Students go shopping for supplies and work on summer reading to gear up for a new school year. Administrators and teachers attend trainings and finalize class schedules in the last few weeks of summer to prepare for a new year. But what many people don't realize is that Mt. Hope High School itself is quietly being prepared for a new year as well.
Custodians at have been working rigorously through the summer to get every nook and cranny ready for the first day of school. From scrubbing down walls and desks to resurfacing the gymnasium, Mt. Hope's nine custodians have their hands full.
"The whole school is a very big job," said 68-year-old custodian Lee DeOliveira. "It's hard because we have to work around the summer school and other activities that go on in the school over the summer. We still have a lot of work to do."
On Wednesday, August 10, DeOliveira and custodian Peter Machado, 54, could be found sanding down the gymnasium floor. Four other custodians spent the day emptying classrooms in the math wing and scrubbing down desks.
"I'm finally getting payback from when I went to school here," said Ernie Dupuis, a custodian who has worked in the district for 10 years. "I thought I was cool writing 'Ernie D was here' on the desks," he added, laughing.
Custodians admit that though some of the students tease and make fun of them during the school year, the job is more demanding and rewarding than many people may think, so it's worth it.
Dupuis notes that it is very rewarding working with young people because they help keep him "young in mind."
"We're very proud of what we do, you have no idea," DeOliveira added. "We fix things and we're so proud. And if someone ruins it we want to kill them," he joked.
Custodian Julieta Carreiro who has worked at Mt. Hope for 15 years admits that it is hard work, but the the crew shares a family-like bond that makes work much more enjoyable.
"It's hard work but we make it fun and we just do the best we can," Carreiro said. "We joke, we have fun, we have our moments."
In grand scheme of things, the custodians admit that their jobs help others, and that is what really matters.
"We don't do it to impress people," DeOliveira said. "We do it to make the kids comfortable. We want to keep it clean for the kids. And it really is a pleasure to come to work."
As they cleaned on Wednesday, every worker scrubbed with a smile.