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Unsung Heroes: AHS’ Custodial Team

Charles Xu and Carolyn Hsu

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From athletics to performing arts teams, AHS students pride themselves on their dedication to upholding the name of the Apaches. The morning rehearsals by nationally recognized Marching Band as well as the afternoon practices of the heralded track team contribute to an atmosphere of hustle and enthusiasm at our campus. Yet, this energy continues even when the sun goes down and the students go home.
Every night, Arcadia’s best kept secret is hard at work: The custodial squad. While they are rather inconspicuous during the school day, these men and women dedicate their afternoons and nights to ensure students and faculty return to a well-kept campus–a pristine environment for a pristine set of students and faculty. Our custodians are the backbone to AHS’ success and excellence.
Attention to detail can often be a choice, but our janitors make it a habit. Angelica McLaughlin always tries “putting a little bit more effort into [her job]. That way, our staff come to nice restrooms, restocked appliances, and a nice and neat campus.”
The custodial team of AHS follows their own rigorous set of standards. On the east side of campus, Manuel Castillo names a long list of daily responsibilities including “cleaning the whole rally court, changing garbage bags, taking out the trash, sanitizing the kitchen, washing pots, and cleaning washing machines.”

On the west side of campus, the duties are just as intensive. Often seen working from B to H hall, 28 year district veteran Steve Baracchini mentioned his duties where “dumping trash, washing windows, vacuuming, cleaning restrooms, and dusting.
Despite shifts that may end just before midnight, our custodians not only continue to serve to the greatest of their extent, but naturally shift the spotlight away from themselves. Ledy Chinchilla, who leaves the campus as late as 11:00 p.m. everyday, deflects praise, stating instead that “the students are doing very well, active and busy. Teachers are hard workers. [She] sees them staying late and having lots of responsibilities.” It’s this humble approach to their profession that makes our custodians the real unsung heroes of our campus.
There are rarely any days off for our custodial squad. During the summer, when kids are swimming and teachers are traveling, our janitors put even more hours into keeping the school immaculate. Steve said, “During the summer, we try to do the deep cleaning. The floors, the carpets, and all that.”
Even with these long hours and sometimes under-appreciated positions, our custodians thoroughly enjoy the connections that they have crafted with the students of AHS. Ledy’s favorite part about her job is “the relationship with the kids.” She states that “they are nice kids, good kids.” Steve adds, “Working with the kids, with the people is my favorite part about the job. If I have someone to talk to, time seems to go by quick.”
For Angelica, her job becomes easier “when [the students and staff] compliment the team.” She continued, “Comments like ‘Hey, thank you guys for such an amazing job in our area’ make [them] feel extremely acknowledged. That makes [her] day so much better. And that makes [her] enjoy [her] job.”
Having seen a countless number of seniors leaving and making room for new students, the custodial staff has seen the good and the bad on campus. Aside from the duties of their job, the custodial team almost unanimously agrees upon one vital message to the AHS students. Graduation. Angelica emphasizes to “make sure [that we] graduate.” In order to move forward, we must make sure to “get a good education while [we are here] and try to proceed with that and take it with [us] into” the next chapter of our lives.
For Steve, he sees the hustle and bustle at Arcadia High School with students rushing from activity to activity and pointed out, “It seems like we live in such a hectic society where there’s so much to do. Everybody’s rushed. It’s not just the kids. It’s the grown ups too. It’s too bad we couldn’t just go back twenty years and just slow down a little bit. Just take a breath and enjoy life a little bit.”
Next time you see a custodial member, be sure to greet them and thank them for maintaining the immaculate environment of the school. Their work parallels that of AHS’ lauded reputation–dedication and passion.

Photos by CHARLES XU

(Left to Right) Jacko Wu, Manuel Castillo, and Angelica McLaughlin take a break from cleaning the ASB Office.

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The World Is Our Campus
Unsung Heroes: AHS’ Custodial Team