe there's a lot of parents who believe when we go home today this building folds up," she said. "But we do appreciate them very much in this school."

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